October 2012 | Commentary | Checking In

The Future of Predictive Analytics Looks Certain

Tags: Logistics I.T.

Felecia Stratton is the editor of Inbound Logistics magazine.

One recurring talking point at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional's (CSCMP) September 2012 conference in Atlanta was the importance of predictive analytics. This subset of statistics captures patterns within large volumes of information to predict supply chain behavior and events—in effect, forecasting future demand based on past demand.

The emergence of cloud networking has greatly amplified the efficacy of gathering information for these purposes—which means there is more quality data to mine, archive, analyze, measure, and benchmark. The question is, what can you do with all that data? The answer: match demand to supply, making predictive analytics a competitive weapon in demand-driven supply chains.

At CSCMP, companies such as Coyote Logistics, IBM, and LLamasoft demonstrated how they are manipulating this predictive DNA strand to enhance their value proposition to customers. Whether it's modeling total landed costs, assessing the liability of suppliers, or anticipating LTL rate changes, service and technology providers understand the key to continuous improvement is the ability to gather data, measure performance, execute solutions based on performance, and raise expectations.

While technology undoubtedly empowers predictive analytics, there are far more rudimentary means to achieve similar ends. Industry conferences are great places for logisticians to gather data by networking with and learning from peers, customers, academics, consultants, and media. Whether it's triggering questions that fire synapses among talking heads, or simply engaging editors in conversations about industry trends, these types of engagements demonstrate a shared motivation to understand the future.

Inbound Logistics is another intelligence source you can turn to. As much as our writers and editors solicit feedback from industry sources to share examples of best practices, innovation, and trends, we welcome similar inquiries from readers. Or you can tap IL's "thought cloud." We recently revamped our online news section with more timely information about current events and trends. If you want a real-time feed of supply chain news from around the world, join our Twitter community.

If we appreciate the growing demand for predictive analytics at face value—and the irony of forecasting its potential—there's little doubt shippers and service providers place a greater premium on quality data. You can rely on myriad internal and external channels to mine, analyze, and validate supply chain intelligence. All you have to do is tune in.