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Exposing customer behaviour through IoT supply chains

Posted: 06 May 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:customer behaviour? supply chain? IoT? Pitney Bowes?

Interconnectedness has afforded the electronics supply chain with increasing volumes of data, which can provide electronics manufacturers with benefits and challenges. The information is coming from a range of devices streamlining demand forecasts, and from sales and shop floors processes, as well as in learning more about customer behaviour.

The National Association of Manufacturers has been spearheading a movement around Internet of Things (IoT) data for more than a year.

Chief procurement officers (CPOs) at OEMs will turn a plethora of data into information to improve supply chain operations. The data will come from manufacturing, retail-store censors, online metrics, and Internet-connected devices such as mobile phones and wearable gadgets.

The research firm Gartner forecasts 6.4 billion Internet-connected devices in 2016, up 30% from 2015, reaching 20.8 billion by 2020. The research firm estimates that this year the world will see 5.5 million new "things" connected every day.

Benefits will come from operational performance such as improving production and maintenance, as well as build-and-distribution cycles. It requires providing information back to suppliers that tell them in real time what's selling out from the store shelves.

Challenges become sorting through the data to determine what's useable and what's not.

IBM estimates that each day the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, so much that 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years.

Industry data poses new challenges

Manufacturing struggles with a learning curve on making the most of this wealth of information. The new Global Connectivity Index (GCI) by Chinese manufacturing Huawei measures how 50 nations continue to progress using information and communications technology. The 50 countries account for 90% of the global GDP and 78% of the global population.

The sector with the highest digital transformation score points to banking with 43.4%. Manufacturing with a score of 22.5% has one of the lowest, beating agriculture by a mere 0.5%. The report said those industry that score well are a "major contributors to GDP, and critical for competitiveness and economic health."

Having the data means nothing if companies cannot ingest and analyse it. Supply chain will take advantage of that data through a variety of methods including analytics platforms. IBM Watson and Newark elements14 released in February an IoT developers' kit based on Raspberry Pi micro-computer boards using energy harvesting wireless sensors from EnOcean.

Richard Curtin, global director of strategic alliance at element14, said bringing data from IoT devices into an analytics platform could help navigate stock control in the warehouse and monitor inventory in and out of distribution hubs. It would alert procurement managers of the need to replenish inventory on the shelves by bringing in the data from the hubs and integrating it into any analytics package to build out the supply chain.

Interesting that when semiconductor manufacturers and analysts in 2002 spoke about how the IoT would change electronics manufacturing supply chain they did not connect how it would influence supply chains at electronics or consumer product goods companies.

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