Businesses out there have bought, selling, moving, and servicing as part of their make up, which also means that the Internet of Things is already at play. Just like how the internet affected every business a couple of decades ago, the potential impact of IoT is riding on similar wavelengths, which is to become globally disruptive and impose a transformation of business models.
While this phenomenon continues to rage on in anticipation of a brighter and more informed future for all of us, there are some assumptions about the Internet of Things in the logistical context that need to be addressed.
Is IoT only for developed countries?
Countries that are already reasonably advanced in their infrastructures aren’t the only ones with the goal of growing their economies. Developing countries are well aware that logistics is one of the most important facets for sustainable growth and IoT in logistics presents the unerring opportunity for them to collaborate with the big players right away by going right into wireless technologies, bypassing the need to fully invest in landlines.
It has been estimated (ITU) that last year alone, over 95% of the world’s population was in touch with network coverage of 2G enabled mobile networks, and about 69% who were under a 3G network. A lack of resources would mean that, in a developing country, more cost-effective measures would make sense. Not well known is the fact that a variety of uses and applications of IoT technologies had already crept into the infrastructures of developing countries, as far as a decade back.
Does IoT connect everything in logistics?
In logistics, there are many variables and moving parts like containers, reefers, chassis, tractors, trucks, ships, airplanes, people, and information systems that are employed in the never-ending process of handing off goods around the globe and clock.
The real question about IoT is not so much “does it really connect everything?” as it is “what more could it connect?”. Sensors and nodes can be placed almost anywhere, and the seamless chains of information that sprout from these touchpoints, but they have not yet connected everything because there are still devices that need tailor-made sensors. When these devices finally enter the ecosystem of connectivity, they will then contribute significantly to cost reduction, which is a mainstay goal for resource owners and service providers alike.
To accelerate the growth in connecting everything, of course, certain challenges need to be met: cost, function, size, battery life, durability, longevity, security, hardware/firmware upgrades, communication capabilities, software, etc. Innovation is built on needs, lest we forget.
All data captured is important
By lowering the need for human intervention in a process that exists to serve humans, it is important to note that not all data that gets captured by the ecosystem is ‘newsworthy’ or important. With supply chains being continually fragmented, segmented, and dispersed geographically, there is bound to be a load of data that adds no value to the eventual goal of cost reduction.
Some might even say “forget big data! look at small data”, where the latter is used to evaluate current states and conditions and could be a result of analyzing bigger data. So while seeing the bigger picture is always nice and dandy, it really is the small data that has the ability to trigger off a chain of events which then incorporates behavioral or trending information which eventually makes up the bigger data. So maybe the real goal with data is to streamline and tweak where necessary at the base level before we see the desired fruit.