Find the Data You’ve Been Looking For
Q: Why do companies struggle to get good data?
A: It’s no secret that data is the foundation for a world-class logistics strategy. It’s also no secret how to find the right data, yet many companies struggle to find the data they’ve been looking for. Companies have a lot of data, but not the data they can use effectively.
The common issue I hear from logistics managers is they don’t trust their data. This is because the data isn’t clean. Without clean data, it’s impossible to develop or deploy a sound strategy or accurately diagnose issues.
Q: What obstacles prevent getting good data?
A: Two hurdles hinder getting good data you can trust: sheer volume and variety. When dealing with logistics data, a company may have thousands of trading partners, with each one creating data per their own standard.
Then throw in the mix the fact that many of the shipments are tendered to the carrier by hand (using a handwritten bill of lading). When a vendor handwrites a bill of lading for a shipment that is destined for you, the carrier must manually enter in the handwritten bill of lading before the data can be transmitted to you.
Keeping this type of data clean and standardized requires a very sophisticated system built to understand how the data is being created (through multiple manual steps).
Many companies and logistics firms use systems that generate their shipments as the repository for this data. The issue with this situation is that these systems are built to work with one partner—the company that is using them, and not the thousands of partners that are creating the data. These systems also can’t capture transactions that did not originate from their environment. Without complete data, the data cannot be trusted.
Q: How can I get good data?
A: To get good data you can trust, look for a wholistic logistics solution that starts with visibility tools. Is order information integrated with shipment and tracking information? Is this integrated with the freight invoice? A clean, standardized dataset is your foundation to diagnose issues accurately. Fancy analytics won’t solve anything if it doesn’t start with clean data.
Q: What’s the payback for investing in good data?
A: The payback for investing in good data and the right visibility services and analytics tools can be almost immediate. We see many shippers throttle their own strategies to fit their current systems. Once you have data, it’s easy to make the business case internally to make the strategic changes that are revealed in the data.