Supply chains are very intricate systems that have many independent parts rotating simultaneously.
Inevitably, this can cause data silos that isolate valuable information, making it difficult for administrators to find necessary data. Business intelligence tools can be helpful in gathering and combining all this spread out data to create a more holistic view of business operations.
How BI can impact supply chain management
Running a business with a supply chain suite lessens the likelihood of big data silos, but if a business uses specific solutions for demand planning, distribution and inventory management, it will require tools with a greater set of skills to analyze the data from each of those products. However, when used properly, business intelligence software can benefit all aspects of a supply chain.
Business Intelligence for Demand Planning
Demand management is critical for supply chains because it determines how much production is needed for the business to hit profit numbers. Business intelligence solutions can help businesses better forecast demand needs. By combining both historical and pipeline sales numbers with market sentiment, supply chains can better estimate the amount of time and resources they will need to devote to production. If a company under- or over-produces, then it directly affects profit numbers; accurate forecasting is very important for supply chains.
Business Intelligence for Distribution
Ensuring that the product reaches the customer in a satisfactory amount of time is also important to a business’ bottom line. With business intelligence software, companies can track distribution to prove that fleets are following service-level agreements on deliveries. If deliveries are taking longer than expected, these same business intelligence products allow managers the opportunity to fix it. Business intelligence products can also track outside factors, which also influence distribution. The solutions can help account for potential blockers, such as bad weather, to determine how they affect the bottom line. Additionally, with these solutions companies can track business-related expenses, like fuel costs, to better maximize profits.
Business Intelligence for Inventory Management
When business intelligence tools are able to access inventory data, users can optimize volume numbers for the greatest profit. Businesses trying to avoid a surplus or deficit will want to utilize such information to make sure they are not sitting on too much product after a busy season, or lacking product when it’s desired. Most inventory solutions track supplier data, purchases and sales numbers. By leveraging all of this inventory data in one business intelligence platform, users can ensure a business’ optimal inventory volume at all times.
Business Intelligence for IoT Machinery
Many supply chains are starting to implement smart machinery. The connected devices, or internet of things products, produce a massive amount of data. Companies will need to use business intelligence platforms to sift through the data for granular insight. The data created by IoT machinery can provide information on uptime so production can remain consistent. Essentially, the machine can alert businesses when they need to be repaired or require routine maintenance. This can help cut down on outages and ultimately maximize profitability.
These are just a few scenarios of how businesses can utilize business intelligence tools to help improve supply chain management by leveraging data. Many factors feed into a supply chain and each one creates unique data that can be molded into insights. Keep in mind, though, that business intelligence tools will not do the work independently. Users will need the efforts of data scientists and analysts to shape the raw data into actionable insights. Business intelligence solutions provide the first step into improving supply chain management.
Rob is a research principal focused on enterprise technology vendors and their continuous battle for market share in the age of digital transformation. Rob's work digs into competitive trends for enterprise giants, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM, among others. In addition, he highlights acquisitions, innovative product releases, and unique differentiators between enterprise vendors. He has been with G2 since 2015, and has shaped the direction of G2’s report and research offerings. While the enterprise is professional passion, in his free time Rob enjoys watching as many films as possible and even dabbles in some amateur screenwriting. His coverage areas include enterprise technology and strategy.