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Shine on You Crazy IoT

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Gartner’s hype cycle. (Careful with that x-axis, Eugene.)

Did you hear that? Sounded like a “thump,” didn’t it?

That was the sound of the Internet of Things (IoT) bottoming out in the “trough of disillusionment.” But never fear: Supply chain leaders will finally learn how to adapt IoT to their needs and ascend a “slope of enlightenment” in the next few years. From there, it’s a straight shot to the “plateau of productivity.”

Before you ask what anyone’s been smoking (although, really, “trough of disillusionment” does sound like the name of a Pink Floyd bootleg), those are terms Gartner uses to describe a technology’s journey through the “hype cycle.” And right now, IoT is about midway through that cycle.

Perhaps we should let them (Gartner, not Floyd) explain.

“IoT is in the trough because we see that many companies are implementing the technology, but they struggle to define the best opportunities for using its measurement and tracking capabilities,” said Mike Burkett, vice president/distinguished analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “We see further potential to grow its use over the next several years. Gartner estimates that installed IoT endpoints for manufacturing and natural resources industries are forecast to grow to 1.9 billion units in 2028. That is five times from 331.5 million units in 2018.”

Gartner projected it will take another 3 to 5 years to before IoT has a “transformational impact” on supply chains. In a 2019 survey, the firm found that 59% of respondents had partially or fully deployed IoT across their entire organizations. Another 22% were piloting IoT and 15% had not invested yet, but planned to do so in the next two years.

“We have categorized IoT as a ‘transformational technology’ because it has the potential to impact many areas of the supply chain in a broad and profound way,” Burkett said. “While the most obvious use cases are in manufacturing, IoT can also help improve customer service because it enables leaders to better understand customer needs. More mature organizations will also be able to create information-based products such as providing visibility and analytics for better asset usage.” Or, to put it another way, “welcome to the machine, IoT.”

Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Strategy, 2020” can be accessed here. No word yet on when it might be available on Spotify or Apple Music.

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