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AI and IoT is the future of Supply Chain Management

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

AI and IoT is without a doubt one of the most important topics in business this decade. However, the scope of the topic itself seems to be mostly relegated to that of the more consumer-based aspects of the technology. Whether it’s smart home devices or the link between apps and customer experience, and so on, the general topic of conversation revolves around end-user applications. However, there is far more to be considered.

As business continues to evolve, the adoption and impact of AI and IoT is nothing short of astounding. And one of the best examples of the non-consumer applications of the technology is within supply chain management.

For instance, one of the best examples of how AI and IoT is impacting daily business process is through advanced asset tracking. And though asset tracking is nothing new—companies have always needed to know where their assets are while in transit—the injection of new technology is vastly changing the way assets are tracked.

Now, companies not only can know where assets are at all times, but they can also know the environmental factors surrounding the goods—monitoring everything from temperature, potential impact thresholds, moisture, and more—ensuring that asset damage is greatly minimized. This means far less loss and, ultimately, a better bottom line.

Of course, with asset tracking also comes far better inventory management. Using similar sensor technology, companies can now easily track the amount of inventory in stock. When quantities reach a certain threshold, management can be notified in real time that additional goods must be ordered or, in many cases, the system using advanced AI can simply place the order as needed without human interaction—greatly streamlining the process and making for a better end-user experience knowing that goods are in stock when needed.

However, the benefits to inventory don’t end there. As technology becomes more and more advanced, so do the analytics that can be gathered regarding the product. Real-time data can be applied to sales and marketing: they know what products are most popular, what products need additional market push, etc. By connecting the supply chain to other business units, companies can work in real time to increase sales and to reduce expenses on goods that are not as popular—better efficiency, better margin and, again, a better bottom line.

Another major benefit of AI and IoT within the supply chain management is that of corporate responsibility. And, in an age of endless information, consumers are now making informed choices on what they buy, where they buy, and who they buy from. This dynamic is now known as the difference between companies that do “well” versus those that do “good”—meaning that even though a company may do well as it pertains to profits, etc., the ethical aspects of the company in how it does good things for the environment, treats workers ethically, and so on, become paramount for future success.

This is where AI and IoT become an incredibly important part of the equation. The transparency created by the technology and tracking enables businesses to show consumers the ethical nature of their company. This technological advantage immediately aligns companies with the social conscience of their target demographics, while creating a tangible market advantage against competitors.

And lastly, one cannot forget about something as simple, but equally important, as maintenance. From vehicles, to ships, factory equipment, and more, AI and IoT are becoming a game changer for companies: not only reducing inefficiencies, but also greatly mitigating risk of costly downtime, and more. Instead of scheduled maintenance based on an average timeframe for a system to need potential fixes or upgrades, IoT and AI can create alerts, monitor system performance, and predict when a system or part may need maintenance before something catastrophic happens.

In all, AI and IoT are being used in so many different ways that, though the average person may never realize, the impact on business is almost undefinable—making for a future that is far more efficient, far more manageable and, of course, far more profitable.

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