Evan Rhodes, director of client services with P3, explains the importance of real-time data, and why supply chains are finally able access and use it to achieve resiliency.
The demand for real-time data is being driven by heightened consumer expectations in the era of e-commerce, Rhodes says. But having data about past events — looking through “the rear-view mirror” — is no longer sufficient. Data today is crucial to meeting the needs of the moment, as well as predicting future changes in demand. That’s when data “is transformed into information, and ultimately into insight that creates value for the end consumer,” he says.
Data is coming from everywhere, in unprecedented volumes. Unstructured data, generated by social media, is especially tough to process and prioritize. That makes it increasingly difficult to separate what’s valuable from “noise.” To achieve that goal, companies need to identify the key business decisions that need to be made. And that information must \be tied to key performance indicators that are specific to the organization in question.
One problem that frustrates access to real-time data is a reliance by many companies on older technology, such as Excel spreadsheets, which are insufficient for the task of answering modern questions, Rhodes says. They can also be a barrier to convincing supply-chain partners to share information on a real-time basis. The adoption of newer business-intelligence tools is a first step toward “democratizing” data and ensuring that it’s deployed across organizations and functional silos. Rhodes recommends that companies distill their core metrics so that they can be understood and followed by all parts of the business.
Also of growing value in analyzing data is artificial intelligence, although Rhodes says humans will always be part of the process when it comes to making key decisions.
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