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Turning Big Data into Actionable Business Intelligence
By Mike Dieter, Chief Technology Officer, Transplace
These advanced transportation management systems (TMS) incorporate a comprehensive, graphical view of a company’s entire transportation network and includes dynamic dashboards of key performance indicators (KPIs)—such as on-time arrivals/departures and carrier performance, while also incorporating relevant information from the web, including weather and traffic alerts. This “control tower” approach to transportation management gives shippers an all-encompassing, real-time view of their entire supply chain.
Achieving Greater Supply Chain Transparency
Along with capabilities that allow shippers to plan, execute and track shipments, today’s TMS also provides the Business Intelligence(BI) , reporting and analytics needed to make strategic, data-driven decisions. Company decision makers no longer have to sift through lengthy spreadsheets to extract valuable insights, but can instead view sophisticated, multi-dimensional reports.
These reports can be customized to meet the specific needs of those at all levels of an organization. Company management can customize their reports and dashboards to provide an overview of operations, then quickly drill down to see and react to changes or concerns when necessary. However, those responsible for day-to-day operations can receive more detailed reporting on carrier performance, pickup times and delivery times, enabling “root cause” analysis and providing a better understanding of how and why there may have been fluctuations in cost or service.
It’s important to note that access to large amounts of supply chain data can be very beneficial, but access to data simply for data’s sake doesn’t eliminate redundancies, reduce costs or improve service
But while having access to reporting and analytics is important, the timeliness of that information is just as critical. For organizations with an older TMS–or those that don’t have one at all– creating reports may take a lot of time, and the end result may contain old data that’s no longer relevant. The new TMS offers databases that allow shippers to access and customize their own reports. These “self-service” types of reports are dynamic and can provide actionable insights into specific shipments, regions, carriers, lanes and more by accessing data warehouses via a cloud-based TMS.
Making Big Data Actionable
It’s important to note that access to large amounts of supply chain data can be very beneficial, but access to data simply for data’s sake doesn’t eliminate waste, reduce costs or improve service. What makes this information truly valuable is when it becomes actionable.
The ability to view shipments in real time, as well as incorporating weather and traffic alerts from the web, allows shippers to use predictive analytics to make better and more informed decisions. In fact, some systems can even help “predict the future” and alert shippers of potential disruptions– allowing them to proactively take steps to address those disruptions in order to maintain smooth operations and high levels of customer service.
For example, if there is a blizzard in the northeast, companies want to know ahead of time if their shipments going to Boston are going to be delayed so that they’re able to proactively adjust. But identifying that there will be a delay is only the first step. Control tower functionality allows shippers to take the idea of actionable business intelligence even further by enabling them to quickly and easily get real-time info on all affected shipments, then take action, such as reassigning the shipment to another carrier, rerouting a shipment, changing the destination or continuing on as planned. The shipper can then recalculate the new ETA–down to the hour–and provide detailed, accurate updates to key personnel within their own organization as well as their customers.
Drive the Supply Chain Forward With a Next-Gen TMS
The supply chain continues to evolve and become more complex, but so too does logistics technology. As software and data are now being integrated into a graphical, real-time view via a control tower, shippers can be better prepared to keep pace with today’s changing landscape and make smart, data-driven decisions that take their supply chain operations to the next level.
But in order to keep up, organizations need to continue to evolve their infrastructure and processes to incorporate the latest technology innovations. CIOs should continuously reassess their data needs, the quality of their data and the toolsets they’re using to access and analyze data, along with their ability to make that data actionable. This will allow an organization to harness the power of big data to drive real and sustainable change in the transportation planning and execution.
Transplace is a North American non-asset based logistics services provider offering manufacturers, retailers, chemical, and consumer packaged goods companies the blend of logistics technology and transportation management services.