IoT’s Biggest Impact --The Supply Chain

By Tom Linton, Chief Procurement and Supply Chain Officer at Flex

Welcome to The Age of Intelligence™. Revolutionizing our world with a velocity, scale and force so powerful, it is transforming and disrupting established ways of value creation, doing business, social interactions and even behaviors. Digital transformation is happening at a speed never seen before as more established and new enterprises are challenging the status quo by developing more connected, intelligent products and services across industries. Smartphones, for one, are acting like a remote device that can control our home, office, cars or even interact with our clothes.

Bringing these products to the marketplace requires one thing in common, an efficient supply chain system. As products grow more complex and supply chains become more complicated, a dynamic, connected and inter-dependent supply chain ecosystem must be in place so as not to slow down time-to-market. At the same time, this will reduce inefficiencies through increased transparency and insight. This was validated by my industry peers from SAP, IBM, IDC and Hong Kong IoT Advisory Council as we gathered for a roundtable session in Hong Kong recently.

Tom Linton, Chief Procurement and Supply Chain Officer at Flex with Hong Kong IoT Advisory Council

When an organization implements a truly intelligent supply chain, new leaps in productivity will follow. Robert Burton, Hong Kong Internet of Things Industry Advisory Council’s Executive Vice President said that “putting smart sensors across the manufacturing shop floor will enable companies to measure and trace activities in real time, and the captured data will allow us to discover insights that we wouldn’t have known without that added intelligence.”  Conclusively, speed and data will lead to increased customer satisfaction and minimize obsolete inventory, improving financial performance. At Flex, our research has found that increasing supply chain velocity by one day can save us up to $60 million for each day.

Growing Connectivity

Changes to supply chains are a reflection of trends in the wider world, where we’re becoming vertically-integrated and connected online, due to free, real-time information, rapid expansion of the mobile internet and affordable, unlimited cloud access. The amount of connected devices is staggering, and it’s set to grow. IDC predicts 9 billion connected things in four years’ time, but the majority of those things will be in the enterprise and industrial sectors. The consumer sector will need more time to take off – investors today are primarily motivated to improve supply chains and create ways to implement real-time business processes.  

Enabling A Digitized Supply Chain – Flex’s response

At Flex, we have created a software-based, real-time mobile collaboration tool, called ”Flex Pulse.” This platform monitors all aspects of the company's global supply chain, providing up-to-the-minute data analysis while aggregating and parsing global events that might impact supply chain efficiency. Live video feeds of global production facilities and integrated videoconferencing capabilities establish direct links with Flex’s sites around the world, to address issues in real-time. The steady stream of actionable data provides the intelligence needed to make informed decisions in real-time, facilitating better contingency planning, crisis preparedness and response.  Flex Pulse can also be accessed through any computer, tablet or smart phone and serves as a platform for collaboration between multiple users.


Flex Pulse Center delivering realtime supply chain data

The Age of Intelligence has arrived, and surviving disruption will require companies to reinvent themselves before their competitors do. Utilizing a digitized, connected supply chain system is an important step for companies wanting to thrive in this modern age.