Innovation in technology is pushing us into the future at a rapid pace. Just look at the modern supply chain – advancements like predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, increased connectivity and automation of all kinds are changing business as usual. Businesses need to embrace technology now.

With the growth of e-commerce, organizations are expected to offer customized products and services and deliver orders faster than ever before. According to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, more than 31 billion items were dispatched and transported in 2015. This same index expects a total increase in shipping volume of 20 percent by 2018. This rapid escalation means that businesses must use all the technology and data available to improve supply chain synchronization and delivery speed without increasing costs.

By analyzing the data from our connected devices, businesses can provide a better experience for customers while also adding value to their organizations.

Optimizing the customer experience

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has helped in this effort. At its core, the IoT is the interconnectivity of everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. With objects connected throughout the supply chain, the IIoT can provide operations data from manufacturing up until the moment of delivery. Businesses gain a lot from access to consumer IoT data, like capturing consumer behavior and demand patterns from how they use products. Today, customers expect improved and instant experiences; smart data helps the supply chain adapt to and meet these demands.

By analyzing the data from our connected devices, businesses can provide a better experience for customers while also adding value to their organizations. Retailers can see what items are most popular, and even what path customers take through the store or website most frequently. The retailer can then adjust their store or website to ensure customers can easily get what they want.

Operational processes change with technology

For example, UPS redesigned their routes to optimize the journey for efficiency. According to the company, UPS now uses 10 million fewer gallons of fuel, emits 20,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide and delivers 350,000 more packages each year. Even without an official policy, delivery drivers now have easy access to real-time traffic apps, like Waze or Google Maps, and can adjust routes around traffic delays, accidents, or other things that could impact delivery. Using smart data helps improve forecasting, planning, and awareness – in short, it makes businesses more efficient.

Evolving business models

This technological innovation is also shaping business models. Organizations should ask how they can combine digital technology and supply chain to improve their business and continue to ask what new technologies they can use. Consider Netflix. Their DVD-by-mail subscription service initially replaced brick-and-mortar rental. Fast-forward ten years and Netflix began offering movies and television shows through the cloud. This is a prime example of continuing to innovate by embracing technology and adjusting to evolving consumer behavior.

Smart data is a valuable tool and is key for long-term success. Consider how you can leverage data to make your customers’ lives easier, streamline your operations, and better meet the needs of your business. We have the technology; if we use it to our advantage, we can achieve great success.