The continued development of IoT will change the WMS industry.

The Internet of Things continues to catalyze transformation across multiple sectors. Enterprises worldwide are expected to bring more than 3 billion connected devices online this year, according to research from Gartner. Organizations with vast shipping and fulfillment operations are among the most invested in the technology, as it facilitates automated processes that save considerable time and money. In fact, the global market for IoT warehouse technology could climb to over $19 billion within the next seven years, according to analysts for Report Linker.

This sea change is likely to influence existing digital tools used in modern supply chain operations, most notably, warehouse management software. These solutions continue to evolve at a breakneck pace, as enterprises of all sizes ask technology providers to aid them in meeting the many new challenges that come along with today's marketplace. The WMS arena is expected to grow roughly 15 percent to 3.2 million by 2022, according to data from Allied Market Research. However, the development of warehouse-centered IoT technology is poised to push these platforms further in the future, as developers account for the myriad of new possibilities that come along with connected industrial fixtures. How might this progression play out?

More processing power
Target provided a glimpse into the future of warehouse operations last year when it debuted a fully autonomous facility in Wilmington, Massachusetts, The Wall Street Journal reported. The location features the latest IoT technology. Automated robots speed down the aisles of an enclosed pick module, snatching products as they roll, all while robotic arms expertly stack and wrap pallets ready for shipment. This workflow is likely to become the industry standard in the years to come.

WMS makers and implementation firms will most certainly have to account for this shift and tack on extra features to facilitate this influx of connected devices. Cloud-based infrastructure is essential here, as data channels multiply exponentially. However, adoption is slow among warehouse managers, according to data from Gartner published in Supply Chain 24/7. Cloud-based solutions account for a mere 8 percent of all WMS sales, meaning many technology firms continue to lean on software that utilizes physical severs. As IoT technology moves forward, this is likely to change. Soon, these companies will be forced to roll out more advanced cloud-based platforms to meet the processing demands that come along with extensive IoT use.

Less human-generated data
WMS software has, traditionally, been geared toward the end user, as these individuals are responsible for stocking systems with information. However, in IoT-centered workflows, automated devices are responsible for generating platform data. Of course, many in the shipping and fulfillment space are aware of this developing state of affairs. The arrival of big data has already prompted change in this area but increased IoT usage could usher in a more pronounced movement toward fully automated backend systems.

Consequently, WMS makers may take the emphasis off access portals and focus instead on building air-tight integration modules and data-mining components.

Increased emphasis on data security
While IoT devices possess immense potential, they do require extra attention from a data security standpoint. More web-enabled fixtures mean more points of entry for hackers. Last year, these nefarious coders carried out more than 42,000 attacks and successfully executed over 1,900 large-scale data breaches, according to research from Verizon Wireless. Sadly, these figures will only grow as new digital vectors materialize and older iterations receive upgrades.

Businesses with warehouse operations can expect WMS providers to meet this challenge, working with clients to install robust digital defenses and encourage data security best practices among employees. Cloud WMS adoption alone can lead to improvements in this area, according to research from the professional services firm Clutch. An estimated 64 percent of IT professionals believe the cloud is more secure than on-premises servers.

As IoT gains momentum within the logistics industry, companies will start to see the above changes take shape, as technology companies future-proof their WMS solutions for the era of the smart warehouse. Here at F&A Data Systems, we've already begun preparing for fully automated workflows. We work with industry leaders like Dell, Microsoft and Oracle to develop WMS solutions that are tailored to the warehouse of today and beyond. Connect with us for more information about our product line.