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The Data Explosion

Written By: Ann Grackin
Published On: October 20 2004

Introduction

Traffic on the World Wide Web continues to grow. Traffic on your SmallSmartFast devices continues to grow.

Ok, I admit it. I bought the cell phone that takes pictures. I didn't know if it was useful; but being a technophile, I went for it. And rapidly it all came to me! I tried on a new cool jacket ... I crooned over it ... but for that much money, I wasn't sure. Should I really buy this? Enter the pic in my cell phone! We chicks have our honor guard. You know those close friends who will tell you the truth—eyes roll- what did you do to your hair- friend. So I took my picture and sent it. Hey take a look at me in this—what do you think? Real time feedback! And that got me to thinking about my business. Do you like this location, equipment, etc.? Attach you message, the pictures, pricing, etc. ... we are on our way.

The network is alive with the sound of convergence ... not a new song, but it got us thinking about the explosion of traffic on these various platforms across GPS and the Internet.

These patterns we are quite familiar with—but wireless seems to be spinning out around the world.

A modest estimate of traffic in voice, video, and data—wired or wireless—will increase ten times over the next five years. And why? Both business and personal use of these platforms is exploding, driven by cell phones and other personal devices, business use of GPS, the Internet, and of course RFID. RFID transactions will grow in number and dimension.

  • Number of transactions
  • Depth of detail—items on up
  • Type of transactions
  • Size of transactions

It's hard to separate these out; they kind of go together. But we'll explore a few thoughts around this data explosion.

Number of Transactions

Global trade is increasing the number of shipments by 7 to 8 percent each year. Embedded within this process is also the need to trace, track, and secure these shipments. Hybrid devices are already in use and their deployment is growing. Containers in Hong Kong, Oakland bound, are bonded with active RFID and GPS devices that secure and track the shipment all the way to the customer. Smart Secure Trade Lanes has over one hundred global participants with all the major ports participating. This initiative is enabled by Savi's global RFID-enabled network, which can read both passive and active data and is already deployed around the world.

Size and Number—Items on Up—Nesting

From item to containers for a lifetime, the first waves of RFID are delivering with shipment level data, mostly cartons, containers, and pallets. But retailers already put devices on most high-end goods. Today, of course, these devices have a short life—from unpacking and stocking the shelf to the cash register and no real recoding transaction is done. But once RFID tags become part of the floor-ready merchandize process, or more brand firms embed them in their products, the number of collection points goes up exponentially. Firms like GenuOne already have a leadership position in the brand protection (Genuine-get it?) and these unobtrusive little devices ship at an item level, from the manufacturer. Their serial number and lot is collected, tracked, and validated upon receiving by the merchant. The point is, naysayers who think item level is far off are, well, uninformed.

Size and More Transactions!

The DoD is moving toward standardizing product serial numbers and ultimately expects these on not only the items, but also the tags. And this is only the beginning. Many products have lifetime histories to trace (pedigrees already in practice in many industries like aerospace and defense, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals). It is debatable where all the histories will be stored—on the network or on the device—, but the ability for device level services (code or functions) to communicate with the application is clear, sending data back and forth to validate, instruct the operator, etc. All those little applets zinging data back and forth between items, devices, and the mother ship! Tags can and will carry significantly more data—and will have significantly more power to do more stuff.

And That Means Really Smart Devices

SmallerSmarterFaster devices that can do hybrid work—like Intermec's barcode and RFID enabled devices—are already in use in firms like Bayer, and applications that sit on these devices are vertical specific, driving intelligence in the hand. These devices are converged already—RFID enabled—and support personal wireless, aka Bluetooth, as well as LAN and WAN, the people, the devices, the IT systems across the enterprise, and the Internet. Think small and really smart devices running complex queries and data management—not just dumb readers!

Where Are We?

Exodus. We are striking out for the core inventions and concepts into a creative land where everyone is in the act. With all these opportunities, we will get more tags and applications to use these tags. More demand will drive the creation of new processes and technologies to scale the manufacturing processes. Matrics just announced their new parallel integrated chip assembly (PICA), a methodology which significantly increases chip assembly production, about ten fold. Think of one machine producing in the range of (depending on the product being produced) 20,000 to 100,000 chips per hour versus the old method of maximum 1,000 to 8,000 chips per hour.

Of course, this is the beginning of chip technologies, which will radically change. With manufacturing processes driving up capacity, as well as producing a more powerful chip, prices will come down. Nanotechnologies get introduced about three to four years from now, which will be truly powerful and cheaper! Moore's Law still applies here with the price/performance ratios careening ever higher!

So, where are we? On CNN, ABC, and MSNBC. If you think of previous technology shifts, Prime Time came way later. ERP, as a term, was mentioned for the first time on Prime Time about ten years ago. Here, the impact transcends most walks of life! So across many markets—consumer, manufacturing, defense, etc.—there are new adopters of the technology; and thinking of new ways to get access to the data. Right now we have the IP backbone to support this early stage, but with these increases—and what we have talked about here is just a sliver of supply chain—it is bound to require a readdressing of the wireless infrastructure. Who knows, Cisco could be a hot stock again!


This article is from Parallax View, ChainLink Research's on-line magazine, read by over 150,000 supply chain and IT professionals each month. Thought-provoking and actionable articles from ChainLink's analysts, top industry executives, researchers, and fellow practitioners. To view the entire magazine, click here.

About the Author

For more than two decades, Ann Grackin, Chief Executive Officer, has been on the frontlines of the Supply Chain Management technology and e-commerce frontier, leading global strategy and technology implementations in the high technology, semiconductor, automotive, textile, and apparel industries.

ChainLink Research is a bold new supply chain research organization dedicated to helping executives improve business performance and competitiveness.

 
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