• September 15, 2016

Links in the Chain: Analytics and Supply Chain Intelligence

Get greater visibility into the supply chain and actionable insights.

Delays. Unhappy customers. Lost revenue. When a supply chain isn’t managed properly, these are the results. But Big Data can help and take supply chain management beyond the status quo.

A company’s supply chain is its lifeline. It’s a network of people, activities, information, and resources that needs to be carefully orchestrated so that companies not only get the raw inputs they need to produce their products and services, but also then deliver those products and services to their customers.

At a time when customer expectations are higher than ever and there are a staggering number of options for sourcing, delivering, and selling products, there’s tremendous pressure to get a better handle on the supply chain. Throw the Internet of Things into the mix and the situation gets even more complicated. That’s because it’s led to an influx of huge amounts of data as more and more sensors are being used to track everything from massive shipping containers to individual products.

Finding Clarity in Complexity

The good news is that amid all of this growing complexity, there’s also opportunity. In fact, thanks to advances in Big Data, analytics, and machine learning, supply chain management is becoming a much smarter, more efficient proposition. New technologies are leveraging all of that data to give companies much greater visibility into their supply chain and to furnish them with actionable insights so that they can optimize their supply chain performance. Operations itself is being reimagined, and smart enterprises understand they need a model that aligns operations with business strategy.

For example, supply chain managers no longer have to settle for simply recognizing that they have too much or too little inventory. Savvy companies are starting to use diagnostic and predictive analytics to figure out why that’s the case. Is it a matter of inaccurate forecasting? Did sales come in below expectations? Was it poor planning? When you can tap into all of the available data and bring it together into an interconnected model, it’s possible to get to the root causes of serious issues.

Ultimately, the convergence of Big Data and analytics and supply chain management means that it’s now possible to develop a contextual understanding of what’s happening across your entire supply chain. With that broad understanding of everything from inventory to shipping routes to labor strikes and inclement weather, you can get more insight into your supply chain and ultimately do a much better job of managing risk.

And that’s critical. Effectively managing risk is the key to making sure that you have everything you need to run your business and that you’re able to deliver your products and services on time to your customers. As supply chain managers continue to tap into the power of analytics, they’ll find that they’re able to operate with far less uncertainty and far more intelligence.

Like this story? Read how analytics are revolutionizing the agriculture industry or take a self-assessment to see if you’re leveraging the full benefits of analytics.