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Next-Gen Supply Chain: Connecting IoT Data to the Bottom Line

The rise of the Internet of Things is bringing about a shift in how companies operate.
By Carsten Krause

With the IoT comes greater flexibility for customers as well. Manufacturers realize that customers are shifting behavior and looking to upgrade pre-loaded base models of their products with additional features that can be updated instantly via the internet for a one-time fee, a subscription charge or a pay-as-you-go model. What this means is that today's customers expect products and services exactly when and how they want them. This is why businesses will need to adapt to new models in order to transform the value of the IoT into revenue potential through customer service and satisfaction.

Recognizing this, companies leveraging the IoT in their supply chain are able to take instant gratification to the next level to deliver the ultimate in customer experience. We are entering a time when customers will not need to re-order anything. Smart organizations will not only collect data on the performance of a given device, but also look at how tha customer is using said device. When a product gets low, replenishment actions are triggered automatically and arrive to the customer before they need to re-order themselves. Is a device defective? Not a problem. When a device is connected to the IoT, smart organizations can collect and analyze data in real time to set up maintenance schedules, proactively intervene when a device needs servicing and gauge long-term device performance trends that will help the company to drive future improvements. If need be, a new device will be automatically shipped before the customer even recognizes there is a problem.

By allowing companies to redesign supply chain processes for greater efficiency, the IoT is helping organizations to dramatically reduce the amount of time from click to fulfillment. This makes the process of receiving products easier than ever, simultaneously increasing customer lifetime value and loyalty.

The Bottom Line
All points along the supply chain are dependent on each other to run smoothly, and the increasing connectivity between them is creating levels of visibility we would have never thought possible just a few short years ago. The result is a well-oiled machine that optimizes efficiency across the entire product lifecycle, from production through end-user consumption.

Ultimately, the rise of the IoT is bringing about a singular shift in how companies operate, and our power lies in our ability to curate, manage and leverage this IoT data from partners, suppliers and customers, and to effectively turn it into actionable knowledge.

Carsten Krause is ModusLink's VP of enterprise architecture and chief information security officer.

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