Big Data is Redefining the Supply Chain: Putting Business Intelligence to Work

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Business and technology often have an uneasy relationship.

Many executives remain resistant to change—even when all evidence indicates that it will only benefit them. In fact, a report from the Fortune Knowledge Group found that 62 percent of C-level managers “trust their gut” as much, sometimes more, than real, measurable factors.

But they are right to be cautious. The effects of a bad decision can ripple through several organizations, causing disruption from the board to the customers and everyone in between.

This is why big data is seen as a particularly intimidating subject: the larger the pool of information, the easier it is to become overwhelmed by the number of correlations and statistics. But, if treated with the proper care and with the right tools, big data can redefine the way you do logistics. It can ground the decisions your company makes in cold, hard statistics.

Business intelligence software provides manageable and actionable information that can improve your chain’s efficiency—from manufacturer through to end-user. Let me show you what this information can do to drive profits and cut inefficiencies.

Related Article: Supply and Demand: Building Links In Your Supply Chain

End-to-End Visibility

By handling big data correctly, business intelligence software can provide far greater transparency than was previously available. We all have experience of the minor inefficiencies that can damage margins for every organization in the chain. But by making use of the data available to them, businesses can receive feedback into these inefficiencies, so that they can accurately and quickly cut them down.

With access to such accurate insights, you no longer have to rely on educated guesses.

The right tools will eliminate wasteful practices before they become a force of habit that damages the company’s bottom line. Business intelligence software can spot trends in internal processes and flag up the ones that are leading to under-performance. For example, if sales of a particular product are slipping, an alert quickly will be issued to the relevant manager.

Quick Trend Identification

Analyzing big data is not just good for spotting internal trends, however. Whilst getting actionable marketing data used to involve hours upon hours of digging through spreadsheets, business intelligence software can return useful insights with the click of a button.

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For example, f you’re handling an IT supply chain and you’ve noticed an uptick in the purchase of computer mice business intelligence software might recommend that the parts of the chain that deal with sales promote a half-off offer on keyboards at these customers.

Related Article: How to Meet Your Big Data Needs Without Crashing Your Budget

Better Relationships

Collaboration is the fundamental rule of logistics management: if one link in the chain is severed, the entire process can fall apart. The intricate nature of these relationships certainly doesn’t help things. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln—a famous administrator of a particularly large chain—“you can please some people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

Nonetheless, maintaining your relationships is made easy with business intelligence software: meaning you can please key personnel and customers more often. The technology has the potential to make every call and email you make a source of valuable data.

For example, if an executive wants to impress a potential or current collaborator before a meeting, predictive analytics can access all of their critical information from a cell phone. With modern technology, every customer can feel like your most important customer.

A Renewed Focus

The biggest and most important advantage big data provides is efficiency—a prized quality in the supply chain industry.

“Best practice” isn’t just a buzzword: with business intelligence, you can hone your processes to their absolute peak – and keep up with fast-changing times. We’ve all lost afternoons to frustration with spreadsheets and invoices, or paid people to get frustrated with them for us. Business intelligence software removes both problems from the equation: it supplies real-time updates and insights, enabling you to make large or small-scale changes as necessary.

Without the need to spend time figuring this out yourself, you’ll free up time to devote to business-critical activities and will have a noticeable edge on your competitors. This, more than anything, is the Big Secret of Big Data: it doesn’t create good managers, it just allows good managers to flourish.

In Big Data Driven Supply Chain Management, Nada R. Sanders wrote that the advent of business intelligence means we “no longer guess or use hunches”. She’s right—supply chain management is changing, and for the better.


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