The Future of the Mobile Workforce: Enterprise
In an effort to enable a fully distributed workforce, improve workers’ productivity and deliver better customer experiences, companies across industries have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives – those in supply chain, transportation and logistics, and retail are no exception. As companies navigate these changes, they will need to rethink ways to build resilient business operations, relying on both existing and emerging technologies to support workers in the weeks, months and years ahead. From increasing supply chain visibility to investing in advanced technologies, the time is now for businesses, of all types, to innovate.
Real-Time Supply Chain Visibility
According to an EY survey of supply chain executives, end-to-end visibility is the number one factor in creating a successful supply chain. Having visibility across every element of the supply chain enables better monitoring of raw materials inventory, production processes, supports optimization of operations and logistics planning, creates more streamlined finished goods inventory management, and more importantly, fosters cross-collaboration and better communications among manufacturers, suppliers, partners and customers.
In the months ahead, more companies will begin to better understand how data streams flow across the entire supply chain. IoT technologies such as IoT sensors, RFID tags, networks, software and mobile devices are able to capture or extract data from the edge, and transport it wirelessly, allowing companies to collect crucial information in a data warehouses to analyze and advance real-time decision-making and greater business intelligence.
With emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, companies will be able to build a proactive approach where a data-driven system can predict certain events based on past inputs and adjust systems accordingly. For example, with an intelligent supply chain, supply chain leaders will be able to identify points in time where extra inventory may be required, such as forecasted extreme weather events or during the peak holiday season, enabling them to better manage risks and prevent errors during inventory and fulfillment processes.
A Connected Era With 5G
5G has become the latest buzzword for enterprise technology. With its low latency, massive capacity and high bandwidth, mobile devices can be better connected within a decentralized network, which helps maximize the capabilities of machine-to-machine and machine-to-people communications.
The manufacturing industry will likely be one of the first to significantly unlock the benefits of 5G. Greater connectivity will help make plant operations more efficient. From remote monitoring of equipment to tracking inventory, defect diagnosis to real-time worker training, mobile tasks will be made easier due to the adoption of 5G. As the new network begins to roll out to more locations in the coming months, 5G will offer manufacturers a chance to build smart factories and fully connected warehouses.
Transportation and logistics is another area where 5G technology is expected to have a major impact. For so long, logistics carriers have struggled with last-mile deliveries, which is notably the costliest part of the supply chain. 5G will be able help bridge the gap between the local distribution center and a package’s final destination while streamlining costs for logistics carriers. In the years ahead, last-mile deliveries could be airborne and completely autonomous. When enabled by 5G, technologies such as drones and autonomous vehicles – although still in the early phases of development – will be able to help carriers reduce workforce costs by self-navigating to customers’ locations without shipping errors and delays.
In addition to building connected warehouses and streamlining last-mile deliveries, emerging technologies will evolve with the deployment of 5G. Artificial intelligence and drones are just a few notable examples.
Backed by sensor technologies, 5G will be able to streamline drones’ image and video-capturing capabilities so logistics workers can receive real-time updates on the delivery status and make changes to delivery routes as needed. Lastly, 5G can facilitate secured delivery with remote locker control by the recipients.
Managing Supply Chain Risks To Build Resilience
According to a Deloitte survey, companies that proactively manage supply chain risk spend 50% less to manage disruptions than companies that stated they aren’t proactive. In the immediate future, we will see a shift in mindset where supply chain leaders will incorporate supply chain risk management into their business strategies and planning in order to achieve operational resilience.
An important part of managing risk is choosing technology with a strong security posture. Across industries and especially in the supply chain industry, the Android operating system is increasingly being adopted within the enterprise space. According to an assessment by Gartner, Android received strong ratings in 26 of 30 security categories to help companies keep their devices and data safe.
On the software side, the Android OS has multiple layers of protection and requires end users’ permission to access applications and data to avoid the mobile system being compromised. From secure app sign-in and biometric authentication to encryption capabilities, more businesses are turning to Android to tackle complex mobility challenges in a connected workforce and protect themselves against supply chain risks.
Optimizing Retail Experiences
Today, two-day or even same-day delivery is not just a bonus point for quality customer service, but a requirement. To adapt to this need, retailers have turned some of their stores into “dark stores” or micro-fulfillment centers to better manage inventory. This provides an additional benefit: if the store is close to a package’s final destination, last-mile delivery also becomes easier for the retailer, helping them streamline costs where possible.
Across the retail industry, it’s clear that businesses, big or small, are leveraging advanced technologies to comply to safety guidelines. While we have seen some retailers begin to implement Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) models, curbside delivery and contactless payment, these innovative methods will be a popular choice even long after the pandemic, as they not only help create a safe shopping experience for customers, but enable quick and seamless transactions between customers and retail employees.
In the weeks and months ahead, customers will gradually return to in-person shopping but safety will remain their main concern. As a result, customers will pivot to using self-service kiosks and making purchases in advance using their mobile devices. The trend of self-service models such as grab-and-go will continue to evolve to make the buying experience easier for more customers.
Additionally, customers’ demand for real-time visibility continues to rise. As the package travels through the last mile, the integration of real-time data with supply planning systems and predictive technologies will help retailers better manage shipping status and delays, with the end goal to create a better experience for customers.
Looking ahead, new developments in advanced technologies will help enterprises better navigate disruptions in the supply chain and engage with customers in new and meaningful ways. In the near-term, technologies that enable safe, contactless experiences and real-time supply chain visibility will continue to be prioritized. Further in the future, emerging technologies like AI and 5G will enable proactive supply chain management and enhanced connectivity.
Enterprise digital transformation will be an ongoing process with new technologies and opportunities arising. It will be crucial for decision makers to evaluate their goals and processes regularly to determine which technologies will have the greatest impact for their business and customers.
This blog is part of an ongoing series. Check out the first part of the blog series where we discussed the future of law enforcement and technology’s role in enabling officers to work safer, smarter and more efficiently.
Stay tuned for the third part of the series where we will focus on where the utilities industry is headed next.