10 TIPS: Make Your Supply Chain Data Work for You

10 TIPS: Make Your Supply Chain Data Work for You

The term “big data” describes harnessing information from disparate systems and situating it in one place for deep analysis. Some companies thought this was a fad, but supply chain data is the lifeblood of your business. Here’s how to make it work for you.

1. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. In today’s world, you can’t measure meaningful business metrics without data. In our super-connected landscape, data represents the all-important voice of the customer. You need data to measure the success of your customer and supplier relationships.

2. Not all data comes from your ERP. Consider data from user reviews, surveys, customer behavior, industry news, and social media posts. Harnessing big data from both structured and unstructured sources provides you with the information needed to improve your end-to-end supply chain.

3. Gain insight from unstructured data. Suppose a celebrity sings your product’s praises on national television and demand goes through the roof. By monitoring and incorporating your social media sources into your data analysis, you’ll be better situated to reposition inventory on short notice.

4. Create seamless data exchanges. Disparate systems need to seamlessly exchange structured data, but these systems are often still siloed. Use APIs and cloud platform technology to create seamless data exchanges.

5. Layer in AI and ML for deeper insights. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)provide opportunities to “learn” from your data to deliver predictive insights. You’ll gain advantages that include prescriptive ideas for optimal outcomes.

6. Clean and Maintain your data. Insights derived for your supply chain are only as good as the data you use. Incorporate data cleansing processes to remove entries that do not belong. Eliminate duplicate data, which occurs when you combine data sets from multiple places. Fix structural errors that may arise when data is transferred from one place to another.

7. Use a data-driven approach. Strategically use your data to better manage production, distribution, and inventory in real time. A data-driven approach empowers faster and more informed decision-making. This approach improves your supply chain’s ability to react to sudden changes, such as moving containers to a less- congested port.

8. There’s an app for that. The proliferation of apps for just about anything has generated countless downloads—and more data. Using these apps, you can integrate data to provide deeper insights. For example, data from a weather app can be combined with transportation routes for a better estimated delivery time, which improves customer satisfaction.

9. Mitigate risk and disruption. Due to the pandemic, the term “supply chain” is now both recognizable and meaningful to the average person. Using structured and unstructured data together—coupled with world events such as pandemics, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, or war—can severely disrupt supply chains directly and indirectly. Critical business functions, including determining points of manufacture and distribution along with levels of inventory, are all affected. The good news is that harnessing all the available data in concert with supply chain optimization software and relevant expertise can mitigate risk for your company.

10. Model what-if scenarios to create the optimal supply chain. One of the most effective uses of supply chain data is “what-if” analysis, which allows you to model different aspects and operations of the supply chain with a holistic view to better understand the impact of your decisions and, thus, reduce risk. Inventory, network, and transportation models are common.