What exactly is the internet of things, and how is it evolving in business and the supply chain? Jennifer Halstead, chief financial officer with Link Labs, explains.
The internet of things (IoT) “is how everything connects,” Halstead says. From a consumer standpoint, that might mean “smart” refrigerators that tell when to replenish supplies, or a water bottle that monitors the user’s rate of hydration. For business, however, the IoT promises even greater value, providing a means of connect key aspects of the organization, including assets, people and data, and “getting all that information into one place.”
When it comes to supply chain management, the IoT can help organizations enable end-to-end visibility, from manufacturing through logistics and final delivery to the end customer and payment. The result can be “immediate digital transformation across the entire supply chain,” Halstead says.
One big challenge for users is managing the flood of data that’s coming from “smart” devices. For that to occur, users need to employ recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such technologies can help to turn around a trend of IoT projects being stalled because businesses didn’t know what to do with the data, which threatens to overwhelm them. “Over the last year,” says Halstead, “we’ve seen enhancements in how businesses use machine learning and data analytics to get what’s valuable to them out of it.” The IoT today, she adds, is being used not just to solve specific pain points, but to craft broader strategies for the business.
At the same time, Halstead says, companies must closely evaluate their IoT devices and systems to ensure that they’re not vulnerable to cyber attack — a threat that’s growing alongside the development and wider adoption of the technology.
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