28 April, 2010

iPhone and iPad as tools for sustainability

Sergio Abranches

Connectivity as a driver of change and a tool to promote sustainability.I spent the last two days on a conference about innovative logistics: Future.log, International Forum for Innovation in Logistics. I did the keynote speech for the first session on “Sustainability in the Supply Chain”. The second session was about “Demand-led Supply Chain Management”. My keynote was about 21st Century megatrends, and sustainability as a resulting imperative for business, societies, and governments. But I would like to share what I’ve learned, rather than what I’ve talked about.

One of the most interesting trends that emerged from the presentations on demand-led supply chain management was the importance of mobile shopping and mobile data sourcing as main factors of change in both contemporary and future logistics. And it was really striking to see that the iPhone was on every sentence about mobile resources. David Sanders, VP for Sales and Strategic Markets – Americas, of Sterling Commerce AT&T, said that the iPhone is becoming a major resource for obtaining data from demand patterns through consumers’ online shopping choices. And it begins to be more widely used to get managerial information down the supply chain. Steve Steuterman, research director at AMR Research, has also emphasized the use of iPhone as a critical trend that is deeply changing supply chain management. Sanders is even more thrilled with the possibilities of iPad: “the size of the screen allows a greater amount of real time online data to be displayed at the same time.”

What impressed me was the potential that connectivity through iPhone and iPad have as a tool to promote sustainable consumption and greening the supply chain. Data sourcing and feedback systems could be used to monitor the supply chain, improve traceability, control carbon emissions. Consumers can get comparative data on the carbon intensity of goods from different supply chains, and make their decisions, online, based on the results.

I argued that we are already surfing a tsunami of change that will eventually wipe out most of the professional, economic and business paradigms in use today. It will clear the way for the establishment of whole new paradigms. Change will, at the end, be more thorough and revolutionary than the transformation that led from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment marked a long wave of knowledge-creating change through differentiation, segmentation, and specialization of branches of the same trees. The great transformation we are starting to witness is marked by the convergence of different sciences, technologies, media. This convergence is making information and communication technologies ever more ubiquitous as enablers of change and tools for novel processes and practices.

Tags: conectivity, iPad, iPod, logistics, supplychain,