data-analysisYour supply chain is controlled by data. As that data flows between your company an your trading partners it tells a story. For most companies that story is the current state of events. It reflects the orders, shipments, product inventories, and even work in process. Once the current status has passed the data can largely be considered to have served its purpose. But there’s a lot more to be gained from looking at that data as well as the facts about the data (its metadata) that may help expand the reach and effectiveness of your supply chain activities.

Knowing just what products your eventual end customers will buy has become more difficult to keep up with as the pace of change has accelerated over the last few years. In the retail market consumers’ preferences and buying patterns change quickly. In the industrial world the pace of change may not keep up with consumer change but the impact can be equally important because of the magnitude and difficulty involved to make changes.

According to the State of Global Supply Chain Report published by GTNexus the difficulties are well understood by manufacturers. The report shows that more than 1/4 of manufacturers struggle keeping up with the rate of change their customers demand. This is made more complex because of the wide dispersion of supply chains that span the globe. The distances introduce timing issues and constrain deliveries. Those factors can be offset to some extent by the use of analytics on the data generated throughout the order, manufacture, delivery, and distribution process.

Data isn’t constrained by distance in the same way physical products are, and can be gathered and analyzed immediately. But simply having the data won’t solve the problems. Companies that have used data only to enhance their supply chain efforts, resulting in overall wins for their business have found that deep and fast analysis is what makes the difference.

The same GTNexus survey reports that “24% of global manufacturers predict advanced analytics will make the greatest impact to their supply chain’s performance.” This makes analytics the leading issue among a field of technologies that have garnered much more attention in the general press, including IoT, 3D printing, and RFID.

How much attention are you paying to analytics? And how are you applying your findings to your business practices?
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