Top 3 uses for big data in the supply chain


You’ve heard it before: Big data is integral for successful, efficient supply chain operation. But how, exactly, does that work? Organizations are diving into their data sets and coming up from the deep with key insights to apply to their operations, making it clear that big data has an important role to play in any industry. From food and beverage distribution to high tech, companies are incorporating analytics.

What are the real, tangible benefits that big data can bring to the supply chain? Let’s take a look:

1. Traceability

Being able to pinpoint where products are in the supply chain is critical. Therefore, making sure items are traceable is key to a successful operation. By using barcode scanners and attaching radio frequency identification devices to certain products, supply chain managers can aggregate the data required to create this kind of traceability.

Nowhere is this more important than in the food and beverage distribution industry. According to TechRepublic contributor Mary Shacklett, food traceability efforts are bolstered by the Internet of Things and big data analytics. Companies within this industry have to follow strict government regulations in order to avoid hefty fines, and having the data on their side helps operators stay on top of their distribution cycle. For instance, it’s easier to know when food will spoil and at what point in the supply chain it’s likely to be contaminated.

“The end-to-end tracking and traceability that sensors and barcodes provide enable store chains, food brands and goods supply networks to quickly identify points of origin and distribution if it’s discovered that food is contaminated,” Shacklett wrote. “This facilitates rapid mitigation of a situation.”

The Internet of Things and big data analytics will play a huge role in the supply chain of the future.The Internet of Things and big data analytics will play a huge role in the supply chain of the future.


2. Relationship management

It’s not news that the C-suite thinks that big data is worth the investment. According to SCM World’s report, 64 percent of supply chain executives think big data is an important and disruptive technology. One of the biggest reasons big data is worth the investment is that it can help companies provide better service to customers and improve relationships across the board. When every stop in the supply chain has access to the correct customer information, there’s a greater chance of fulfilling demand and fixing any problems that arise in distribution. Not to mention that in addition to learning what their customers want, companies can also use big data to better understand their vendors, as well.

3. Forecasting

Smart Data Collective contributor Larry Alton noted that big data sets are especially useful when applied toward predicting what customers want – and when they want it. With accurate forecasting, which can take place when organizations look back at previous transactions throughout their supply chains, companies can improve profitability and better predict consumer demand, not to mention reduce supply chain waste.

“While 100 percent accurate forecasting is still not feasible, access to big data is making it more of a reality than ever before,” Alton wrote. “Advanced organizations are using this data to better predict customer needs and preferences, while simultaneously accounting for external factors in the marketplace. The result is more satisfied customers and fewer lost sales.”

Traceability, relationship management and forecasting are all integral parts of supply chain and operations management, and big data is a driving force behind these activities. For more information about how big data is changing the way we think about the supply chain and how analytics could be leveraged for business success, get in touch with the experts at Inspirage today.

Hemanth Holla

Hemanth Holla | Key Contributor

Hemanth Holla is a Senior Principal Consultant for the Supply Chain Management practice at Inspirage. He has 13 years of experience in developing Oracle Solutions & implementing Oracle Applications in the Supply Chain domain. He has experience in business transformation across Industrial Manufacturing & High-Tech Manufacturing verticals.