Monday, February 24, 2014

Future Trend of Tech and Supply Chain

­­This week, there is an article mentioning the “internet of things” which mentioned the potential impact on the way we live by technology advancement. The idea of internet of things is that with the development of networking technology and lowered cost of the technology, that eventually all devices in our daily lives will be able to connect to the bigger network and play its part by contributing data and making use of data.

This sounds very abstract or fiction movie like, but the fact is that the rate of change is so fast, that we can no longer use our knowledge of the past to predict future. I want to mention specifically here my personal experience with NEST, a name known by everyone with Google’s acquisition over it in the beginning of 2014. Well, I first got to know NEST not long before this; maybe about in the end of December 2013. I rented a family’s house in Boston for a few days for my travel. The house itself was quite old, at least 50 years of age but the decoration was new and comfortable. After arriving, the first thing attracted my attention is the small nest control unit on the wall, because when I walked by it, it automatically lit up and the temperature was shown there. The modern look and high-tech touch felt very different from the traditional and country style room.

I was very attracted by this little thing and searched its information online. It was quite shocking for me because this thing is just awesome! It’s connect to the air conditioning system and internet. It can detect the house owner’s behavior to adjust the temperature in the room to save energy to maximum degree. It can also be connected to owner’s smart phone and showing dashboard on the phone. So everything can be controlled remotely and smartly.

This little product mark the milestone that the appliances in our daily lives can also be smart. I believe similar ideas and operations will expand to supply chain as well. For example, in a retail store, the rack will be automatically monitored and no longer need employees to check periodically. It may also give instructions to other robots in the warehouse to fetch X amount of product A and Y amount B by Z time. This is highly possible due to the maturing technology of machine learning and more available cheap computing powers.

It is also a trend to bring end customers into the whole manufacturing and supplying chain. For example, the Blank Label business made its website very user-friendly. Without the development of internet technology and proper design, such customization process will be a headache for the customers, even it’s only a shirt. A lot of them might give up in the end.

I believe the author of “Internet of Things” was correct when mentioning in the end that if you don’t pay attention to these development and evolution, it’ll be too late when it becomes mainstream.

My question for this blog is how should supply chain get more prepared for the change?


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