A huge increase in the number of devices making up the Internet of Things (IoT) will have a significant impact on how the supply chain will operate, according to a report by analyst firm Gartner.

Factors such as access to information about the supply chain and exposure to cyber-risk will become increasingly pertinent.

Gartner's report suggests that IoT connected devices will reach 26 billion by 2020, up from 0.9 billion in 2009. Gartner has already warned of a number of subsequent challenges that will be faced by data centres as a result.

Despite the huge rise in numbers of connected devices, Michael Burkett, Gartner's managing vice president, has argued that it's important to important to keep IoT maturity in perspective.

"Some IoT devices are more mature, such as commercial telematics now used in trucking fleets to improve logistics efficiency," said Burkett. "Some, such as smart fabrics that use sensors within clothing and industrial fabrics to monitor human health or manufacturing processes, are just emerging."

Differentiated services

Gartner predicts that the rise of the IoT will allow supply chains to provide, "more differentiated services to customers more efficiently."

This will be made possible as a result of a highly interconnected network of devices communicating with each other. In particular, marketers and product designers are expected to see changes in their supply chain roles.

Digital marketing will benefit from increased customer data and the ability to segment audiences to a greater extent. Designers, meanwhile, will be required to find ways to embed technology into products that will enable them to communicate with other devices.