As the number of internet-enabled devices increases, companies will be able to better leverage automated data collection software and make global supply chains more efficient, according to research firm Gartner.
Increasingly, hardware beyond the desktop or laptop can connect to the web, and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets is just the tip of the iceberg in regard to the rising trend known as the Internet of Things. Network World reported that IoT has the potential to dramatically change business operations, boosting everything from big data analytics campaigns to electric grids.
However, the trend's top benefit may be on the supply chain. As the number of devices with internet connectivity increases, so too does a company's ability to gather and transmit data from any part of its distribution network, Network World reported. For example, retailers such as Best Buy and Target leverage the IoT trend by using automated data collection to oversee shipments at all times.
IoT is also affecting inventory management, according to Gartner. Companies are using web-enabled technology to monitor supplies, and facilities managers can utilize advanced tracking capabilities to make sure inventory is always at an optimal level. For instance, smart vending machines can alert personnel via email if the number of food products inside the machine is running low.
"These assets are becoming part of online world, and they could now be on the enterprise network," said Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner, according to Network World.
However, in order to get the most from IoT, businesses should consider using automated data collection software in conjunction with web-based tracking. As the number of end points capable of generating and transmitting information via the web increases, so too must the company's ability to fully leverage incoming data. With automated data collection, organizations can more easily gather accurate information and glean actionable insights. That way, IoT has the greatest potential to improve supply chain efficiency and facilitate better inventory management.