Improving Business Visibility to Suppliers Overseas


Just because your company reaches countries around the world doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of your supplier network.

Technological advances have actually improved supply chain management.

However, with newer technology comes an influx of big data, and that has led to a number of challenges in businesses with many moving parts. 

In this article, we’ll look at what big data is and how managers are attempting to use it to optimize their supply chain.

What Is Big Data?

Big data is a constantly evolving term, but in general, the term refers to any combination of data volume (how much), data variety (what type), and data velocity (how fast it must be processed). Gartner goes a step further to say that big data encompasses the types of processing that allow us to glean insight and make decisions.


What Is Happening Today In Supply Chain Visibility?

Despite a deluge of data - which reportedly doubles every year - and despite supply chain visibility being a high priority in 2013, “few companies are actually deriving sustainable value from the supply chain data they are accumulating,” write Lisa Harrington and Toby Gooley. “Instead, they are struggling with how to ensure the quality of their data, how to analyze it, and how to make practical use of what they learn from it.”

One current practical use of big data for visibility in the supply chain relates to logistics. Manufacturers use sensors to track when supplies enter and products exit a factory. The author notes that manufacturers could move beyond simple tracking with sensors to understand and address issues at the supplier’s factory.


What Might Big Data’s Impact On The Supply Chain Look Like In The Future?

Full visibility is moving up as a priority among supply chain managers, and only 6 percent of firms report having it.

TechTarget suggests that big data will help you know when you’ll get goods, which is even better than knowing where they are. “That's becoming more likely as internet of things (IoT) and sensor data increasingly combine with machine learning and other next-generation analytics that provide predictive logistics to help manufacturers go far beyond visibility of supply chains.”

KPMG also suggests the application of big data analytics would create more accurate production and scheduling by revealing “increased visibility of inventory levels, demand, and manufacturing capacity.”

The GEODIS report linked to earlier goes on to predict that improvements in end-to-end business visibility could lead to:

  • A closer collaboration with partners and a reduction in disputes
  • Better risk anticipation
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • An extended degree of control overprocesses
  • Elevated customer satisfaction
  • Higher profitability

Big data has all the potential in the world to provide business visibility for supply chain managers. This is a critical area that is ripe for innovation right now, and the top performers will be sure to take advantage.

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