The Internet of Things promises to transform the way humans, through their machines, interact with the Internet, and when you think about it, it’s already here. Manufacturing is a case in point.
Today, sensors attached to shop floor equipment are capable of sending reams of production and equipment data back to the ERP systems, which hold that data in a repository for future use or analysis.
Handheld scanners are used to track the movement of parts, pieces and production. Beyond that, they also aid warehouse workers in the movement — the picking, packing and shipping – of countless SKUs. Everyone from the folks walking the floor to the folks in the front and back offices can have access to the same production and inventory information, in real time, at the same time.
Smartphones in the customer service and CRM arenas have made possible up-to-date information on all manner of data, from customer sales and orders to inventory quantities on-hand to sales reports across the territory or across the globe. From checking into hotels to allowing physicians to check in on patient records from their phones and tablets, the interconnectedness of machines, ERP and the web has reached critical mass.
It’s the full-flowering of Bill Gates’ long-ago promise of IAYF: Information At Your Fingertips.
By 2020 according to one industry analyst, fully 95% of products are expected to be IoT enabled. (We think that’s a bit optimistic, but their point is well taken nonetheless.)
All these advances have their advantages of course. They save time – lots of it. They save money – again, lots of it. They speed up delivery, improve customer responsiveness, enable customers to become self-serving, and generally raise the level of satisfaction among a wide range of customers and their supporting companies.
For companies today frankly, there is little choice any more: adopt and adapt, or be left behind. Sometimes the toughest question becomes: where do we start? Luckily, there’s no shortage of consultants and solution providers willing and capable of providing the necessary guidance to get started. About the only thing you can’t do any more is… wait.