The Connected World

In today’s connected world, it’s not hard to imagine that one day every vehicle, home appliance, heating system and light switch will be connected to the internet. Smart objects, like wearable technology, are already making their way into everyday life through the internet of things (IoT), and often without us realizing it.

It’s estimated that the average person now uses three smart devices on a daily basis, with Cisco predicting that by 2020 more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. These devices combine to create the IoT, enabling everyday objects to communicate with each other as well as ourselves. But these 50 billion objects represent just 3% of all connectable gadgets so it’s clear that we’re only just scratching the surface of what’s possible.

In the home, we’re already seeing connected thermostats, alarm systems, doorbells and refrigerators, while technology is being used to better manage energy, water, safety and transportation to create integrated, sustainable cities. What’s really exciting is the growth in IoT-led innovation in manufacturing and the supply chain, and how this is set to transform industry as we know it.

Logistics at its simplest is the movement of goods from A to B, where there’s huge potential for the IoT to play a defining role in the supply chain. Technologies based on the IoT are making warehouses smarter, safer and more environmentally sustainable, while sensors embedded into objects mean shipments and items can be effectively tracked in real time. The IoT is also helping businesses better understand how consumers are using their products, allowing them to adapt their logistics accordingly.

In the automotive sector, for example, IoT is influencing how carmakers design and manufacture their vehicles. The connected car of the future will be self-diagnosing, intelligently predicting its own maintenance needs, transmitting data about faults and ordering the required parts direct. Manufacturers in turn will be able to forecast more accurately, thanks to early visibility of where and when parts will be required. At the same time, advanced driver-assistance systems and even self-driving vehicles are redefining how we use our cars and whether we’ll continue to own them or simply hire them when required.

At DHL, our focus is on understanding and introducing the potential of IoT technology. Earlier this year, together with Cisco and start-up Conduce, we began testing IoT handling equipment in our warehouses, allowing us to monitor activities using real-time data. Rather than rely on

historic data, which is analysed retrospectively, we can now act with far greater agility, and in some cases implement changes before the issue arises.

IoT technology is more accessible than ever before, and there are many exciting examples of how business leaders can apply it to their processes. However, the real business value doesn’t simply lie in connecting objects together; it comes from the immense amount of data that we can access through connected objects, and the insights this provides for driving business growth and transformation.

Rapid changes to the IoT make it hard to anticipate the future of the technology; both at home and at work we’re all making use of technology in ways we could have only dreamed off ten years ago. What is clear is the possibilities are far-reaching and will revolutionize both our daily lives and the way we do business - and this is just the start!


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