The Three Trends Driving Supply Chain Efficacy in 2021

Change is the one constant in supply chain management. And today, shippers need a flexible, agile, and data-driven process to control freight spend. Given the state of last year’s record-breaking e-commerce growth and the uncertainty in the market today, it’s essential to know how a few trends will shape the rest of 2021 and build a better supply chain strategy.

Q: How will the supply chain evolve in terms of agility?

A: Shippers need an advantage to thrive in 2021. While the industry continues to see the effects of prolonged demands on e-commerce, being nimble and understanding every decision’s financial impact becomes a critical factor in saving time and resources. And that ability will drive more efficient and effective decision-making across the global supply chain.

Agility also goes back to the generalized differences in individual datasets. Remember that not all data is built on the same source code. When you consider the variety of supply chain systems available, including TMS, WMS, WES, YMS, ERP, freight forecasting tools, and more, it can be hard to interpret and act on data. As such, it’s critical for shippers to have a common data footprint to leverage, which is where normalized data is the beginning of all data-driven processes.

Q: With the need for increased throughput, what is the most critical factor in using data analytics to create omnichannel supply chains?

A: 2021 will be the year where single-sourced carrier contracts fall by the wayside to source more capacity. It’s not just the capacity to move available shipments; it’s the ability to look beyond the typical movements and recognize when things change.

Instead of relying solely on the standard, shippers need a broader picture to find those opportunities in real time. It boils down to a singular fact. With increased supply chain network size, shippers will need a cloud-based, centralized system to collect, normalize, and analyze data, providing a ray of hope for end-to-end transportation optimization.

Q: What do you think about automated reporting and its use to enable better decision-making?

A: There was a time when it was a single person’s responsibility to manage freight and identify the best spend-savings’ opportunities. Again, that worked well when supply chains had a set, clear, and smaller group of suppliers, carriers, and partners. With the rise of third-party marketplaces, contract manufacturers, and transportation service providers’ expansion, those days are dead and gone. And an advanced solution that marries both technology and people through business intelligence reporting and automation is the only way forward.

Now, shippers are turning to automated reporting to analyze all savings opportunities presented. That empowers shippers to deliver shipments faster, cheaper, and with fewer exceptions. Technology transforms and simplifies the whole process, allowing enterprises to quantify savings with amazing accuracy and acuity effortlessly.Hannah Testani, chief operating officer at Intelligent Audit, has over a decade of experience helping Fortune 500 companies leverage data across all modes to ship smarter and lower costs.

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