The Internet of Things (IoT) is real. It might be in its infancy, or perhaps a little awkward, but it is real. Furthermore, when it grows up it is going to revolutionize many industries. In fact, according to a 2015 Forrester Business survey a majority of large companies (over 1,000 employees) are using or plan to use IoT technologies. The retail industry is no different with IoT solutions deployed in both front-of-the-house applications (consumer experience) and back-of-the-house applications (supply chain). A few sample areas noted in CIO Magazine are, “smart shelves that detect when inventory is low, RFID sensors that track goods through the supply chain, systems that send personalized digital coupons to shoppers when they enter the store, and sensors that monitor the quality of perishable items”.
By all accounts, IoT has become the retail industry’s Swiss Army Knife, with hundreds of potential different use cases. However, the one common element across all of the use cases for IoT is data. Similar to a blog post I wrote this past August about digital analytics, data is what really drives the IoT bus. And not just aggregated data. According to Gene Wojciechowski former CIO of Walmart.com, “Retail is detail – they want to understand down to the minutest detail where the goods are and how up-to-date they are. Not only will IoT technology allow for better visibility, such as identifying within a 10-minute timeframe when goods will be delivered, it can also aid in loss prevention and be used to measure the impact of environmental factors, such as heat, on goods moving through the supply chain”.
So how does a retailer get started making use of their IoT with their new Swiss Army Knife?
The answer is a modern data analytics platform that addresses the 3 key factors:
- Data Everywhere – If IoT is pervasive through the customer experience and the supply chain then a retailer must be able to take advantage of multiple data sets because millions of sensors and devices will be raining data and it will not be raining in only one place.
- Retail is Detail – The detail matters, a data analytics platform capable of supporting a retailer's IoT needs to be able to handle not only large volumes of disparate data, but also be able to handle detailed data so no stone is left unturned (or lost in aggregate information).
- Association – If you have the data and the detail, you need to understand how your data is associated or related. If the sensors in your supply chain indicates a shipment is going to be late, aren’t you going to want to let your customer know the shipment to the store will be delayed?
offers a platform that provides the ability to pull data from multiple sources, at the details level, and its core technology associates the data providing a roadmap to discoveries for the business user at the corporate headquarters or out in the field. I invite you to take Qlik for a test drive with the Supply Chain – Inventory & Product Availability