Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jan-Feb 2017 Contents REAL-TIME DATA TRACKING GAINS CURRENCY IN
TRANSFORMING BUSINESS OPERATIONS
Futurists predict that we will soon live in
a world where things will never get lost.
Thanks to real-time information relying
on GPS, Bluetooth, RFID, and the internet, it is
becoming easier to keep track of things -- or find
them if they ever get lost -- and this increased
visibility has been a boon for organisations.
In our day-to-day life, we are already reaping
the fruits of such real-time visibility. Take
Uber for example: a pioneer that popularised
the idea that a sharing economy is extremely
efficient in producing and analysing real-time
traffic data, and based on this, it is able to
quickly adjust to booking demands by placing
more or fewer cars in an area. Similarly, the
Google-owned navigation service Waze relies
heavily on real-time, user-generated traffic
data, such as accidents or traffic jams on the
road, so it can give users the fastest possible
route to their destinations.
The concept of real-time processing is
relatively new in the computer world; its
predecessor was batch processing, by which
businesses needed to wait until the end of
each month to collect and count their receipts.
Real-time processing has dramatically changed
the way enterprises operate and significantly
reduced the time it takes for decision-makers
to get access to operational data, analyse it,
and make more astute decisions in real time.
In other words, the processing and analysis can
happen simultaneously, turning organisations
into methodical machines that are agile to
respond swiftly to market and operational needs.
The real-time visibility allows enterprises to know
where their inventory, people and equipment are
at any time, allowing them to deliver faster to
customers and ensure that the right amount of
inventory is maintained where it is needed most.
Drivers for businesses to adopt
real-time data collection
Just a few years ago, Big Data didn't even exist.
Most data generated in the past had been, by
current standards, smattering. Today, data is
measured in terabytes (trillions) and petabytes
(quadrillions); several years down the road, even
those numbers would seem small especially as
more organisations look to adopt the Internet of
Things (IoT). For example, in Zebra's recently
released Warehouse 2020 Vision Study, 72% of
respondents polled said they plan to adopt IoT
technologies by 2020 and 60% also said they
will be investing more in analytics.
The staggering amount of data available
will provide visibility to organisations, which
can bring about more accurate analysis and
predictions that were once impossible.
With this growth, it is fitting that a new
industry category has emerged known as
Enterprise Asset Intelligence. It harnesses the
three megatrends that are currently driving the
enterprise IT space: the Internet of Things (IoT),
enterprise mobility, and cloud computing. Using
a combination of connected mobile devices,
scanners, sensors, and wireless connectivity,
organisations are able to embrace real-time data
in their operations.
The trends propelling Enterprise
Tags -- barcodes or RFID -- can be affixed to
anything, from wine bottles to NFL players'
shoulder pads to the pockets of villains -- as
seen in the latest instalment of the Jason
Bourne movie. These tags give a digital voice to
objects that are otherwise unable to connect in
real time to the network.
Mobile devices, including smartphones and
handheld computers used in an enterprise
environment, can read information encoded
on these tags and send them wirelessly to a
database or electronic management system over
the network. This wireless web of devices is
essentially IoT in one of its most basic forms.
The use of mobile scanners and devices
reduces the reliance on the traditional pen-and-
paper process which is prone to errors due to
poor handwriting or inaccurate data entry. The
data is also available instantaneously and can
be analysed in real time, increasing productivity
and agility to respond to any operational
Cloud computing is another indispensable
component for yielding massive amounts of
information and increasing operational visibility.
It is not only about building data centres and
computing resources on demand, but also
about aggregating data captured by the sensors,
managing real-time analytics, and converting
them into immediately actionable business
insights. At the same time, enterprises do not
need to deploy costly and complicated servers
and wireless controllers at all its locations, but
can instead connect multiple remote locations to
a single corporate network by connecting each
location over a wireless cloud controller.
In a warehouse, staff use RFID and barcode
tags to track a product's exact location. Imagine
a mammoth warehouse that thousands of
products call home -- knowing exactly where
something is located becomes the very
foundation of an efficient warehouse.
Having optimal visibility into an organisation's
operations is what business leaders have
been yearning to have for years. With the
increasing amount of data generated and
collected, enterprises are now able to gain
greater visibility that was unheard of before. By
utilising technologies that enable real-time data
analytics and insights, organisations are able
to achieve tangible increments in productivity
and efficiency, subsequently making a real
difference in their day-to-day operations and
their bottom lines.
Ryan Goh is vice president and general
manager, Asia Pacific, at Zebra Technologies.
To find out more about how Enterprise Asset
Intelligence can offer visibility visit Zebra's
website at https://www.zebra.com/ap.
"Cloud computing is another indispensable component
for yielding massive amounts of information and
increasing operational visibility."
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
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