The internet of things is already on track to change many aspects of technology: the amount of bandwidth available, the number of IP addresses, the market for wearable goods, and the move towards creating personal home networks are just a few. But research firm Gartner has recently predicted that the explosion of internet-connected devices around the world is going to significantly alter how the supply chain works.
VISUAL CONTEXT: INCREASE IN DEVICES WORLDWIDE
The basic premise is that — because there will be hordes of new devices, all with varying levels of internet connectivity and intelligence — a new network of communication will develop a new system of supply-chain leader information access and cyber-risk exposure.
The firm predicts a 30-fold increase in the number of physical devices connected to the internet by 2020 — putting the global number at around 26 billion — but the types of devices is also pertinent. The level of intelligence that will make up many of the future’s technological elements will be a contributing factor to the advanced network of communication that will power the new supply chain. Michael Burkett, managing vice president at Gartner, comments further on that piece of the puzzle in the firm’s official statement:
It’s important to put IoT maturity into perspective, because of the fast pace at which it is emerging, so supply chain strategists need to be looking at its potential now. Some IoT devices are more mature, such as commercial telematics now used in trucking fleets to improve logistics efficiency. Some, such as smart fabrics that use sensors within clothing and industrial fabrics to monitor human health or manufacturing processes, are just emerging.
The challenges that arise with the proliferation of so many devices have not been fully realized, but they can be somewhat anticipated, and cyber warfare is possibly the utmost concern. Protecting the cyber security of devices that become part of the supply chain information network is key to maintaining delivery and order-taking accuracy. As the internet of things builds out, ensuring the security of the vast amounts of new disruptive technologies will be paramount.