Supply Chain analytics and data-driven decision making
In this blog I want to focus on the topic ‘Supply Chain Analytics and Data-driven Decision Making’. Main topics will be
- From data to information
- Extension of your supply chain
- Better informed decision making
- Technology is not a blocker anymore but supportive
Each topic will be discussed in more detail, while I try to tie all the knots together in the last paragraph.
From data to information
We drown in data, but do we have the right information? What is a signal and what is noise? And with the every increasing amount of data, also the amount of noise increases. The step from data to information will become more and more important. Which KPI’s are relevant for your supply chain and which data points are needed to feed that KPI? And in which update frequency? Monthly, weekly, daily or even several times a day?
With the use of Information Technology (IT) we see the number of data points increasing. Think of sensors in combination with the Internet of Things (IoT). Predictive analytics is already very important and will increase in importance. Think of maintenance: you do not want your factory to shut down based on broken machines, instead you want planned maintenance at times more suitable with less distractions for your processes. With predictive analytics this is available, if you incorporate all the sensor generated data points in combinations with Artificial Intelligence (AI) models.
More data points with the use of the right technological tools and techniques will help supply chain professionals to distinguish the signal from the noise and improve decision making.
Extension of your supply chain
Your customers know, in most cases, when they want your products. Based on that demand signal, you can translate that to a supply plan. Based on that supply plan, you place orders to your suppliers for semi-finished products or raw materials.
This process is in most companies not fully automated. By extending your supply chain and connect the systems, from the earliest demand signal all the way down to supplies, the full supply chain will benefit from earlier information by having the required materials or goods available at the right time at the right place.
Disruptions in the initial demand signal or availability of raw materials and semi-finished goods allows for a quick and transparent replanning of activities, including up- and downstream communication. Extension of data exchange in your supply chain will increase the overall performance. Technology is definitely an enabler, as we will see.
Better informed decision making
Better informed decisions are only made if the right data is available at the right time. Missing data does not increase the quality of your decision making, neither does arriving the right data too late. To improve decision making, you need to specify which data points are needed, in which quality and at what time.
As mentioned above, we nowadays drown in data. So the absence of required data is not an excuse anymore to improve your decision making. Only not having that data at the right moment in the right quality. With the current technology, that should not be a problem, and brings us to the next paragraph.
Technology is not a blocker anymore but supportive
In the beginning of this century, we did not have the extensive, rich data sets as we do have now. Also the technology to store and read all the data was very immature compared to what we currently have to our availability. High speed databases, fast data connections, data analytics and reporting platforms, cloud-based planning technology…we’re in an age where technology supports the business processes better than ever.
Technology can not be used as an excuses anymore when our decision making process is producing poor results. If we have the data and the technology in place, we need to look at the processes to make information out of it. Do we have the right people on board (level, skillset)? Do we need to train staff (tools, data)? Do we monitor and focus on the right KPI’s (focus)? Do we need to speed up the collection of data and processing into valuable information (technology)?
We generate billions of data points each day. And that number will increase. Technology as it stands today is very supportive to improve the level of informed decision making. If the level of decision making is lacking the right quality, you have work to do. Your competitor will leap frog into the future and kick your ass if you don’t.
And yes, in supply chain nothing seems like it is. We have learned from the nearby past that major disruptions will have a huge impact on supply chain. Being agile, having the right data, technology and the ability to respond quickly will allow you to minimise the risk and beat competition. If you did not catch my point: invest in your supply chain analytics and data-driven decision making processes now to stay on top of your league.