Data is the new oil – it becomes more essential than ever. Technological leaps like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning run on data. They’re already beginning to transform supply chain operations across many sectors. So, is your supply chain organization prepared to adopt these emerging technologies and generate operational improvements to deliver the anticipated ROI?
As we’re seeing, digital technology in the supply chain enables end-to-end decision-making, visibility into supply-demand information across the network and supports the operational level response in plants, DCs and retail stores. Many organizations have challenges based on legacy processes and systems, possibly decades old, which could significantly hinder the implementation of new data-driven technologies. In fact, industry experts estimate that 35 to 40 percent of all data in supply chain systems is faulty.
Many organizations operate today with data that is stored in silos, incompatibly formatted, difficult to access and hard to analyze in a comprehensive fashion. To overcome these barriers, it can be productive to engage a third party to find out why things are the way they are, and what can be done about it.
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5 big questions to ask
Organizations hoping to tap the benefits of emerging technology face these difficult questions. Thus, as supply chain experts, make sure you know the answers to these questions.
Sharing data with third parties and vendors will be necessary for implementation of blockchain and AI-assisted decision making processes. Most organizations won’t have the capabilities to support these activities internally. Shared data will flow to vendors for analysis and use in the applications. While due diligence is required, any organization that won’t share data is effectively opting out of the mainstream supply chain.
When is the right time to share your data?
Before your organization embarks on a new technology initiative, it’s essential to make sure your data stream is ready in terms of completeness and accuracy. It’s always a good time to share targeted, relevant data with trusted partners.
Are you measuring the right things?
While traditional KPIs are still important, it’s essential to understand which data is most valuable to drive decision-making. An experienced Enterprise Logistics Provider will help you home in on the key business drivers and identify those aspects that can be a lower priority.
Do you know what your data is telling you?
For shippers, reports like a least-cost carrier report drive further analysis. There might be many valid reasons why the lowest-cost carrier wasn’t used. Perhaps you’re focused on meeting service level agreements. Or the lowest-cost carrier couldn’t meet specialized parameters of the load. Legacy strategies focused on cost reduction and resource optimization must give way to a culture focused on creativity, resilience and problem-solving. Using optimization software and simulation tools can reveal options that drive structural changes to ensure the lowest landed cost to the customer.
Can you trust who is reading your data?
When you have clean data, the information will drive tactical and strategic decisions that will support predictive analytics and demand forecasting to drive operational efficiencies. Importantly, this information also fuels additional efficiencies through prescriptive analytics to automate decision-making by evaluating the best solution in complex environments. You need a partner to trust to interpret your valuable data, and that partner must take data security seriously, placing utmost priority on compliance with federal and state guidelines and regulations.
Emerging technologies are rapidly transforming the future of supply chain. Business, as we know it today, is changing. But we can’t get there without genuinely reexamining how we collect, manage and analyze information. Leaders who understand what they need to change within their organizations to optimize these new technologies will emerge as survivors and leaders.
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