May 9, 2023
by Seba Dyer

What is the Internet of Things?

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, or IoT as it is abbreviated to, in its simplest explanation refers to physical objects (things) which connect to the internet and interact with each other as a network, without the need for human interaction.

The IoT is already present in most of our daily lives. Think smart homes which adjust lighting, heat, and other features based upon inbuilt sensors, or smart watches, which track our health and provide real time updates to individuals or healthcare professionals.

Although a new and swiftly developing field, the potential uses of the connectivity of technology has almost limitless uses, and many experts see the IoT vastly changing the face of many industries essential for day-to-day life.

The crucial element to the IoT is it’s ability to connect devices and allow those devices to make decisions with no human interaction by using the data they continually collect and analyse.  

How can the IoT be applied to Supply Chain?

It is fairly easy to see how this technology could have a vast impact across the supply chain. From sensors that track the precise location of goods, or the temperature and humidity of perishables for food and pharma industries, to automated warehousing where devices can be used to trigger automated systems and robots for the movement of goods, there are many uses for this new tech, and we are just at the start of this journey.

According to the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the IoT is given a large focus as a facilitator for digital transformation in the Supply Chain sector. With the continued development of Industry 4.0 technologies, the IoT will allow companies to reduce waste, increase forecasting accuracy, adjust to so called “black swan events” with improved agility, and allow for greater control in an ever more volatile world.

What will this mean for recruitment in Supply Chain?

It would be easy to think that with so much new tech we will soon be living in a world where humans are obsolete and all decisions and actions are taken by programmed intelligent objects, computers and robots.

The reality, however, is that while emerging technology will certainly drastically alter the way in which we make decisions to drive efficiency, quality, and customer service, this technology will not make humans obsolete. In short, roles may be changed, but we still need people to make complex decisions based upon the new data, and many elements of Supply Chain rely on communication and collaboration – something you can’t really program, at least not yet.

When it comes to IoT there are many ways in which this technology creates new opportunities for roles within Supply Chain. As more devices interconnect, there will be a greater need for individuals who are able to analyse large complex data sets generated by these objects to find opportunities for improvements and optimisations. These devices also have a life-span and all need maintenance to ensure continued functionality, let alone the continued updates and upgrades needed to software and programming to ensure that the tools evolve as we discover newer innovative ways to put it to use.

Companies will also look to develop new tools, software, and platforms to utilise the IoT and make the complex systems functional for operational staff. In doing so businesses will need Dev Teams, Product Managers, and Architects able to understand the complexities both of technology and Supply Chain in order to develop bespoke systems that tailor to the specific needs of their supply chain.

Additionally, traditional roles such as an analysts, forecasters, and planners will, rather than disappear, modulate to incorporate an ever more technologically literate skillset. Candidates who upskill in this area (and businesses who provide support and training for this knowledge growth) will find themselves in a stronger position as we move through the twenties.

It’s easy to imagine a future where technology and supply chain collaborate even more closely than they already do with the leadership in both fields gaining more knowledge and exposure in each.

In Conclusion…

Organisations that place a large focus on using emerging technology like AI, ML, and IoT within their Supply Chain and Logistics networks will undoubtably have an advantage over their competitors – though the investment into the earliest versions of these technologies may be costly and out of reach to all but the largest blue-chip companies.

Utilising the ability to achieve greater data accuracy, automated processes, and a visibility never seen before will allow businesses to react with greater speed to incidents, speed fulfilment times, and use ‘in the moment’ analysis to lead decision making. But, without the focus on upskilling current staff, or working with institutions like universities and accreditation bodies to develop specialised training programs to develop individuals with a dual understanding of Supply Chain and Technology, there is the potential for a volatile job market with a scarcity of talent in this niche field.

We have already seen a shift at Pod Talent, with more junior roles requiring systems knowledge, and the salaries of key skillsets such as aforementioned Architecture and Product Management positions inflating at a greater rate than other roles in the supply chain field. We believe that collaborating with a dedicated talent partner who has a unique understanding of the complexities of both supply chain and technology will be an immense value add in the effort to digitise and innovate in this area.

If you want to reach out to Simon to discuss any element of this article, what your business is doing in the supply chain tech space, or simply for an informal chat around the market, they can be contacted via email.