With an increasing number of people and objects now having the potential to be connected to the Internet at all times, many companies are finding that they must drastically rethink their fulfillment and distribution operations. They're also coming to recognize that if they are to survive and succeed in the future, they will have to make those changes quickly.
To help companies make this evolutionary jump (and do so quickly enough), two professors at Arizona State University have created a research lab that focuses on how the Internet and physical Internet (also known as the Internet of Things) is reshaping supply chain management.
Professors Elliot Rabinovich and Dale S. Rogers say they formed the Internet-Edge Supply Chain Lab (internetedgelab.com) "to create industry-inspired research that advances understanding of innovations, challenges, and new possibilities involving supply chain management at the boundary shared by the Internet and the physical world."
The lab aims to develop collaborative programs involving companies, faculty, and students that will research these new Internet-fueled challenges with practical applications. The lab is particularly focused on three cornerstones: 1) Internet commerce, including last-mile delivery and omnichannel retailing strategies; 2) the mobile Internet and the "sharing economy," which is based on renting fragments of assets such as rides or space (the "Uber model"); and 3) the Internet of Things technology.
For example, Rabinovich and Rogers are keenly interested in how smart devices are allowing more logistics and supply chain decisions to be made on the front lines of the organization, as opposed to back at corporate offices. This raises the question, they say, of what types of information and data need to reside in a central repository, and what could—and perhaps should—live on this "Internet edge."
This is just one example of the types of questions that the lab hopes to answer. Rogers and Rabinovich anticipate disseminating the results of their work, which will be partly funded by industry sponsors, through research workshops, annual sponsor conferences, seminars, site visits, white papers, and journal articles.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH!
Is your academic organization conducting cutting-edge supply chain research? If so, consider sending us a brief (350-400 words) summary of your project's objectives and findings to date. Be sure to also include the names of the principal faculty and students involved—in fact, we encourage graduate students to write and submit the summaries. We'll feature one submission in our monthly Supply Chain Executive Insight e-newsletter and will post other submissions in a blog we'll be launching later this year. (Please note that in the interest of fairness, we may limit the number of articles from any one academic institution during a particular period.) Please send submissions and any questions to Senior Editor Susan Lacefield.