AFN defines business intelligence as the task of taking vast amounts of data and boiling it down to the most relevant information for use either internally or by partners, says Malcolm. "The purpose is to get information that can be acted on and used to make decisions that will positively impact an organization."
Fundamental requirements for business intelligence include appropriate technology and analytical skills, he says. "Domain expertise is critical as well," he says, as are communication and collaboration. "It is one thing to look at the data and analyze it and prepare reports around it, but it is quite another thing to make those reports meaningful to our business partners and to other parts of our organization."
How companies use business intelligence for logistics decisions depends on the nature of their relationships with providers, he says. "A preferred provider may offer intelligence around mode optimization or mode selection, least-cost routing, shipment consolidation and compliance with safety regulations," he says. In an exclusive partnership, a logistics provide may contribute intelligence to support larger organizational decisions, such as when to enter or exit a new market vertical, when to set up or close down a specific business location and when to ramp up or lean down inventories to meet demand for products.
"Business intelligence can really be used to make change happen in the supply chain," says Malcolm. "It can be used to provide visibility and transparency to data and supporting metrics, enabling a better assessment of risk and a better return on equity and assets."
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