Supply chain managers: Getting started with big data analytics

A recent survey by JDA Software Group indicated that, when it comes to using digital technologies in the supply chain, analytics and visibility are the two areas where the most value is offered. The problem is that the majority of companies are still struggling to uncover and implement strategies for using these tools effectively and appropriately.

As systems become more integrated, connected and electronic, vast amounts of data are proliferating which, when used correctly, can give businesses a severe competitive advantage. However, the majority of information among most organizations ends up going to waste.

Big data benefits
There are a wide range of benefits of using big data analytics tools, software and technologies along the supply chain. It can lead to increased visibility, reduced risk of disruption, improved accuracy and better workflow efficiency. So, why are so many companies not taking advantage of these solutions? There are a number of possible reasons. For example, a lack of awareness of the array of benefits using these processes presents them with, confusion on how to best go about it and feeling like it isn't an appropriate use of budget.

According to research conducted by risk management organization DNV GL, more than half of professionals worldwide agree that big data has the potential to give them a business advantage, 65 percent think it will be a critical aspect moving forward and most, or 76 percent, expect to either start or continue investing in big data tools, Spend Matters reported. However, a mere 23 percent said they have a formal plan in place for using it.

The survey participants cited a number of benefits of using big data in the supply chain, such as better customer service (16 percent), stronger decision-making (16 percent), cost savings (11 percent) and improved efficiency (23 percent).

Crossing the bridge to supply chain digitalization
Spend Matters also pointed to a report published by KPMG that showed similar findings about a significant portion of companies planning to use advanced digital technologies, yet only a fraction actually doing so currently. Obviously, many organizations need some guidance on how to best go about using big data analytics and other supply chain technology.

In an article for First Post, Rajeev Nayar recently explained that it is imperative for businesses to understand the need to eliminate siloed operations because, in order to make the most of big data capabilities, there must be access across all locations throughout the network. In addition, Nayar said that a clear plan must be put in place throughout the entire organization. He also suggested establishing a budget and deciding whether the model will be a centralized, federated or hybrid one.

Although the specific strategies and steps for leveraging big data analytics and software will vary between businesses, it is going to be increasingly necessary for companies to make sure they are, at the very least, taking the initiative to move toward a more digital supply chain. Therefore, if an organization does not possess the in-house capabilities, experience or skills needed to ensure ideal investments are made in smart technology, then safely and effectively implemented, it is highly recommended that the business collaborate with a strategic sourcing partner.

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