5 ways big data will shake up supply chain systems

Big data analytics can provide visibility into where things are, where they should be, and what’s gumming up the system.

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Big data is the buzzword we can’t avoid, but for good reason: it’s changing the way a lot of businesses operate, and will continue to do so, especially within the supply chain world.

Sixty-four percent of supply chain executives consider big data analytics a disruptive and important technology, according to SCM World, even though it’s still a relatively new application of the technology.

“Most large Fortune 500 companies have been using big data for one to three years,” says Jeff Saltz, associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. “They’re experimenting some and getting significant value.”

But companies like Amazon and Apple have budgets beyond the moon. What about companies that don’t fall within the Fortune 500, let alone the 1000 or 2000?

Here are five ways big data will change supply chain as we know it, and how to get your company there -- even if you’re met with a chorus of “What we have now works!” because it probably won’t for the business climate 10, 15, 20 years ahead.

1. Boosting visibility

Big data analytics can provide visibility into where things are, where they should be, and what’s gumming up the system – assuming the data is the right stuff.

This can save money at every point in the process, especially when it comes to finding errors and fixing them before they become multi-million dollar headaches. “If we make the assumption that something happens very early in the supply chain, that will have a ripple effect,” says Barry Pellas, CTO and chief business technologist at IT consulting firm PointSource.

Big data can also help companies with the planning and execution parts of that supply chain, says Melanie Nuce, vice president of corporate development at standards organization GS1 US, by letting companies know where their stuff is, and where it should be.

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