The idea that smartphones have irrevocably changed the world is hard to dispute. After all, you only need to watch local foot traffic for a few minutes to see at least one person walking around engrossed in their screen. A more relevant question for those in the supply chain industry is whether such changes are truly beneficial.
Let's not kid ourselves - Smartphones are essential to the way modern companies do business. It's important, however, not to get so wrapped up in the power of technology that we lose sight of its business implications.
The Pros and Cons of Smartphones in the Supply Chain Industry
Smartphones democratize access to information, so it makes sense that they're integral players in warehousing, shipping, and other logistics affairs. For instance, if your delivery dispatch software connects to your drivers' smartphones, then they can fulfill orders more fluidly without having to report back to a live person or check with you for instructions.
The Potential Perils of Smart Devices
Can continuous access also have less-than-ideal impacts? The concept might not be so far-fetched, and it has been proven by the American Psychological Association that constant smartphone usage contributes to anxiety and other stress factors. It's easy to imagine how adding smartphones to the mix could make life even more hectic for delivery drivers or distract them inappropriately.
The Benefits of Device-powered Task Management
On the other hand, using smartphones wisely might make common workflows more manageable. By enhancing the information available to their fulfillment workers, logistics and e-commerce enterprises stand to stay on task and cultivate better habits.
Imagine that you were a delivery driver who served a regular route. In the old days, you might have been required to deal with seemingly random daily load outs and routing practices that forced you to contend with traffic and fuel waste. Thanks to smartphone-capable dispatch software, you can now plan trips out in advance to avoid pitfalls and get more done with less work. Although the potential for burnout always exists in a fast-paced environment, giving employees more useful productivity tools lets them tackle workloads without quite as much uncertainty.
Improving How We Use Data
One of the most poignant benefits of smartphones is that they can help reduce loss. For instance, in May 2019, cargo handling companies demonstrated the ability to track perishable consignment temperatures in real time using near-field communications, or NFC, sensors as goods traveled from Mexico to Kuwait. As this form of loss-prevention monitoring becomes the standard, the entire supply chain industry will feel the impetus to use feedback more efficiently or lose market share.
Such initiatives are clearly within the realm of possibility, but smartphones make them practical. Although the IoT technologies needed for tasks like keeping close tabs on global shipments are still in their infancy, the tools that help humans interface with data in readily accessible formats are already everywhere. Whether you let your employees bring their own smart hardware or provide official company devices for interacting with your dispatch routing software, you'll thrive more if you keep everyone connected.