I recently attended the CEWIT2017 Conference at the Center for Wireless and Information Technology’s facility at beautiful Stony Brook University in New York. This is one of the premier conferences in the development and application of emerging technologies, and it does an excellent job of bringing together academic research and industrial innovation in one forum. JDA was one of many sponsors, and our CEO Girish Rishi has the pleasure of sitting on CEWIT’s Advisory Board.

While this conference was not focused on supply chain, hearing the impact of digital on human learning, health technologies, smart cities, manufacturing, cybersecurity, video capture and more reinforced the importance of JDA’s work on our Digital Edge innovations. Learning more about efforts to digitalize manufacturing enterprises and their supply chains showed that while there’s a lot of interest and activity, there is also a long way to go before this type of technology and data utilization becomes commonplace. With benefits ranging from up-to-date inventory monitoring, better production management, visibility into production material needs, reduced operating costs and prescriptive maintenance analytics, there is tremendous value to be gained from digitalizing your supply chain.

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is reliant on digital manufacturing and the ability to harness potential data from the myriad of sources available, from embedded sensors to insights gained from social media platforms. Increasingly, across the supply chain, data is being seen as the currency by which forecasts are built, orders are produced and products are delivered. Fortunately, as many presenters covered, the advances in Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are making it easier to gather, organize and analyze data – and have it delivered through the cloud. One point that was made during the presentations was that as smart cities expand, logistic providers should leverage these data points to meet consumer demand for same-day delivery. Beyond that, there was discussion on how using autonomous trucks and drones can enable more efficient and targeted delivery options, perhaps using mobile technology to bring the package to the person instead of to their home.

I’ve only touched on a few of the topics covered at CEWIT; other areas of interest included the impact from informatics, machine learning, 5g wireless, cybersecurity and wireless power harvesting. One term that stood out to me was the “digital thread,” where all aspects of digital manufacturing are connected across the product lifecycle and that data is used to drive effectiveness and efficiencies. While digital manufacturing was the reference point, this conference showed the pervasiveness of the digital thread and how it will increasingly connect all aspects of our lives, both personally and professionally. In fact, connecting people across all facets of their lives through digital interaction is not limited to the future – it is happening now. Whether it’s an autonomous ride service finding you through mobile-enabled geo-location, the ability to predict construction-related traffic conditions and their impact on logistics, or driving cost savings with smart buildings, we are seeing digitally driven and intertwined customer-focused solutions everywhere. JDA looks to enable those connections by supporting digital business transformation through effective data usage and analytics to make smarter decisions and enable consumer delivery excellence.