We are well and truly experiencing exponential technological developments that make our lives easier. Today, anything that is run by a computer and offers efficiencies in some form or another can be labelled with the tag as being ‘smart’.
But how can we make our warehouses smarter? And what does that mean? There are so many technologies and solutions out there all promising the same irrevocably life-changing things, it can be hard to weed through the marketing spiel to get through to accurate information and facts.
In this post, we look at the latest technologies in business intelligence and how it can boost your supply chain management by helping you makes better decisions.
Why is business intelligence an important factor for warehouse management?
Supply chain management, materials handling and warehouse management are all time sensitive operations. A backlog in one area can cause delays from picking and packing, right to customer delivery. Are you confident that your business intelligence systems notify you of problems as they arise? Or are you only informed of issues after they have already impacted your operation?
If you answered yes to the latter, an in-built, intuitive business solution may be the answer for you. But what does that mean?
Technology solutions such as a software platform that can make sense of raw data and feed that information to other vital areas are now integral to many businesses. It often involves a set of different activities to glean valuable insights, including data mining, analytical processing and reporting. If required, BI systems can be custom created to suit the needs of your business, and there are also opportunities for you to create API's that enable your BI system to speak with other aspects of your business.
From here, your BI system can offer insights into the most important areas that need improving or ways to improve efficiencies.
What are the benefits of business intelligence?
If you’re new to the BI landscape, in a general sense, it can offer businesses of any shape and form immediate benefits.
Firstly, BI systems can reduce labour costs by reducing manual tasks, including: automating data collection, automating report generation, providing report design tools and reducing the amount of training needed.
The efficiencies created here also filter through to other areas of the business. For example, BI systems can also reduce information bottlenecks by reducing the waiting time for IT teams to manually generate reports. They can also provide the ability to render individualised, role-based dashboards including important information on KPIs and daily operations.
The objective nature of the information also makes it possible for you to make better decisions, faster, while also aligning your business more closely with your goals and objectives.
So it’s clear, BI systems have numerous benefits. But what about the supply chain and warehouse management specifically makes BI so well suited to them? Let’s take a look.
Benefits to supply chain management
The drive of eCommerce has plummeted many businesses into a web of complex global operations. Lacking proper visibility of your supply chain increases exposure to risks that could otherwise be prevented.
BI will enable your business to convert a sea of raw data into useful business information and below we briefly outline the main benefits.
Improved forecasting accuracy
BI systems use algorithms that can predict accurate forecasts by applying historical data. This has untold benefits to inventory and sales as the software can predict peak times and forecast accordingly.
When applied well, and as technology improves, we’ll begin to see more algorithms for predictive shipping such as the patented anticipatory shipping algorithm created by Amazon. Wouldn't it be great to offer your customers a product when they need it without them having to request it?!
Real-time information for better decision-making
Working in a fast-paced environment, such as a warehouse, requires quick access to real-time information (often on the fly) to make ad hoc decisions. BI systems provide real-time information and can export accurate reports to your team so that you can deal with issues as they arise or even prevent a disaster from occurring.
BI enables you to really drill down into the finer details allowing you to analyse loads, routes, carriers, bookings, slotting, wait times, freight audit, and more, all in real-time.
BI systems can be custom built to sit across or on top of multiple systems within your business. Integrating BI within your transportation and logistics operation can improve profitability with in-depth analysis of the service and network portfolio across customers, suppliers and every step in your supply chain. This provides you with a whole-of-business outlook simply by integrating a BI system into your logistics operations.