The IoT (Internet of Things) is getting closer all the time. Of course it's easy to think about connecting your thermostat (already done), your refrig (already done) and your TV (also already done). But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Two of the main stumbling blocks to proliferation are price and size. But that's about to change in a big way, paving the way for the replacement of RFID devices as supply chain management tools.
As volumes of Big Data increase, the ability of a business to take advantage of it will be a strategic advantage. By making decisions faster than competitors will be key to survival. The CIO needs to understand HOW decisions are made and put the ducks in a row to get the right data, get the right tools, and, most importantly, present to management in a way that is USEFUL. I have picked a few key issues to discuss.
The more I read about how smart items are evolving, the more I'm convinced that the supply chain needs to be at the front of the line in devising strategies for dealing with, enabling, and making use of these technologies. The triad of technologies that I see most important to the efforts are digital tags, 3D printers, and mobile communications.
We're constantly seeing new uses for big data. So much so that it's not even necessary to describe what the term means. Is the use of huge amounts of amorphous data making us better at our work, or is it adding layers of abstraction over the realities of the world?
A new term (at least to me) has emerged that is being used in conjunction with the IoT. We've discussed the Internet of Things a few times and I've even suggested that the technology behind IoT could supplant RFID. One issue with managing the thousands or hundreds of thousands of items that will eventually populate this new category is the volume of digital chatter that will crowd the existing network infrastructure and the Cloud.
We've been tracking and writing about cloud based systems since the first issue of ec-bp.com. Of course back then in 2003 we referred to is as SaaS or even just 'online applications.' Since that time the world has mostly overcome its apprehensions about putting corporate data and processes outside the firewall. Even so, Cloud speculation and operations continue to be big news. To this I say - Whoop-de-doo!
The technology that supports the supply chain is pretty amazing stuff. With the multiple combinations of item tagging, sensing, reading, and recording methods it seems strange that there are still gaps in visibility. Or maybe that's exactly the problem - too many options from too many directions.
When the norm for computer operations was locating all computing resources within a single location IT concentrated on maintaining frequent and accessible backups to the company data. Copies of the backup were moved offsite. Some organizations even created replication sites where they installed duplicate (but usually smaller) systems that could be brought online by restoring the offsite backup in the case of a local disaster that rendered the main facilities unavailable. For a lot of companies, the process and practice has changed... mostly for the better.
We have seen publicity from IBM about how they are working with the automotive industry (both OEM's and suppliers) to created the “Connected Car” It is all about using big data, cloud computing, mobile and social to change the way the automotive industry does business. They have discovered that the “Internet of Things” is laying in wait under the hood or behind the dashboard for sharp businesses to take advantage of.
What's the difference between tracking individual items using IoT technology and RFID technology? Aside from the costs associated with each - Oh wait! It's the costs of each that 's keeping both from gaining ground. Both technologies can provide item level identification but RFID can now be considered 'old' tech while IoT (Internet of Things) is the current darling of the development world. Here's what I see happening over the next few years.