Lately, tales of how the Internet of Things (IoT) have become a common staple of tech conversations. IoT devices have the potential to produce humongous volumes of data (a reason we usually hear Big Data and IoT in many presentations). We like to picture zillions of sensors generating gazillions of bytes, while the CIOs are tasked to find ways to handle the impending data tsunami.
But, will this Big Data ever be useful in real-time? Whether it is stopping that self-driving car from hitting that seemingly unaware pedestrian, or changing a delivery drone route based on last minute weather information, there will be some moments where a huge amount of data won’t necessarily make a significant difference on the immediate outcome. This will be the territory of smart devices.
And no, your smartphone is not a smart device. These are incredible tools enabling us to become more productive (When you have the right tools in supply chain planning you can be.), but they are helpless without us. They are attention-seeking toddlers, capable of many things. But they have no clear definitions of good or bad behaviors, and they have no sense or purpose without someone there to guide them. I can’t tell my phone to go charge himself, I can’t tell him to make me a coffee, and certainly I wouldn’t trust it talking to strangers all by itself.
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It’s October 21, 2015. Does the mere mention of that date get anyone else excited about the possibility of seeing Marty McFly and Doc emerge from the DeLorean? Today is officially the day the duo jump to in Back to the Future II to save McFly’s son.
From self-drying jackets, to flying cars, and let’s not forget the hoover boards, Back to the Future promised a lot of things back in the day, and unfortunately, not all of them became real… at least not on a permanent basis. Pepsi and Universal films have both embraced the pop-culture phenomenon by releasing Pepsi Perfect and a trailer for Jaws 19, which were mentioned in the iconic ‘80s flick.
Going down memory lane I found some ‘still-pending’ future promises related to supply chain and logistics. While lots of them have become a reality (MRP calculations in seconds? check!), here’s my take on what I would have expected to be common place today if you’d asked me 10 years ago (as I was nowhere near logistics back in 1985!
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Did you know it costs approximately $100 to send an envelope from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to Caracas, Venezuela? That’s for three to five day service! New York to London? That will cost you $50 to $100, but it’ll get there overnight. Of course, we’re not only paying to get that envelope from point A to point B, but for a certain level of service as well. What if you don’t require the highest level of service, but still want to avoid the nightmares of dealing with national snail mail companies? (To be fair, Canada has had its share of mail nightmares in the past).
A popular subject in several expat Facebook groups is checking to see who’s planning on flying back to their origin country, and whether those individuals would mind taking along a little extra cargo. I’ve been part of a few of these groups. It usually starts with someone asking for it as a favor, but some, particularly if it’s something bigger than an envelope, offer to pitch in a few bucks to help cover the checked baggage fees. In a way, travelers are informally monetizing what we might call their unused capacity. Upon arrival, they’re usually met by the intended recipient at the airport, or occasionally will agree to meet at more central location, or even relay the package to a local courier to complete the shipment.
So, when I read about Roadie, a startup whose business model is about providing a platform to enable people to monetize their otherwise wasted capacity in the trunk of their cars, I had one of those “about time!” moments. Granted, it’s not the budget-friendly cross-border air shipping service I dream about for my occasional need to send documents overseas, but I hope it might pave the way for it.
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