The biggest mobility and IoT trends to hit Australian supply chains

MHD looks at why investing in mobile technology and IoT is the way forward for the industry and in doing so how to leverage the advantages of increased mobility.

One of the world’s most trusted providers of mobility and IoT management solutions has grown its workforce in Australia by more than 50 per cent over the past 12 months.

As mobility and the number of IoT endpoints within the retail sector continue to explode, due to increased consumer demand, SOTI expects to see more retailers needing to streamline the management of these devices.

Michael Dyson, Managing Director Australia & New Zealand at SOTI tells MHD the biggest mobility and Iot trends that are set to hit Australian supply chains this year.

How is Mobility and IoT making an increasing impact on the supply chain?
Michael: A survey conducted by SOTI revealed that only one in five respondents claimed to have complete visibility into their business-critical mobility solutions, limiting their ability to quickly diagnose and fix issues. Across the supply chain, this can have an impact on dispatching, customer relationship management, asset management, mobile point of sale (mPOS) and warehouse management. For transportation and logistics companies, adopting a mobile-first strategy can improve workforce performance efficiencies, increase sales, improve decision making speed and scale and, ultimately, a company’s competitive advantage. Moreover, the research found that when mobility solutions fail, they have a big impact on workflows and contribute to sharp drops in productivity. With each incidence of failure, workers lose over a hundred minutes of productivity, which can cause a ripple effect throughout an organisation as others who depend on the outcome are impacted.

What are your thoughts on emerging delivery methods?
Michael: Immediacy is an increasingly crucial aspect of the shopping experience. Consumers want their purchases straight away and expect retailers and e-commerce businesses to provide better delivery options.
If retailers want their online delivery options to be in line with customer expectations, their supply chain and 3PLs need to provide a faster and more convenient delivery process. Some retail and e-commerce companies have started offering same day delivery options. This adds pressure on logistics providers to ensure they are able to keep up with this and encourage them to look at new timesaving delivery options like drones. While not appropriate to handle all online deliveries, such as bulky items, I believe that we will see a growth in drone usage in the coming years.

What are the current technology trends in the supply chain sector?
Michael: Data and the visibility of assets are the most powerful tools available to organisations and they are currently underutilised across the supply chain sector. Broadening the use of technology to analyse data and better plan, forecast and manage all elements of the supply chain will be key trends. Once this data analysis is conducted, intelligent decisions around the implementation of IOT, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can be made.

What trend do you think will most impact Australian supply chains this year and in the future?
Michael: The events thus far in 2020 have changed the supply chain forever. Whilst completely unpredictable, the impact of COVID-19 will in fact expedite the development of new solutions to meet the unprecedented growth in demand for last mile delivery and the facilitation of better supply chain solutions to service these needs. E-commerce has instantly become critical in supporting those whose movement has been restricted, no longer a choice but for some the only option. This will clearly have a permanent impact on brick and mortar retailers, who will have to rethink how they engage with their customers.

What do consumers want from retailers?
Michael: Retail customers want the best of both worlds – the immediacy of online shopping with the personal touch of brick and mortar stores. The State of Mobility in Retail Report looked at how ready consumers are to engage with new technologies that satisfy their hybrid retail desires. When it comes to meeting consumer demand in the current climate, retailers have a tough task. Blending the speed and convenience of digital, with the personal touch of more traditional human-based interactions, is no small feat, especially given the understandable resistance among shoppers to indulge in brand new digital tools right away.
Overall, the general theme suggests that personalisation is key – if personal information is kept secure. While more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of consumers want personalised in-store experiences from mobile devices, one-third (32.6 per cent) are unwilling to sacrifice personal data security to improve their in-store experience.

Why is it important to strengthen technology as part of industry 4.0?
Michael: Technology and mobility are transforming organisation’s operations and represent a crucial channel for interfacing and interacting with customers and employees. Access to increasingly powerful mobile devices, intuitive and immersive applications and robust networks, has significantly changed the way we work. With more than 50 per cent of the workforce mobile – representing 1.7 billion workers – mobile solutions are no longer a luxury but rather a necessity for many of these mobile workers to perform their jobs. Whether it’s supply chain workers, field service technicians, delivery drivers, nurses or first responders, many of these workers depend on reliable access in real-time to critical information at the point of interaction.
However, mobility has also represented a game of compromises, especially with respect to both the performance of the network, the application and the mobile device. Considering the criticality of the workflows supported by many of these enterprise mobile solutions, the impact of failure can be significantly disruptive. In fact, according to research conducted by SOTI, the consequence of each failure incident can result in over 100 minutes in lost productivity – or 23 per cent of a daily shift.
The nature of mobile and wireless technologies, and the environments they are used in to support business-critical applications, dictates that failures will occur. The challenge is how prepared organisations are to respond to the outages to minimise the disruption. Given the critical nature of mobile solutions for many organisations today, providing support staff with real-time visibility into the performance characteristics of these solutions, and the tools to expeditiously address problems, substantially reduces the disruption caused by poorly performing solutions.

How does SOTI services help supply chains keep up with rising e-commerce demands in Australia?
Michael: SOTI works with many of the major retail and transport and logistics organisations across Australia and with the emergence and now rapid expansion of e-commerce, the SOTI ONE Platform plays an integral role in the demand for better and faster services.
Universally, SOTI and our partners are seeing the deployment of Android technology, the broad digitisation of work practices through application deployment and the focus on more intelligent use of data across the industry. Our customers rely on SOTI in conjunction with our partners to efficiently and effectively deploy, update, manage and support their mobile technology.

How can supply chains advance in the current climate?

Michael: Supply chains must seamlessly integrate new and existing supply chain technologies so they can be sure the technology works for both the consumer and business. Consumer expectations are higher than ever before, and when brand loyalty comes down to consumers easily ordering and receiving their purchases as quickly as possible, there is no room for error in the supply chain.
Australian retailers and logistics providers can achieve smooth running of their supply chain technologies if they have a trusted mobility and IoT management solution in place that helps ensure technologies work the way they’re meant to all the time, with no downtime, while ensuring security and compliance.

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