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Data and the Supply Chain: What is a Data Warehouse and Why is it Important in Supply Chain Management?

Few factors affect the quality and success of supply chains more than the use of Big Data and supply chain management platforms. According to Bernard Marr of Forbes magazine, data and the use of analytics in the supply chain are now a fundamental, driving force in modern supply chains. Today’s systems generate more data in a day than all the data created prior to the turn of the 21st century. It’s like a proverbial gold mine, and Warehouse Managers need to understand a few things about the role of data and the supply chain effects that it will catalyze.

The Problem: Using Data and Supply Chain Analytics Are in Infancy

Analytics are a novel way of using information to make data-based decisions and improve supply chain processes. Unfortunately, the concept of using data and supply chain analytics remains in infancy. Seasoned supply chain analysts and engineers can drive insights, and although today’s systems are quickly gaining advanced analytics capabilities, small and midsized Warehouse Managers may not understand how to take advantage of the data the supply chain uses. Paired with the introduction of a new term, a data warehouse, the concept grows even more confusing.

 

As explained by Microsoft, a data warehouse is similar to the warehouse of the supply chain. It contains thousands of individual products, organized in a way where the data can be accessed and applied. For the modern warehouse, a data warehouse refers to the data repository, which is the source material used to drive actionable insights through analytics.

The Solution: Integrated Data Warehouses Reduce Inconsistencies

The ultimate benefit of analytics is process improvement, and such improvements may extend throughout the entire supply chain. Taken in consideration with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, improvements through data analytics are being generated by more than just internal company processes. Customer behaviors and actions that involve Internet-enabled systems and devices such as smartphones, smart appliances, and mobile devices contribute to the global data warehouse. Cloud computing technology and advanced analytics platforms can leverage this data warehouse to enact real-time changes, as well as prescribe the best course of action to produce a desired outcome or benefits to a company. In other words, the level of integration between these systems is key to generating actionable insights.

The Reward: How to Use a Data Warehouse to Boost Profitability in Four Steps

Consider the amount of information stored in data warehouses. Each piece of information could hold the key to unlocking correlations with other data points. As a result, decisions made based on analytics and information within the data warehouse can be used to improve profitability. However, the road to improving profitability through data warehousing is not clear, so Warehouse Managers should follow these best practices in moving toward the use and application of analytics and data warehousing:

  1. Take advantage of cloud-based technology like internet-enabled sensors and devices, which can be used to collect and store data automatically. In addition, cloud-based technology is generally easier to integrate with existing and new systems.
  2. Make sure the data warehouse is accessible through dashboarding tools, allowing Warehouse Managers and employees to immediately access key insights that affect their job duties.
  3. Eliminate paper-based systems where possible. Paper-based systems, although necessary in some cases, can almost be entirely replaced by digital systems, which allows for the continuous collection and analysis of information. This also serves to reduce risk in the warehouse, saving money.
  4. Leverage external resources and experts to enhance the data warehouse, which may include the review of existing systems and migration to new systems.

Let Data and the Supply Chain Become One

How Warehouse Managers use data and supply chain systems is evolving. Warehouse Managers need to understand how a data warehouse relates to everyday operations and its impact on supply chain management. Bringing disparate systems and processes together and using analytics to capture insights from an overarching platform can have lasting impact throughout the supply chain. As explained by Supply Chain 24/7, this could reduce processing time, improve customer service, predict potential disruptions to supply chain management and more. Data are the low hanging fruit of supply chain management.

Veridian can help you realize your supply chain success. Fill out the contact information below in order to schedule a consultation call with one of our supply chain professionals.