Analytics Holds the Key for End to End Integration

“It’s the dialogue when teams review analytics that’s most insightful. Data without context is useless.” – Senior Manufacturing Supply Chain Executive

This comment was made in a recent discussion by a group of senior manufacturing executives thinking about the need for improved information in their global supply chains.  Too often, they complained, reviews of standard Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are typically backward looking and often seen as a “check-the-box” necessity but of limited strategic value. Where the real insights began to occur is when information that was presented in the context of baseline and trends emerged, leading to quick identification of deviations, variations, and trending patterns that could quickly lead to team reviews and action items.  It is this context of “what does good (or bad) look like?” that leads to the most important insights.  In manufacturing networks, analytics that provide data without a basis for improvement, deterioration, or comparison with other meaningful comparators is perceived as being of little value.  To be relevant, manufacturing analytics also need to cross not only functional boundaries, but indeed, enterprise boundaries.

Leading organizations are recognizing that to enable people, technology can provide insights, visibility, and promote an action-oriented culture.  Our recent logistics study found that the largest growth in new technology investments will be in RFID, inventory optimization software, and generally in analytics and big data technologies. Analytics investments that have a direct tie to user requirements, customer responsiveness, and accountability for results have the best promise of being adopted successfully.

Top performers are investing in a solid basis of robust logistics and supply chain data collection and analytical technologies.  To do so, however, requires that a foundation be constructed to enable tracking of events, transactions, and build a strong data-based analytics foundation (ERP, RFID, and barcodes).  Such technologies will become the foundation for network optimization, global material visibility, and end-to-end integration.  As multiple parties across the extended global supply chain have access to the same “sheet of music”, the global supply chain orchestra will be playing their instruments and produce a masterpiece of sound.  Technologies can help to integrate planning processes and ensure aligned responses to global events, and also provide a foundation for analytics that will become more important in the near future for competitive decision-making.  Technology will also enable tracking of events beyond first tier suppliers, and provides a real-time update of key performance indicators used to ensure optimization of supply chain plans



Laying the foundation will be important, but it’s often difficult to see the big picture when you’re down in the weeds!