Like any function in business, the supply chain is beset with challenges. Skyrocketing expenses, volatile fuel cost, increasing competition, large volumes of data, and ever-changing market demands all come together to make this function tougher than most. An opportunity is afforded by the digital revolution though. This technology-based movement is set to have a profound effect on the supply chain industry. The triple-team of mobility, the Internet of Things, and software is revolutionizing the way companies are managing their supply chain operation.
According to a report by SCDigest, in 2016, more than 80% of the companies were aggressively considering strategies and technologies for supply chain digitization. It stands to reason that those companies who do not harness the power of digitization are likely to be left behind in the competition – and possibly run out of business.
Here is how the entire supply chain landscape is being transformed by mobility, IoT, and software.
Mobility is the new norm
With the proliferation of mobile devices and expansion on the available network infrastructure, mobility is expected to become the first choice for those seeking to digitize the entire supply chain. According to a study by Capgemini a couple of years ago, less than 8% of the companies use mobile technology to transform the customer experience and close to 14% use it for operational purposes.
With such a wide scope, more and more supply chain applications are likely to become available for the forward-thinking company in the coming years. Mobile platforms allow two-way interaction, which not only speeds up the communication process, but also extends the communications lines to the very end of the supply chain – to warehouses, in transit, and other previously hardtop connect end-points.
Furthermore, it allows companies to transparently view and access information about their inventory, to capture and validate data and process payment – all within a mobile-friendly environment. All this helps to drive faster decisions and higher productivity.
IoT will become routine
The Internet of Things is a revolution data-gathering. Thanks to this abundance of real-time data available to the companies, IoT is poised to transform the logistics processes. Many companies are leveraging IoT technologies for collecting critical information and smartly managing assets. This drives up operational efficiency and also helps them to proactively fulfill the demands of the customer.
A report by DHL and Cisco in 2015 estimated that technologies such as asset tracking can have an impact on more than $1.3 trillion in the supply chain sector.And, this transformation is definitely underway.
Here are a few IoT-enabled technologies that have the power to transform the supply chain sector over the next few years.
Internet-connected trackers – These let companies track items throughout the delivery journey. They provide crucial location data, health check information, and in some cases using satellite communications, even in areas with no cellular coverage.
NFC tags – Near field communication tags reduces the cost of identifying the goods and inventories, which improves the overall delivery process. For example, if all the shelves of a warehouse are labeled using NFC tags, it becomes easy for the administrative staff to locate specific products. NFC tags reduce dispatch errors and improve efficiency, as well as customer satisfaction.
Bluetooth tags – These help in tracking data in confined areas such as within a retail store. This is the last-mile of the supply-chain, and often the most unpredictable as it is in direct contact with the end-customer. These tags monitor the traffic inflow in the store, stock status, uptake of offers and promotions, and proactively allow restocking and replacements by communicating with the warehouse.
Keep an eye out for more on these technologies and their impact on the performance of the supply chain.
Mobility is the new norm
Cloud computing, big data, and robotics – all have applications in the supply chain management. And it is software that is powering all these movements. Cloud services allow a company to expand operations painlessly, scalability is easy, and costs are controlled. Cloud-based applications are helping logistics teams become more agile in responding to dynamic business requirements with higher quality and on-time delivery.
Another important evolution driven by software is robotics. Think software robots automating the entire supply chain. This improves response and increases the pace of response. Automation also enables easier management of the process as more transparent visibility if achieved. The adoption of robotics process automation through software is helping supply chain professionals focus less time on day-to-day processes, and instead spend more time on delivering value and enhancing the performance of the supply chain.
Clearly, the supply chain cannot ignore these benefits of mobility, IoT, and software. The three technology-based movements are slowly becoming the backbone of the supply chain. Darwin said that only the fittest will survive, in the context of the supply chain, being fit may involve harnessing the power of Mobility, IoT, and Software!