While many logistics firms have been using warehouse management systems of some kind for years now, the rapid proliferation of smart devices and other types of connected gadgets gives businesses even more options to empower workers and improve efficiency. With this in mind, it's vital for executives to examine their options when it comes to these offerings and see which will be able to help their companies get ahead in both the short and long terms.

More specifically, it's crucial that any decisions related to new technology look at how those options will mesh with existing (or potentially future) WMS platforms and with each other, according to the World Economic Forum. The convergence of technology is important here because it's only possible to get as much efficiency out of these investments as the data will allow. If the information reaped from multiple sources doesn't work well together within a WMS program, that will restrain improvement.

A quick example
When it comes to the types of technologies warehouses in particular are likely to adopt, there are plenty of ways for them to mesh. For instance, devices that connect to the internet of things are most effective when connected with advanced robotics and other types of efficiency-increasing tools becoming more common in warehouses of all sizes, all around the world.

When it comes to increasing the speed and accuracy of distribution efforts, though, it might be important for companies to examine how any adoption efforts will improve their abilities to pick, package, and deliver orders in as timely a fashion as possible, according to Practical Ecommerce. That's especially true because consumers increasingly expect rapid turnarounds, usually within just a few days. The ability of any distribution company to meet those expectations is now paramount to improving business operations as a whole. To that end, the benefits of even minor, incremental improvements in that process can add up quickly and provide significant returns on investment over time.

What comes next?
The WMS evolution seen over the past several years has shifted the logistics industry as a whole into the 21st century, and become a true economic driver for the U.S., but more must be done to harness the power next-gen technology provides, according to Oracle's Diego Pantoja-Navajas, speaking to Supply Chain Management Review. For instance, the cloud is likely to be the next frontier in WMS, and that will probably allow businesses to work smarter rather than harder if they adopt modern WMS.

"More and more often, businesses attempt to meet the challenge of digital fulfillment by throwing bodies at it or by further customizing their on-premises legacy systems," Pantoja-Navajas told the site. "These business choices prove themselves inefficient and expensive. Companies running legacy warehouse management systems will struggle to serve the needs of 5 billion mobile-connected consumers without a connected solution of their own."

With all this in mind, the ability of a logistics firm to discern exactly what their needs are and how best to address them is what's most likely to keep them ahead of the curve on an ongoing basis. Examining how to onboard the latest tech will inform the best possible choices about where investments should be made, and how to incorporate those new technologies into existing operations.