The Internet of Things (IoT) is not living up to the hype when it comes to revolutionising supply chain logistics and management. More than 10 billion IoT devices around the world are constantly adding data to already overflowing data stores. Yet global supply chain disruption persists because it is not caused by a lack of data – which is why more IoT is not the answer.
The real answer lies in creating effective connections between numerous stakeholders performing a range of functions, across multiple enterprise platforms and in different jurisdictions. Until now, that has been easier said than done. But new ‘data mesh’ technology is providing a breakthrough.
Data mesh is based on a distributed architecture for analytical data management. It enables end-users to easily access and query data where it lives – without first transporting it to a data lake or data warehouse. Data ownership is distributed to domain-specific teams that manage, own and serve the data as a product.
The aim of data mesh is to eliminate the challenges of data availability and accessibility at scale. It allows business users and data scientists to access, analyse and use business insights from virtually any data source, in any location, without intervention from expert data teams. Data becomes accessible, available, discoverable, secure and interoperable.
Using the distributed architecture approach of data mesh, data from multiple supply chain systems can be captured and combined to create a ‘digital twin’ of a consignment – providing a single data product from which all stakeholders can get the visibility they need.
Intelligent data orchestration is then the secret to success for the supply chain. Just like in a traditional orchestra, a ‘conductor’ takes centre stage and synchronises all the various data inputs, applying analytics to enable end-to-end visibility and automation as goods move between stakeholders.
Each separate system communicates directly and only to the conductor platform – removing the need for numerous discrete connections and maintaining data integrity. The conductor ensures only relevant data is captured from connected domains – maintaining privacy across the various organisations. The platform can handle inputs from multiple sources and is scalable, secure and robust.
The digital twins within the platform combine data from systems such as order management, warehouse management, transport management and telematics systems to deliver rich data products that include consignment data, inventory, value, documentation, allocated transport and even the scheduled route.
Data from GPS trackers in delivery vehicles is then dynamically added to provide real-time location updates for each consignment. These updates can be distributed to key stakeholders across the network and, when recorded, build a lifecycle record for each consignment. Over time, these records also highlight any bottlenecks in the system so that remedial action can be taken.
Research suggests that businesses with optimal supply chains can halve their inventory holdings, reduce their supply chain costs by 15% and triple the speed of their cash-to-cash cycle. Data mesh and intelligent data orchestration are now offering a new route to unlock supply chain value and deliver competitive advantage.
This article is authored by Toby Mills, CEO of Entopy – a UK-based logistics SaaS provider.