Gartner is predicting a 30-fold increase in Internet-connected physical devices within the next six years, and says this will "significantly" alter how the supply chain operates, and create more "cyber-risk exposure".
So how much is a 30-fold increase exactly? We're talking about 26 billion devices on the "Internet of Things". For comparison, it was more like 0.9 billion just five years ago (Facebook just turned 10 if that helps add some perspective for you).
With regards to how this will change the supply chain, it's all about the flood of information that comes along with having so many connected devices. This will, of course, vary by industry.
"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," said Gartner managing vice president Michael Burkett. "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."
"Supply chain leaders must design their processes to operate in this digital business world," said Burkett. "This includes fulfilling the new expectations of customers and the volatile demands that digital marketing will create. A future supply chain will meet those expectations by converging people, business and things in a digital value network, and incorporating fast-emerging capabilities such as IoT and smart machines into this design strategy."
The firm makes the point that as the quantity of connected devices increases, greater fragmentation will occur while marketing budgets continue to increase. In other words, marketing efforts will have a broader array of devices to target, but all of that data from said devices should open up some interesting targeting opportunities at the same time.
You can find a lot more insights into the subject in Gartner's new report "Digital Marketing, Internet of Things and 3D Printing Are Digital-Business-Driven Disruptions for Supply Chains."
Gartner will discuss issues facing the supply chain industry at its Supply Chain Executive Conferences in May and September in Phoenix and London respectively.
Image via Gartner