Overhaul’s latest service offering is a big step toward simplifying Internet of Things (IoT) deployment for supply chain visibility.
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Overhaul's "IoT Assess and Deploy"
In November 2023, Overhaul announced the launch of its IoT Assess and Deploy service offering. With this service, Overhaul allows its supply chain customers effectively to outsource the procurement, deployment, and servicing of their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Some of the activities that Overhaul will carry out with its IoT Assess and Deploy service are:
- “Independently audit and recommend devices that align with a company’s logistics strategy.”
- “Incorporate a rigorous scoring system and regular reviews for device manufacturers.”
- “Seamless sourcing, fulfillment, deployment, and recycling of old devices.”
Among the benefits that Overhaul claims for its customers, is a focus on the reduction of lost device fees—namely the cost of devices never being returned after being sent with a shipment. Overhaul cites that in one example, the service has decreased lost device fees for a customer by 17% across all of its lanes. The company also states that the IoT Assess and Deploy service allows customers to switch or upgrade to newer hardware by pre-qualifying and pre-integrating devices with their other platform services—in much the same way that consumers upgrade smartphones through their network operator contracts. Finally, the company focuses on its device-agnostic approach, working with a wide range of devices and manufacturers that fulfill different use case requirements.
First-of-its-Kind Service Offering
Overhaul’s IoT Assess and Deploy service appears to be a first-of-its-kind offering in the supply chain visibility market. Certainly, device subscription services are not new, with the approach pioneered by Roambee’s pay-as-you-go model. Additionally, hardware vendors have, for some time now, been expanding their hardware offerings with analytics platforms, as seen by Sensitech, CalAmp, and many others. However, Overhaul’s service goes beyond this in two main ways.
First, the company is approaching the service from a supply chain visibility software background. Overhaul’s business is to provide actionable insights and visibility into enterprises’ supply chains, using software tools to aggregate data from enterprise software systems, telematics devices, and any other forms of data that a company might have available. While supply chain visibility data aggregators frequently enable ingesting data directly from some IoT devices, or doing so after the data are already in a device cloud, Overhaul actively supports deploying and managing the IoT within its customers’ supply chains, taking a more proactive approach to problem-solving for the customer. This involves taking on the complexity of understanding the IoT ecosystem and sourcing devices, allowing its customers to focus purely on the desired outcome.
Second, Overhaul’s focus on device agnosticism is a step beyond what any supply chain visibility company currently offers. When offered today, device deployment, logistics, and management tend to be tied to a proprietary hardware and software offering, as with Roambee or Controlant. More and more frequently, vendors with a supply chain visibility platform are opening their software to third-party hardware, but there is a significant gap between ingesting devices from third-party hardware and pre-qualifying, pre-integrating, and managing the logistics of the devices deployed by their customers.
Overhaul’s focus on lost device fees is interesting. In the supply chain, many connected devices—whether data loggers, electronic indicators, or tracking devices—are single-use or disposable devices. Many are not necessarily intended to be single-use or disposable, but the reality of the supply chain is that trying to get handlers at different stages of the supply chain to follow complex procedures for servicing or returning devices to where they need to be is unrealistic. As a result, the pressure for IoT device manufacturers has been on lower-cost devices and making the cost of IoT adoption in the supply chain manageable. However, single-use or “disposable” tracking devices for the supply chain today still can cost up to US$40. Even if the value of the product being transported makes this price palatable, the cost of implementing the IoT for supply chain visibility is non-negligible. A service offering for deploying, managing, and recovering devices is exactly the kind of service that an enterprise would be happy to outsource: namely, a non-critical process that would be a headache for the enterprise to manage themselves, but that, nonetheless, can significantly decrease the cost of their IoT deployments.
Analytics Are Valuable to Software Suppliers, but Outsourcing IoT Is Valuable to the Customer
Overhaul’s IoT Assess and Deploy appears to be a further step toward simplifying IoT deployments and outsourcing supply chain visibility services, allowing customers to focus purely on their internal critical processes, rather than requiring additional internal teams to work this out. Beyond providing clear benefits to customers, the service also enhances the “stickiness” of the rest of Overhaul’s offering by channeling more data into its systems and making Overhaul a one-stop shop for all supply chain visibility needs.
While many companies in the supply chain visibility software market focus primarily on enhancing their data and analytics capabilities because of the revenue opportunity, it is reassuring to see an offering like IoT Assess and Deploy looking beyond the allure of software margins and instead taking in hand some of the biggest challenges of the IoT in the supply chain—namely, procurement, deployment, and performance of IoT device fleets. Of course, Overhaul is also focused on the insights it can provide through its analytics engine, which is partly what makes IoT Assess and Deploy a significant announcement, as the company bridges the gap between the vast IoT device ecosystem and the advanced analytics space.