The world’s about to get a whole lot more related with the influx of the Internet of Things (IoT). As discussed beforehand, the IoT is a network of physical objects that are embedded with software, sensors, and other network-connected technology that enables these “things” to collect and communicate data. 

You might’ve actually interacted with an IoT-enabled device already. Here are a few examples:

  •          Phone apps that allow you to print photos via Social Media
  •          Smartphone-based check-ins at hotel rooms
  •          Microchips in pets, in case they ever run away or get lost
  •          Wi-Fi and internet-enabled vehicles   

In other words: it’s kind of a big deal. Basically everything can be connected to the internet.

With the use of the Internet of Things steadily escalating, the world is slowly becoming more and more connected, with different, newer, and larger quantities of data being collected than ever before. So, how does this affect the world of ERP,CRM, and manufacturing? Well, quite drastically.

Impacts on ERP, CRM, and Manufacturing

While a majority of ERP systems are in the process of adapting to new technologies such as mobility, wearable tech, and the cloud, the Internet of Things is expected to be the next big movement in technology. IoT brings a lot of potential to ERP, CRM, and the industry of manufacturing, specifically:

  •          Re-orders, replenishment, Kanbans, through the use of internet-connected sensors and devices, could be immediately communicated to a business’s ERP, without the need for human intervention (besides the occasional moderation of processes).
  •          Lean manufacturing would get a little bit leaner by cutting out a lot of the need for human interaction with machinery and data. IoT allows for manufacturers to receive warnings and notifications when products need attention or repairing; however, businesses will need to be able to successfully adapt their processes to this new model, as well as respond accordingly.
  •          Understanding customer behavior within your business’s CRM may get a little more sophisticated. By being able to communicate directly with products, manufacturers are better able to assess how and when products are being utilized, as well as if and when they malfunction.
  •          The IoT brings a ton of new data to the table, and that data will need to be collected, processed, analyzed, and utilized in an efficient way by ERP software. As such, ERP systems will need to have a lot of power to be able to handle the influx of new information coming in from various devices and products. For manufacturing companies that are intrigued by the prospect of IoT, they’ll need to do a lot of preparatory work and consider many factors, including the size of their current ERP and CRM, how these software tools will connect with IoT, if everyone in the company is on board with IoT, how it will affect current manufacturing and sales/customer service processes, and more.
  •          As mentioned above, flexibility within the workplace is an absolute must when bringing IoT into the mix. The Internet of Things is still relatively new, so there’s bound to be a learning curve, no matter how prepared a business may be; regardless, it’s important when implementing any new software or technology to be able to adapt as efficiently as possible and create a plan of action for the whole company to follow. Rushing into something as major as IoT could prove to be devastating for any size manufacturer.   

Potential IoT Challenges

The Internet of Things brings a lot of great latent for ERP, CRM, and the manufacturing industry; however, it also brings many challenges. Below are a few potential problems that the IoT may bring:

  •          Data security will likely be the biggest pressure point when it comes to the IoT. While IoT welcomes more data to the use of manufacturer, it also opens the door for more data to be breached, specifically with mobile devices or wearable tech. As a newer technology solution, IoT users will need to be able to find a way to secure large amounts of data from sources such as mobile
  •          The cost of adding IoT will probably be a major initial investment, something that many small to mid-size manufacturers just won’t be able to do.
  •          Analysis of data from IoT is still relatively weak, meaning that manufacturers still have to manually parse through large amounts of information. 

While there’s a lot at stake with the Internet of Things, it’s clear that it’s not going away anytime soon. New advancements in technology are common in the manufacturing industry, and you can expect software companies to begin considering how to tap into the potential of IoT and begin crafting new ways of processing and understanding technology and communication from all kinds of sources.