CeMAT Insider

Secret success to managing supply chain data? Think big, start small

Posted by CeMAT Team on 19-Feb-2016 09:49:41


Mining big data to enhance the efficiency of your supply chain may be seen to be a daunting and scary task. Gleaning the right insights from the mass of information your business is collecting can be challenging, but you’re not alone. According to Gartner, 56% of businesses say determining how to get value from big data is a major challenge, and 41% struggle to determine what strategies will lead their big data endeavours. This post will outline the best strategies for managing supply chain data for improved supply chain management. 


What’s new in big data and where to start?

Put simply, big data refers to the practice of collecting electronic information from numerous sources, analysing it, and from there, identifying patterns and trends that can improve business processes. Sounds easy right?

The idea that companies can harness insights from vast pools of data is not new, however, the latest developments in big data have come from innovations in technology that allow the capability of extracting meaning from that data. This is the not-so-easy-part. 

New technologies in the big data space have enabled businesses to conduct big data analysis within an ERP system while is runs transactions. Meaning, locating materials or inventory is possible, while also updating the database at the same time.

Big data developers also offer visualization tools that pour the results of data analyses into reports and on-screen dashboards for easier interpretation.

A great place to start would be to analyse transactional transportation management data. Understanding the insights you get from this data can help you drive down shipping costs and reduce delivery times. Achieving this will make it possible for you to pool efforts into areas that make the most impact on your business.

To harness the opportunities of big data, start off by identifying key business challenges. Do you want to optimise operational efficiency by improving the routing of vehicles? Would you like to provide a better customer experience by offering better delivery times? You’ll find that addressing these two challenges would have the added benefit of both reducing costs while also increasing customer satisfaction.

Another great way to ensure this is possible is to set-up end-to-end integration of your IT systems and supply chain.


End to end integration

Digital integration and logistics automation will enable your business to run on tighter schedules and with lower inventory levels. A great example of doing this successfully comes from the online giant Amazon, who recently filed a patent for technology to support “anticipatory shipping.” This innovative technique would make it possible to adjust inventory to anticipate customer demand in specific locations, based on factors such as previous purchases, which products customers searched for online, and how long they spent looking at specific items.

Not all businesses have the capability to run anticipatory shipping, but automation software provides a great alternative. Automation solutions make it possible for you to map out material handling, while also offering a level of flexibility due to insights gained from big data. Real-time route optimisation, crowd-based pickup and delivery, strategic network planning, and operational capacity planning are just a few of the benefits you can get from end-to-end integration with big data.

Oracle outlines in the table below the challenges and opportunities for implementing new analytic capabilities to your supply chain management.


Final thoughts

Amazon isn’t only well known for the wide array of products it offers in one place, it remembers what you bought, when you bought it, is able to make relevant recommendations based on consumer behaviour and then offers same-day delivery depending on what area you’re in.

Although not all businesses would have the capability of implementing anticipatory shipping, a system that outsources your shopping list to an algorithm so you don’t run out of basis like toilet paper, there is much to learn about their customer satisfaction strategy.

So think big and work on your overall strategy for improving customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. But start small, big data can offer great insights but proper analysis can’t happen if you don’t have an integrated supply chain that interconnects seamlessly with business intelligence systems.


Would you like to find out more about big data and logistics? Register for the CeMAT Australia exhibition for free and you'll gain access to the showfloor theatres - practical presenations that will provide the latest on optimising intralogistics. 

Topics: Supply Chain Management, Logistics