Study: Businesses Look To ‘Internet of Things’ to Bolster Supply Chain Management


The Internet of Things is one of those vague tech-world buzzwords (think Big Data) that defies easy definition. What it really boils down in your home is this: No more lost socks, because soon you will be able to track the whereabouts of literally everything you own. What it really means for your business is this: Huge potential for improving supply chain management and asset management – a leaner, more profitable and more resilient enterprise.

The big question to date is what is keeping more companies from diving in. A variety of technologies have been used to take advantage of IoT since the concept was first discussed, from simple barcodes to radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Widespread deployment to date has been elusive, however, as asset management solutions evolve to take full business advantage of the possibilities

Forrester Consulting’s recently released study on IoT, titled “Building Value from Visibility,” offers new perspective on the challenges they face in implementing IoT solutions, as well as the potential return on investment they expect to realize.

Some of the study’s top-line findings:

  • Most of the respondents, enterprise decision-makers at companies around the world, said they plan to deploy IoT solutions in the future, and 53 percent said they planned to do so in the next year. However, only 15 percent said they had done so already.
  • More than half of respondents said they would use IoT solutions to address supply chain management, transaction tracking and asset location issues. Other issues cited included identifying assets, reducing inventory levels and minimizing theft and damage to assets.
  •  Respondents indicated a growing interest in using IoT solutions to track the location and condition of equipment and people to ensure assets are being used to their maximum effect without the need to acquire more.
  • More than half of respondents believe (mistakenly) that implementing IoT solutions is difficult and expensive. They worry that many solutions are one-off applications that require a high level of expensive customization or are difficult and expensive to scale. Sixty-six percent cited difficulty of systems integration as a challenge.

In its summary, Forrester consultants wrote that finance, risk, sales and supply chain executives share an interest in capitalizing on the Internet of Things.

They recommended that leaders first prioritize the opportunities presented by harnessing IoT and then identify the components of putting a solution into place, including the sensors, applications and integration with legacy processes.

Lastly, the consultants stressed, it’s important to find a solution partner experienced in designing, creating and integrating IoT in a wider supply chain management strategy.

Your goal should be to find a partner that delivers complete visibility and control over your supply chain and assets and brings the data together seamlessly with everything from invoice management to warehouse management.