Roadmap 2.0’s technology section author Dr. Bill Ferrell, Fluor International Supply Chain Professor of Industrial Engineering and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Clemson University (and also one of the authors of the original Roadmap) considered technology trends from a variety of angles as he was developing the chapter’s content.
“Recently it seems like folks speculating about technology trends are only considering it in the context of how fast it’s going to take over jobs,” he chuckled. “So when I wrote this section, I tried to provide insights into technology trends that might be opportunities for companies to grow and evolve. I encourage Roadmap 2.0 readers to think about those possibilities in terms of the way technology has impacted business in the past, like how technology has created new markets. Who would have guessed in 2007—before the first iPhone—that none of us could function without one a decade later?”
When considering the original Roadmap’s list of disruptive technologies and the input of the 200-plus roundtable contributors, Ferrell believes Cloud computing for data storage and analytics that drive the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 is trending toward making the largest impact on supply chain, material handling and logistics.
“Not just storage of information in the Cloud,” he explained, “but the ability to access scalable computing resources to process and analyze millions of variable data inputs moving into it from the billions of sensors connected to the Internet at higher speeds. Those capabilities facilitate using huge, centralized models for controlling material flow, and business in general, today and in the future.”
With Cloud-powered scalable data storage infrastructure, faster Internet speeds, and boosted computational power tackling myriad solutions to multiple problems, Ferrell feels that companies will continue to move towards centralized decision-making.
“Prior to the increased availability and power of the Cloud, companies with multiple locations often moved to decentralized control to run their business and make decisions in a timely manner, but it’s not as optimal as centralized decision-making,” he said. “Today the Cloud, sensors, Internet speed and advanced data analytics are at the point where companies can begin to achieve that state.”
Additionally, Ferrell feels that the advances in Cloud computing, software and algorithms that crunch the data supplied by sensors are fueling the growing power of artificial intelligence.
“It’s more than just self-driving cars; today’s artificial intelligence systems are listening to inputs, adapting to their surroundings, and starting to simulate the way humans make decisions. With Cloud computing and artificial intelligence in place, a company is capable of conducting computational modeling and making subsequent decisions relayed via the Internet to direct automated devices to take action—all without human intervention,” he says. “That’s both exciting and terrifying, isn’t it?”
Finally, Ferrell advises companies to address their fears about sharing and storing data in the Cloud, and the potential cyber security risks associated with that technology, sooner than later.
“Obviously, companies are going to have to figure out how much risk they can assume and put in protective measures to mitigate those concerns. But with these technologies, they will be able to simultaneously move millions of packages along thousands of different modes of transportation, know where everything is, and optimize deployment,” he concludes. “And I think it will happen long before 2030.”
Want to learn more about technology trends and the impact they will have on your business between now and 2030? The technology section of Roadmap 2.0 starts on page 12. Download the free report here.