Can big data streamline the supply chain?
The world generates a vast amount of data each day. From smart gadgets to purchasing habits, people's activities and devices produce an endless supply of information. Businesses can take advantage of this data to make better decisions, improve customer service and streamline the supply chain. However, not every corporation is using the information to progress their bottom lines.

Big data benefits companies
With the amount of big data produced throughout the supply chain, it makes sense that businesses would want to take advantage of it. They can use sensors to collect information from machines, surveys and reports to understand their employees and customers and cookies to gain knowledge about demographics. However, that data is useless if they don't have the right tools to analyze it.

Business intelligence software sorts through all the information to detect patterns and provide insight. This allows company C level executives to make decisions concerning the workings of the company. In Accenture's survey of more than 1,000 senior executives, 97 percent of respondents see the benefit of implementing an analytics platform. Nearly 50 percent have seen at least a 10 percent improvement in customer service and 36 percent have found an increase in supply chain efficiency of 10 percent or higher.

Big data analytics provide the necessary information to make real-time decisions, which leads to companies experiencing these benefits. According to One Network Enterprises, business intelligence creates supply chain visibility, Forbes magazine reported. The software will provide the knowledge corporations need to make nearly instantaneous decisions based on what is happening throughout the workflow. They can see which parts are influencing other divisions, which means if they make changes to one area, they'll know how those choices affect other departments. In fact, 41 percent of respondents to Accenture's survey stated that big data analytics allowed them to make faster and more reliable decisions in response to supply chain dilemmas.

Analytics use isn't widespread
Despite the benefits, many companies aren't willing to take the chance on implementing business intelligence software. Only 17 percent of senior executives have done so, Accenture reported. The rest have qualms about how cost-effective and safe the technology actually is. Approximately 67 percent of respondents rank the price of the platform among their top three concerns, while 64 percent and 45 percent list a lack of security and privacy, respectively.

Apprehension about the safety of a company's documents is logical. Implementing business intelligence software means giving permission to the platform, and subsequently the provider, to access both internal and customer data. Even senior executives who do install the software may not see the full potential of the program, as many fear giving business intelligence too much control, Fortune magazine explained. Because of their uneasiness with the amount of access analytics tools have, companies limit the files they can open, which hinders the software's ability to detect inefficiencies."The technology here in general exceeds the application, because people get wind of it and throw up roadblocks," Jeff Karrenbauer, founder of INSIGHT, Inc., told Fortune.

According to Karrenbauer, big data analytics can reduce supply chain costs by 15 percent if used fully and correctly. By giving business intelligence complete access to the network, companies can improve their workflows, provide top notch customer service and eliminate any bottlenecks along the way. This will allow for a more efficient supply chain and insight into how to appeal to target audiences for companies' services and products.
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