Data, the name of the game in the supply chain


When external factors, such as weather events or global epidemics threaten to affect commodity flows, data becomes a tool that not only provides certainty in decision making, but also helps keep strategy on track, optimize operations, devise new products and services, and ensure customer satisfaction. 

A supply chain management technology-enabled solution that provides near real-time data on logistics and operations can allow companies and brands to make timely decisions. Data helps companies maneuver to avoid inventory shortages and bottlenecks; meet compliance directives and track products during delivery; as well as to detect and correct inefficiencies, thereby reducing costs.

Today, supply chain visibility technologies bring the ability to track individual components, processed goods, and end products as they travel from supplier to manufacturer, to the final consumer, the scope of which can include raw materials and work in process.

According to Boston Consulting Group obtaining a detailed view requires a platform that connects data from multiple systems with advanced algorithms to achieve descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. “The result will be a “control tower” that supply chain managers use to predict and respond to disruptions and inefficiencies in material flows”i. Studies point to the key role that supply chain analytics play in the market, and how companies are already using state-of-the-art technology solutions to respond to current needs.

On the other hand, visibility is key during the whole supply chain; it is usually only considered during the logistics planning process but most brands do not have access to visibility at the points of sale. When service providers say that they deliver end-to-end visibility services, they usually only refer to visibility during transportation. 

In many cases, the data from the points of sale will be key. In a case study by maxiaNET, a Fortune 500 company had visibility during transportation but was unable to access information once the product reached stores in a large Latin American market. Through an in-depth analysis, maxiaNET’s visibility team concluded that retail-based data would have allowed this partner to understand that their main competitor in one of their most successful product lines was a local brand and not the expected transnational brand. 

From this case study, we can see that visibility does not end on logistics, it needs a continued effort to understand how the product performs.

End-to-end analytics can help an organization make smarter, faster and more efficient decisions. Benefits include the ability to:

  • Increase ROI.
  • A better understanding of risks and tools to predict future problems by the timely detection of patterns and trends.
  • Improved planning accuracy.

Every organization has its own set of data-integration challenges. However, it is important to emphasize that data only becomes a relevant tool when it is analyzed and acted upon; this is where the human factor becomes crucial. In fact, most companies lack a structured process to explore, evaluate and capture big data opportunities in their supply chains, McKinsey points out.

For the latest wave of supply chain innovation to reach its full potential, it is imperative that the human side is not lost and that trained and specialized staff can accompany the process and supervise the results.

Transparency and visibility are crucial, both during transit and when the product reaches stores. In today’s retail environment, efficient distribution and marketing data-based strategies are key to success.

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