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Connected World, Growing Opportunity: How Governments Can Champion IoT-Wired Supply Chains

Connected World, Growing Opportunity: How Governments Can Champion IoT-Wired Supply Chains.Transportfolio


The Internet of Things (IoT) is rewiring supply chains, and we are only at the beginning of this journey. As innovation gains speed, there are broad supply chain issues that governments need to address in order to take full advantage of the incredible opportunities that lie ahead.

This June, C.H. Robinson and the Transportation Intermediaries Association were given the opportunity to testify before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security on how the IoT impacts supply chains, logistics, and the movement of goods. The purpose of the hearing was around the DIGIT Act that creates a working group tasked with providing recommendations that focus on how to plan for, and encourage, the growth of the IoT.

Our testimony argued that the greatest challenge governments may face with regard to the development of the IoT is breaking down internal silos and working in cross-functional teams, much like many companies are doing.

Maintain a lead
To keep pace with the growth of IoT applications and innovation within the supply chain domain, government agencies should adopt a cross-organizational approach. Effective communication and coordination between customs services and other government agencies play an important role in minimizing—and, when possible, eliminating—snafus like costly customs-related delays.

An immediate goal is for governments to make sure that their customs agencies provide world class services while working well across agencies to ensure the safe and efficient movement of goods.
But they can’t stop there. This interdisciplinary ethos must be part of any government response to the growing influence of the IoT on the supply chains that support markets worldwide. More agile governments will lead the way in innovation, while rigid institutions will likely fall behind.

There’s more to it than breaking down silos. As officials consider the implications of our increasingly connected world, our testimony offers a few recommendations.

Consider the high-priority issues
Keeping up with the multitude of possibilities that technology opens up is challenging, and there are wide-ranging supply chain issues needing attention that may not be on governments’ radars. Our testimony mentions three recommended courses of action:

  • Reform archaic tax systems. Governments can encourage and support IoT leaders in the private sector by reforming outdated corporate tax codes.
  • Combat cargo theft. IoT technology can be a boon for cargo thieves using it to locate and target loads. Governments should enforce strict penalties for cargo theft and give law enforcement units the resources they need to combat cargo criminals.
  • Engage in megacity logistics. The logistics of moving goods between and within these sprawling urban centers is challenging. Governments can play a role by monitoring and prioritizing relevant issues, such as the availability of truck parking spaces in urban centers and the impact of regulation on traffic congestion and vehicle size.

Progress through partnerships
The IoT is inspiring innovation in supply chain management. Governments that are analyzing the policy and societal implications of an increasingly connected world—and the supply chains that are at the heart of successful businesses—are to be commended.

But the rate of change is accelerating, and it is imperative that governments step up their efforts to keep pace with the IoT’s onward march. Industries must support these efforts by working with policy groups to identify challenges and solutions, and to help governments to maintain a leadership position.

To read more on this topic, visit Connect for part 1 and part 2 of the series.