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And the money is flowing. IDC puts manufacturing at the top of the list of IoT investors, at more than $102bn in 2016 alone. Prepare for that flow to become a torrent: a recent survey by ABI Research found that 67 percent of manufacturing respondents don't currently have an IoT solution in operation - but 74 percent of those are either investigating, assessing, or planning to deploy an IoT solution in the next year.
Will they see real results? That depends on a number of factors that supply chain leaders need to think through at the beginning of this journey, says Bhagat Nainani, group vice president of IoT Applications Development at Oracle.
“It’s critical to start with the end in mind and then determine what part IoT technology can play in that business outcome — instead of starting the other way and just taking the devices and connecting them but then not knowing what to do with the data,” Nainani says.
The IoT technologies businesses select can make the difference in whether those end-goals are achieved. While some companies might try the DIY route and build their IoT systems from scratch using open source and a range of components, they’re likely to find that far more time is spent coupling different technologies together rather than focusing on the actual business value, he says. And some hardware vendors that offer connected machines may not provide the scalability to ingest and analyze high volumes of data in real time, which can also limit the system’s effectiveness. For those exploring how IoT could best benefit their company’s supply chain, Nainani suggests focusing on the following four areas.
1. Managing Fleets
Organizations dependent on fleets — whether those trucks are delivering parts and materials to them or delivering their products to customers — are often stymied by delays.
“An IoT system can give you real-time visibility into delays — like unscheduled stops or mechanical issues — so you can take actions on your end to adjust,” Nainani says. “You can track shipments, routes, and unexpected stops and make adjustments accordingly.”
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