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The (augmented) reality of Google Glass on your supply chain

Written byJacqueline Toms, Director of Marketing, Northern Europe, at hybris Google Glass - a designer gimmick or serious technological breakthrough? T...

Freddie Pierce
|Oct 4|magazine19 min read

Jacqueline Toms reshaped.jpgWritten by Jacqueline Toms, Director of Marketing, Northern Europe, at hybris

Google Glass - a designer gimmick or serious technological breakthrough? There are plenty of sceptics warning about privacy, security, social and asymmetric effects, but they overlook the incredible opportunities it offers to B2B companies.

In the supply chain market Google Glass will push the envelope of innovation by creating a layer of live data, including social media about real objects and places, from carton boxes to pallets, trucks and staff to spare parts, your warehouse, deliveries and of course your customers.  And with apps fleshing out the context for the Google Glass platform, it will be easier than ever to make crucial decisions in real-time and to collaborate with anyone in the entire supply chain. Now, you will not only know that a part is out of stock; you’ll know why, and exactly when the next batch will arrive.

How B2B organisations will benefit

Up to 80 percent of the data relating to your entire supply chain resides outside your own firewall. It’s in different formats, different systems and with different companies, making your supply chain a series of hard-to-integrate information silos, each one capable of causing delays and errors. In a world where speed matters, we need versatility so that we can run our businesses proactively instead of always reacting to problems. Google Glass will make this possible, driving your entire supply chain with a seamless flow of vital information in real time.  Whether you’re a department head, a subcontractor, a process-manager, a supplier or a customer - you will have up-to-the-minute information about urgent notifications and changes as they happen.

Versatile access to information

Picture yourself as a planner in a logistics department. You’re waiting on a truck delivery of packaging materials; you’ve been informed that it is running 40 minutes late and you know this is going to cause trouble. You have a colleague in manufacturing demanding the materials now, and a customer expecting full delivery of his order the next day. With no further information to go on, you head for an important meeting that you can’t miss.  Suddenly, as you walk through the door to the meeting room, your Google Glass beams you all the information you need - live picture from the truck of the traffic density and a newly-computed arrival time. You can now react instantly, quickly communicating this information so everyone can take necessary action and resume your place at the meeting table.  

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Business apps - the key to versatile strategy

Using Google Glass in a B2B environment without specific apps is like watching TV without a remote control.  We will soon be accessing an enterprise App-store, in the same way that we access Android and iTunes apps, but with an enormous choice of business applications - and one of the most versatile platforms for these will be Google Glass, providing an incredible opportunity for established software supply chain vendors and for new emerging software companies.

The key to success will be speed - both in rapid development of B2B apps and in adoption of Google Glass as a B2B tool. In the B2B world, adoption will be driven by easily recognisable benefits; Google Glass and its dedicated apps will create smart information which combines and enriches data before delivering it exactly where and when you need it across your entire supply chain. It may not solve all problems, but it will drive crucial information, enable easier collaboration and allow for sharper response to changes across the enterprise.

Who creates all these apps?

Whilst Google makes the ‘basic platform’, there is an opportunity for app developers. As well as  the well-known  enterprise software vendors coming up with ‘cool apps’, we also have all the niche players with expertise in specific planning or scheduling software, middleware vendors, and don’t forget the cloud service brokers who already act as intermediaries between different data sources and who already have the power to distribute services across multiple organisations. The important thing will be the ability to integrate to valuable data sources over the extended supply chain and other external data sources, like weather, traffic, or, for example, DHL so that information can combine with and enrich existing data.

And there’s the ‘DIY’ route!  B2B companies can build their own specific apps which precisely meet their unique requirements. Business people with IT knowledge are well positioned to define and commission business apps without massive IT input.  Employees can make these apps within a Governance model available in the enterprise app-store and others can reuse or configure them to their own needs. A public enterprise app-store where users can select their business app is not far away and Google Glass will accelerate the usage of enterprise apps.

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Augmented Reality

When we’re young, we have ambition but little sense of reality. Small boys dream of being air force pilots - soaring through the air at unbelievable speeds with the clearest imaginable view from the cockpit. What they don’t factor in is the need for a lot more information than they can get looking out of the window. The success of the mission relies on the speed and quality of data transmitted from command centre - vital info about hostile objects that could be within striking range in mere seconds. What they don’t yet understand is the value of teamwork and real-time communication.

Google does. And B2B app developers do too. Thanks to Google Glass, you will be able to pilot your business operation with deadly accuracy. You’ll get the information you want, when you want - and you’ll understand why you need it. You’ll be able to reduce costs, accelerate go-to-market, improve quality and improve customer loyalty.

And if you’re still not quite convinced, look around you - it’s happening already, ‘metadata’ provided in a personalised and real-time information stream. Just slip into an art gallery; look at the visitors wearing headsets. They’re not just examining the art; they’re listening to all kinds of relevant related information; they’re experiencing the artist’s world. They are able to see - even without Google Glass - the bigger picture. They’re connected.

We are living through a commercial revolution, and by embracing all that B2B e-commerce offers, we can make a fundamental shift in the supply chain process.

The changes in the B2B e-commerce market will be discussed at ‘Game Plan’, an event being organised by hybris on October 28th and 29th. For more information, visit http://gameplan-b2b-forum.com/berlin/