Supply chain disruption: Why IoT is failing to join the dots

by | Oct 20, 2022 | Technology

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Global supply chains are suffering unprecedented disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the average large business reporting a loss of $182 million in annual revenue as a result. But many supply chain challenges predate the chaos of the last couple of years. Digital transformation across domestic and global supply chains is long overdue.

Improved visibility, increased flexibility and effective communication are crucial for efficient and resilient supply chain operations. Yet, until now, the focus has been on the generation of data — which is why the Internet of Things (IoT) has not lived up to its hype when it comes to solving supply chain problems. More than 10 billion IoT devices worldwide are constantly adding data to already overflowing data stores. But the problem is not a lack of data — which is why IoT is not the answer.

In isolation, IoT data is meaningless — it’s just another strand of data. Supply chains inherently comprise many stakeholders, each performing its own critical functions which, collectively, make up the overall supply chain network. The data present across the supply chain sits across these many stakeholders, siloed among them. IoT data does add value but, without context, not very much.

The missing ingredient that’s key to unlocking the hidden value buried deep in the supply chain is to bring the various strands of data together in a way that provides meaning. For example, many vehicles are fitted with some form of tracking and monitoring capability that can report swathes of information wirelessly. But unless the IoT device is paired with a specific vehicle registration, that data is fairly pointless. What the vehicle is transporting, for whom, and to where is the information that adds value — providing context and helping organizations harness data to drive operational efficiency.

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Data accessibility at scale

This simple example highlights the real challenge of supply-chain digital transformation. The information required to provide the picture that business leaders need to cope with the ever-growing challenges of modern-day supply chains requires data to be captured and brought together from a …

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