Emerging technologies are rapidly transforming the future of business — with a range of strategic and operational impacts across global supply chains. Also with these tools comes a modern requirement for timely, accurate data.
Any decision-support tool is reliant on the cleanliness of the data used. With thousands of automated supply-chain transactions each day, it’s becoming more critical for companies to identify and adjust any questionable information.
Data collection, validation, management and analysis are fundamental to advancing supply-chain strategies, and provide a foundation for implementing new technologies. Continuously evaluating the integrity of these programs must be inherent to business culture — companies need to review and scrub data from suppliers, customers, service providers and transportation partners to enable end-to-end decision-making at a rapid pace. A comprehensive plan for data management activities ensures the information delivers actionable benefits across the enterprise.
Historically, strategic supply-chain design would allot 25% to 40% of effort to data cleaning, validation and assumption development (to prevent data from skewing an analysis and influencing an erroneous decision). Hours were spent determining zip codes or deciphering loads versus orders. With the speed of business today, these manual processes no longer cut it.
As companies invest in technologies that remove the human element, cross-checking data between sources helps ensure the pieces are correct and gaps are filled. For example: ERP order data should match TMS shipment data and carrier audits. As blockchain matures, it will help maintain alignment between the different parties evaluating accuracy as products move through the supply chain.
Third-party partners can assist, too, by determining with an unbiased lens why discrepancies exist and how to correct them. A trusted partner can help identify the right information to guide better business decision making.
Next-generation technologies will deliver value across supply chains throughout the next decade, as data management becomes more critical to business strategy and performance. Industry leaders will continue to re-examine data collection, management and analysis on a regular basis — before and after technologies are deployed.
John Richardson is vice president of supply chain analytics at Transportation Insight.
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