Every product we see on our supermarket shelves goes through a process before it reaches us. It starts with the supplier who provides the components to make the product, then there is the manufacturer, the distributor and finally the customer. If you check the labels of products, you will find that most are made in other countries and this is a reminder of the importance of the supply chain. It is essential that the supply chain process is as smooth as possible, or it can cause major disruptions to a business. A survey by Deloitte in 2014, revealed that 79% of companies who had strong supply chains, achieved a growth in revenue which was above average. Big data and analytics are slowly being introduced into the supply chain and they are changing things for the better. Big data is set to transform supply chain management in many ways.

What is big data?

Although data has always been important in supply chain management, improvements in big data analysis gives new ways to achieve a competitive edge. With the right tools to analyze it, high volumes of data can help businesses to uncover subtle trends and make processes more efficient. This vital data may come from suppliers, distributors or a variety of other sources – basically anyone associated with the supply chain.

The advantages of big data and analytics

The business world is competitive, and it is essential for business owners to make as much use of data as they can, in order to make more informed decisions. The decision-making process is then based on facts, rather than just opinions or feelings, which are nowhere near as efficient as evidence-based data. In the retail sector for example, the use of data and artificial intelligence can help businesses to understand customer behaviour and make decisions based on trends. It can also allow them to make suggestions about products a specific customer may be interested in. In this way, big data can help businesses to grow and prosper, and most importantly, to stay competitive.

Identify Inefficiencies

Clever data collection and analysis enables the business to identify and improve any inefficiencies in the process. For example, it may be able to identify consistent time delays or any other difficulties in the supply chain, which can be dealt with quickly, before they become bigger problems.

Improve communication

One of the biggest advantages of big data and analytics is the ability to communicate more quickly. With the use of data, any issues in the supply chain, such as delays, can be identified, communicated and resolved more quickly, involving all key parties in the chain. This can help ensure the customer is not affected by any problems in the supply chain. If customers or distributors are continuously let down by suppliers, they won’t hesitate in going elsewhere, improved communication can help ensure the process remains as smooth as possible.

Enhance customer relationships

Big data and analytics can help improve relationships with the customer in many ways. As the process is improved through big data, it enhances the journey for the customer. Businesses have a better understanding of what their customers want and can ensure they meet the needs of their customers. Data taken from a variety of sources, including social media, can give businesses a better idea of what their customers want and how they can ensure that they meet those needs. It can also help identify any systematic disruptions in the supply chain, which might be affecting the customer.

Conclusion:

The benefits of big data analytics can be remarkable, especially the ability to understand trends in real time and to keep the lines of communication open. Big data is factual, so there is no room for error or discrepancies. As it is also based on a variety of sources, it gives a broader view of the whole process, which can help ensure the supply chain process runs as smoothly as possible. Businesses who introduce big data into their supply chain management will be able to transform their process.