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The concept of “big calculations” is tied directly to the emergence of big data. It allows companies to discern patterns within the huge amount of information that they receive on a constant basis. The goal is to optimize the business in real time, create fast visuals and respond more quickly, says Allis.
With the aid of big calculations, companies can determine who is buying at the point of sale, then trace that data all the way up the chain. “Big data helps us understand what’s really going on,” Allis says.
In the past, he says, fleet managers would be unable to respond on a timely basis when a driver got in trouble or a load profile changed unexpectedly. Now, says Allis, transportation networks can be optimized in real time. Companies can respond to changes within a matter of minutes, and make decisions on rerouting accordingly.
There are inhibitors to the full use of big calculations. Most supply-chain decisions are still made by humans, even though sophisticated algorithms interpret business rules much more quickly than people can. Companies are faced with the challenge of reacting to small changes that can have a big impact on schedules.
“If you’re able to automate that, you can respond faster,” says Allis. “Big calculations take us to the area where human decisions used to be made.” Nevertheless, “humans have a tendency to think that they know better.”
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