IoT Business News: Can you explain how the transition from ‘scan it’ to ‘sense it’ technologies will impact global retailers and supply chains? How will these changes impact end-users/ consumers?
Steve Statler: For global retailers and their employees, the transition from ‘scan it’ to ‘sense it’ will save precious resources. The traditional ‘scanning’ method retailers have used is implementing handheld scanners. This takes up employee time, a scarce resource that could be better spent elsewhere. Additionally, manual scanning is inherently inaccurate given its reliance on workers – if workers are not performing perfectly, which is typically the case in the real world, these results break down – and upon fixed infrastructure, which limits information to one moment or location. By using ambient IoT, radios don’t require expensive people or expensive readers. Ambient sensors are already pervasive and visibility is comprehensive across a number of buildings and delivery vehicles, meaning it has a low barrier of entry for global retailers.
What role will the ambient IoT play in this transition?
For the transition to a ‘sense it’ culture, the ambient IoT is essential. The technology builds on the learnings and automations used in 1st generation UHF RFID, adding cloud intelligence and utilizing commodity radios that are already pervasive. The pervasive nature of the UHF RFID, in combination with the ever emerging standards, will allow for a smooth transition.
How can businesses successfully transition their business from manual inventory scanning to sensor technology?
For businesses to successfully transition their business, it will require adoption of battery free Bluetooth tags, readers, and cloud applications that are designed and built for a serialized, digital product passport. A benefit of the transition is that there is hardly any transition labor for employees, as they do not need to be retrained for scanning.
How does ambient IoT improve upon traditional methods of supply chain management?
Ambient IoT improves upon traditional methods of supply chain management in a number of ways. The technology enables a transition to real-time visibility that is end to end across all spaces, including items in transit. This alone is an improvement given that traditional ‘scanning’ methods of supply chain management lack the opportunity to provide real time information. Ambient IoT allows for much higher accuracy. Simultaneously, ambient IoT allows for sensing of additional conditions, such as humidity levels.
What are the larger implications for business owners when implementing ambient IoT?
For business owners, improvements in visibility from ambient IoT allow for optimized business models. The technology allows for lower labor costs, given the lack of employees scanning and less capital tied up in inventory. Additionally, the technology allows for better intelligence and insights, meaning less out-of-stocks, better service levels, and higher sales. Finally, the product can allow for smaller store footprints, as it limits the necessity to order high stock of items.
In addition to these labor and inventory benefits, businesses that have already implemented the technology can capitalize upon the opportunity to transition to product as a service as well. Finally, for all companies, the tech allows for a better ability to comply with upcoming regulations that require visibility across supply chains for customers.
Are there any other use cases for ambient IoT within supply chain management?
As we transition from supply chains to demand chains, the ambient IoT will show, in real time, demand signals from stores or even homes. As sustainability becomes top of mind for many companies, the tech allows for circular product usage, meaning businesses can reuse and resell products in the aftermarket. With better tracking and a source of authentication and provenance for resellers, resellers can sell second hand products for higher costs with proof of validity, and producers can participate in the revenue from resale.