How to Use Data to Get More Visibility into Your Supply Chain By Brett Martin March 17, 2023 Supply chains have undergone—and continue to experience—major changes and disruption. Worker shortages, rapidly changing customer demands, logistics problems, transportation bottlenecks, and other factors have all contributed to challenges. Even sales patterns that used to be easy to predict, such as those based on holidays and seasonal buying, have become much harder to understand, amplifying the need for visibility across the entire supply chain. Business and consumer needs change faster than ever, which has a ripple effect across supply chains that are trying to keep up. On top of this, global supply chains have become increasingly complex, making them more susceptible to delays caused by everything from inclement weather to shipping problems to raw materials shortages. Keeping the supply chain moving without interruption places new demands for data and analytics to provide visibility and insights. A supply chain that’s driven by a modern approach to data and analytics enables new benefits, such as improved operations, enhanced demand forecasting, increased efficiencies, reduced costs, and better customer experiences. Supply Chain Analytics Keep Modern Supply Chains Running Data that can provide visibility into supply chains is coming from traditional, new, and emerging sources. This includes enterprise resource planning and point of sale systems, a growing number of internet of things (IoT) devices, inventory and procurement solutions, and more. Customer-centric supply chains integrate additional data to better understand the products and services consumers want. This entails data across social media, purchasing histories, and customer journeys to have insights into customer behaviors and sentiment. Supply chain analytics and enterprise data management capabilities are needed for organizations to know where their products and materials are at any moment and identify ways to optimize processes. These capabilities, for example, allow companies to track and trace products—from parts to sub-assemblies to final builds—as they move from one location to another through the supply chain until they arrive at their final destination. That destination could be a retail store or a customer’s front doorstep. Supply chain visibility helps organizations minimize risk while identifying opportunities, such as improving planning to avoid higher cost next-day shipping to meet tight timeframes. Better planning allows companies to use less expensive shipping options without causing unexpected downtimes in factories. Visibility is also essential for building resilience and agility into the supply chain, allowing the business to pivot quickly as customer needs change or new trends emerge. The enabler of visibility, and for insights delivered at every point across the end-to-end supply chain, is data. When all relevant data is brought together on a single platform and readily available to all stakeholders, businesses not only know where their parts, components, and products are, but they can proactively identify and address potential challenges before they cause delays or other problems. A Growing Need for Supply Chain Resilience Although companies need a resilient supply chain, most are not achieving it. According to “Gartner Predicts 2023: Supply Chain Technology,” by 2026, 95% of companies will have failed to enable end-to-end resiliency in their supply chains. “Due to the last few years of major and minor supply chain disruptions, many companies are looking to drive more resiliency into their supply chains,” according to Gartner. “They see this as a key means to help them buffer against the impacts of these ongoing disruptions more effectively.” Improving resiliency requires the business to move from analysis on basic forecasting data to connecting and analyzing all data for real-time insights that produce more accurate and robust forecasts, uncover opportunities to improve sustainability, and meet other supply chain goals. The insights help organizations identify macro- and micro-level issues that could impact the supply chain—and predict issues with enough time for the business to proactively respond. Manual processes and outdated legacy systems that won’t scale to handle the data volumes needed for end-to-end insights will not give organizations the resiliency or visibility they need. By contrast, a modern cloud data platform breaks down silos to integrate all data and can quickly scale to solve data challenges. This type of platform can deliver the supply chain analytics and enterprise data management needed to reach supply chain priorities faster. For example, manufacturers can know where raw materials are in the supply chain, when they’re due to arrive at a facility, and how a change in transportation methods or routes can impact both operations and profitability. Retailers can know when items will be available in warehouses to meet customer demand, fill orders, and nurture customer journeys. Easily Connect, Manage, and Analyze Supply Chain Data Organizations that have the ability to bring together data from all sources along the supply chain and perform analytics at scale can gain the visibility needed to inform decision making and automate processes. With the right approach and technology, organizations can turn their supply chain into a competitive advantage. The Avalanche Cloud Data Platform makes data easy. It simplifies how people connect, manage, and analyze their data to modernize and transform their supply chain. With Avalanche’s built-in data integration, businesses can quickly build pipelines to ingest data from any source. Anyone in the organization who needs the data can easily access it to make informed decisions, gain insights, expand automation, and optimize it for other supply chain needs. Related resources you may find useful: Building a Cohesive Data Management Strategy for Supply Chain Visibility Are Real-Time Analytics in Supply Chain Management Important? The Power of Real-time Supply Chain Analytics About Brett Martin Brett Martin is a contributing consultant for Actian. He has nearly 15 years of experience in data warehousing, advanced analytics, and data-enabled outcomes. He enjoys sharing innovative approaches to optimizing data and analytics to drive new benefits and successes. Brett provides insights that engage and inspire companies to transform, improve profitability, and innovate faster through a modern approach to data utilization.