Big Data is quickly reshaping supply chain management like never before. It has a huge role in producing quantifiable improvements in logistics all over the world. Supply chain management and logistics is a complex and complicated process that requires plenty of inputs and statistics to perform efficiently. This is where Big Data and Analytics are heralding the dawn of a new era in supply chain management.
Why Big Data Matters in Supply Chain Management?
According to experts in logistics and shipping, big data is making a powerful impact in supply chain management and is on the verge of reshaping the entire logistics industry. There’s no denying the fact that big data is all set to revolutionise the manufacturing and distribution process.
Most consumers never think twice before switching from a firm if they aren’t satisfied with the efficiency of the services or goods. This is where big data plays a crucial role. When used rightly, it can help companies improve the efficiency of their operations and win the trust and loyalty of clients. It’s estimated that big data and analytics can contribute to improving troubleshooting efficiency by more than 40%.
Now, let’s take a look at a few ways in which big data and analytics are transforming supply chain management.
Facilitates Knowledge Sharing
One of the primary reasons why experts are hopeful about the future of big data and analytics in supply chain management is the opportunity it makes for sharing and dissemination of knowledge. Till now, supply chain managers had to rely on a linear chain of knowledge, from Point A to Point B.
With Big Data, managers now have to access to 360 degrees of information. This includes information from all sources in the industry, irrespective of their geographic location. And all this is acquired in real time!
Doesn’t that sound great? News now breaks faster on new-age platforms like Twitter than on conventional print and news media. What’s more, information that is back-stepped by traditional media makes its way into social media. This vast reserve of information is of great value.
According to a study, more than 64% of supply chain executives consider Big Data as a valuable tool for catalysing long-term changes in supply chain management. In fact, experts predict that the role of Big Data Analytics is more impactful than other emerging technologies like 3D printing, Internet of Things, Digital Supply chains, and Cloud Computing.
Helps in Identifying Patterns and Trends
Big Data and Advanced Analytics are considered as the next big innovation in supply chain management. With the aid of big data and other emerging technological tools like geo-analytics, businesses can now optimise their production, logistics and distribution networks.
When supply chain managers have such huge volumes of data available at their fingertips, they can make use of this information to reduce hand-held inventory significantly. What’s more, it can also be used to reduce operational costs, improve customer experience and increase agility.
Additionally, big data and analytics help to identify emerging patterns and trends. This helps firms predict demand accurately and collaborate with the right distributors to manage those needs efficiently.
Helps in Figuring Optimised delivery routes
One of the biggest challenges in supply chain management is predicting and choosing the right delivery route. What looks good on paper, may not work in real-time due to a number of issues.
This is where big data and Internet of Things lends an enormous helping hand. It helps in optimising delivery routes to provide for quick delivery at the lowest costs possible. GPS technology for drivers, when combined with real-time data from various information feeds, makes logistics management efficient and highly optimised like never before.
Drivers can take advantage of traffic patterns in choosing the best routes, reducing fuel consumption, improving efficiency and lowering the overall costs.
Predict Customer Demand Accurately
With Big Data and Analytics, companies can now predict customer demand accurately in all seasons. This is a significant boost for supply chain managers as it can help in reducing inventory by more than twenty to thirty percent.
Big Data makes use of plenty of contextual and environmental factors like pricing, geopolitical influences, seasonal changes, competitor activity to predict customer demands accurately. This improves the fill rate – the rate at which an inventory meets customer requirements efficiently by more than three to seven percent.
Simplify and Enhance Distribution
With such a wide range of analytics, big data will help in streamlining the distribution networks of logistics firms. Big data helps in reducing the inventory stored in warehouses. For instance, if you use more than 100 small warehouses, right now, with proper big data and analytics, you can hold all your goods in 20 warehouses that are larger.
A reduction in the number of warehouses ensures that your customer demand is pooled in a particular place and is less susceptible to volatility.
Supports Enhancements to your Business Model
Big data helps in optimising your existing business operations by making use of real-time, location based data. For instance, consider the following example.
A firm, which supplies in two different service areas that are geographically adjacent, can combine the delivery areas by using big data analytics. This helps in reducing customer wait time and improving troubleshooting.
With big data and analytics, firms can optimise asset distribution and out beat competitors effectively.
Improves Operational Efficiency and Tracking
Companies can make use of big data analysis to address the challenges of distribution networks. It’s found out that more than 50% of firms who have embraced big data analytics have seen a visible increase in customer satisfaction and product demand.
Big data is the easiest and most efficient way to track the distribution of assets among a large number of resources. Firms can make use of the reports to locate the required information and collaborate efficiently with vendors and customers. This is highly valuable and timesaving when you have to recall products.
Big Data and Analytics: The Next-Big Frontier in Supply Chain Management
As supply chains continue to grow in complexity, it’s essential to exploit the potentials of big data analysis to reduce expenses and improve the overall efficiency. Though big data is just emerging, there’s no arguing the fact that it’s reshaping supply chain management as a whole and is paving the way for the future, right now.
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