The IoT has become a supply chain advantage
Data is power in today's business world. The value of information is being constantly reaffirmed through its power to grant companies better insights and improve their decision-making. The supply chain is no exception to this rule: The more data companies can use to direct their sourcing operations, the more likely they are to see the underlying patterns guiding their efforts.

One of the most intriguing ways to collect data today comes from the Internet of Things. This blanket term, applied to smart devices that communicate with one another, has applications in almost every area of business. With more varied sources of content, especially ones that were not easily measurable even a few years ago, supply chain leaders can drastically improve their own performance.

Effects felt in food sourcing
Internet of Business recently focused on the effects increased IoT access will have on sourcing in the food and grocery industries, based on research by IGD. The main takeaway is that the IoT can collect real-time data from a company's consumers and let that information filter down into all levels of the infrastructure. When an organization is aware of how its audience is interacting with its products, it can change up its sourcing on the fly.

The potential that IGD found is based on products themselves becoming sources of data. Items equipped with improved tracking technology can become beacons moving between different levels of the supply chain. When dealing with the grocery industry in particular, smart sensors on household objects such as refrigerators can deliver data that informs producers and retailers about how quickly their items are being used up.

Projections and predictions about distribution and consumption become downright outdated when compared to this living, breathing source of demand data. Sourcing operations that become quick and savvy enough to respond to this new and highly accurate source of truth can reap the rewards - reduced waste and increased efficiency at every link of the chain.

The IoT has supply chain implications, mainly through improved analytics.
The IoT has significant supply chain implications, mainly through improved analytics.
The next few years
What's coming down the pipeline for sensors in the supply chain? According to Supply Chain Dive, the creation of vast new data reserves has passed from "buzzword" status into real activity. The source explained that Mobile Expert's recent research on the IoT points to the smart device market tripling from today to 2022. By the end of the studied period, $70 million of IoT tech could be purchased each year. The general pattern underlying this expansion appears to be progress from passive sensors to even more intelligent technology.

The source noted that the true IoT may fare better than the tracking technology that has come before. While radio-frequency identification tags received considerable hype as the items that would open up supply chain visibility on a grand scale, they have thus far been limited in their transformative effectiveness. Smart devices will have to fare better to reach their potential. Retail Dive pointed out that trends are aligning: Companies want to sell their products across a host of channels, and to harness big data analytics. The data needed for these operations must come from somewhere, and the IoT is a great candidate.
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