Data by the Truckload
Q: With increasing access to data, it can be difficult to hone in on the information relevant to shippers. How can they determine which data to analyze?
A: Whether it's orders, shipments, tracking and shipping status reports, or freight invoices, shippers have abundant access to data. And although technology is supposed to make it easy to obtain critical data, it can also make it easy to get buried in an avalanche of too much information.
Because every business is different, a shipper's needs have their own set of unique challenges. Tackling them all at once isn't realistic, so the first step is deciding which measures to improve. Those focus areas can help narrow the scope of analysis and guide shippers on how to adapt processes.
Q: What external forces are making the need for data even more crucial?
A: One of the many external forces that shippers deal with is capacity fluctuation, but they don't always realize that data analysis can help them prepare. Carriers cannot always provide capacity, and this will likely be an increased threat in the future. When their usual carriers can't keep up with demand, shippers tend to "pound the phones," calling around until they can find a carrier with capacity.
Having insight from data can change the way they procure freight by giving you a complete view of a transportation network, allowing shippers to predict when and why carriers are taking less of their freight.
Q: What sources are available to shippers in search of reliable, quality data?
A: An often overlooked source of data is the freight bill, which contains an inordinate amount of information. The freight audit and payment process is much more than the last step in closing the loop on a transaction—it provides valuable and useful data at your fingertips. Once the proper business rules, audits and data conditioning have been applied, freight bills contain rich and accurate data. Examining this information will help you better understand your spend across different variables and can even inform future supply chain decision-making.
Q: In the presence of too much data, it's clear shippers shouldn't have to face analysis alone. What should they consider when enlisting a data analytics and consulting provider?
A: Fraud and information security continue to be an ongoing conversation as hackers and cyber terrorists become savvier. The data shared between supply chain partners contains business critical information. If that were to be compromised, it would cause a major disruption in an organization's business and negatively impact its bottom line. Not only is it important to be concerned about the safety, security and reliability of the provider you are entrusting, it is equally important they apply that same scrutiny to how the provider handles the data they have access to and are transmitting.