When data is collated and analysed in the right way, we can spot trends that lead to more insightful decision making. This is easier to do when data is neatly ordered, and sitting in cleansed databases. But what about unstructured data such as the weather and world events?
These factors are less predictable but can have a massive impact on the supply chain. According to Bernard Marr, author of Big Data in Practice, companies are now starting to monitor, collect and utilise this type of information.
“As with just about every area of industrial operations, Big Data is starting to make inroads into logistics and supply chain management – large steps have certainly been taken over the past two years,” he said.
Previously untapped sources of data, such as social media, are now being harnessed in order to anticipate demand for a products and generate real time insights in a way that historical data cannot. With companies also looking to take advantage of technology, such as RFID systems, bar code scanners and Internet of Things devices, the number of data streams businesses are expected to manage is growing exponentially.
Companies looking to exploit various sources of information, coming from both inside and outside the organisation, will need to have systems in place to process all this Big Data. Without an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system, like Access Supply Chain, it will be difficult for companies to make the information accessible and turn insight into actions.
Marr believes there is still a long way to go when it comes to exploiting the potential of Big Data, but claims companies can’t afford to ignore the potential. “Opportunities to create efficiency and savings through smart use of data are everywhere,” he said.