Commentary: IoT for Shippers

Powered by the Internet of Things, the next generation control tower will extend supply chain visibility and control tower services down to the level of things – however large, small, or geographically dispersed they may be. Rather than connecting just the traditional supply chain entities, these control towers will reach into a single piece of industrial equipment, a consumer’s refrigerator, or even a part of the human body.

By leveraging third-party logistics (3PL) providers’ positioning in the global supply chain and recent investments in traditional control towers, 3PL-configured Control Tower of Things (CToT) offerings for manufacturers and retailers represent a real and not too distant opportunity for creating supply chain value.

Now is the time for shippers to work with their 3PLs to proactively and collaboratively transition their existing control towers to CToTs and to prioritize developments and rollouts:

• Visioning: How can existing and emerging IoT technologies eliminate blind spots in your current control tower? How might more granular and timely information help drive better decision making? What new services might a CToT enable you to offer your customers?

• Technology selection: Your 3PLs may need to engage new technology partners and consider if their existing control tower technology platforms can be scalable to and are compatible with emerging IoT standards and your company’s requirements. Are your own systems and processes CToT-ready?

• Implementation: Which control tower enhancements will have the biggest impact? What early-stage pilot programs and rapid prototyping might accelerate the design and rollout of new solutions?

• Organizational capabilities: Does your organization have the skills and resources to innovate and the mindset to take and accept risks? What about your 3PL?

While modern physics introduced limits to our worldview, for supply chain managers the world of CToT is almost limitless.

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