Although it's still in an evolutionary state, big data is already showing tremendous potential across nearly all industries, professions and applications.

How Data Management Can Keep the Supply Chain on Track

Megan Ray Nichols | Schooled by Science

The data management sector works with a unique set of supply chain components. With key contacts in the way of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers, it can be difficult to navigate the process. To makes things easier, proactive and savvy supply chain experts are taking advantage of various tips and tricks to streamline the process from end to end.


Demand Forecasting

A rather simple concept at its core, effective demand forecasting can be a boon for new and established companies alike. This process utilizes raw data collected from previous sales and marketing campaigns, production timelines and organizational finances to predict future sales of your existing product lines.

The accuracy of demand forecasting is dependent on the validity of the information that's used, so it's critical that this information is accurate from the start. By communicating with external suppliers, manufacturers and distributors, and by soliciting feedback from the end-users of your product, it's rather easy to collect accurate and verifiable data for this purpose.

Some manufacturers use a web-based search engine as a new data input. Because these searches are generated by users themselves, this can be an incredibly reliable indicator when it comes to predicting current and future demand.

Identifying and capitalizing on new and innovative forms of data collection is part of what the recent big data movement is all about, and it's paying off huge dividends for some of the earliest adapters.


Integrated Business Planning

Manufacturers are starting to use integrated business planning (IBP) to keep track of suppliers, distributors, partners and customers. By aligning your company's goals and objectives with their tendencies, you'll be able to increase the efficiency and success of your own plans.

Traditionally, manufacturers used enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in tandem with sales and operations planning (S&OP) to take care of their long-term forecasting and planning needs. But as the company begins to grow in size and scale and as it begins to experience a rapidly evolving workforce and organizational structure, the increased complexity of operations becomes a problem.

Modern IBP software lets you manage these metrics in a more efficient manner. Some are equipped with additional utilities and tools that are also useful to the supply chain, including cash flow analysis, costing and planning.   


Supplier Collaborations

Collaboration with your external suppliers and partners is critical to your supply chain. Knowing the exact capabilities of your third-party resources can go a long way in increasing efficiency and profitability, so it's important you get to know these contacts through joint ventures and activities.

Thankfully, big data has had a profound effect on the growth of supplier and partner networks. Although many companies have already started using various data collection and mining techniques to better connect with their customer base, some of the more proactive supply chain professionals are seeing the value in learning more about their suppliers, vendors and partners. The result is stronger communications and quicker, more consistent results.


Risk Analytics

Effective big data management can improve your risk analytics. By analyzing your successes and shortcomings of the past, and by properly analyzing historical, recent and future trends, risk management specialists are better poised to make forecasts with greater accuracy and efficiency than ever before.

As valuable as it is, big data comes with a number of inherent risks of its own. Personal emails, social media posts and mobile communications present new risks. The technical aspects of these risks should be familiar to professionals in auditing and risk management roles, but it doesn't diminish their importance. Once again, it comes down to ensuring the accuracy of the raw data and the validity of the information that is inputted into the system.


Strengthening the Entire Supply Chain

Not only does effective data management keep your supply chain on track, but it can help strengthen your internal processes and functionality in the future. By verifying data, communicating with suppliers and collaborating with partners, you can finally embrace big data and all it has to offer.  

Although it's still in an evolutionary state, big data is already showing tremendous potential across nearly all industries, professions and applications.

About Megan Ray Nichols
Megan Ray Nichols is a blogger and freelance science writer. She posts weekly on her blog, Schooled By Science, about the latest news in science and technology. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys reading and hiking.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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