New Interest in Supply Chain Analytics
September 13, 2010
Editor’s note: This item originally appeared in LM’s sister publication, Supply Chain Management Review.
Supply chain analytics. What is it and why is it creating a bit of buzz these days?
I’ve been thinking about this because the topic has been coming up with greater frequency lately—in conferences I’ve attended, in press releases from technology providers, and in several proposed articles submitted to Supply Chain Management Review. So in supply chain terms anyway, analytics certainly qualifies as a “Critical (hot) Topic.”
First off, what is supply chain analytics? It’s essentially a subset of the broader business analytics, which is the process of collecting, storing, and analyzing data in a way that enables better business decisions. Supply chain analytics incorporates those same activities, but related specifically to supply chain data and decision making. Essentially, the analytics process enables you to use data in a way that enhances supply chain operations, customer and supplier relationships, and ultimately cost and revenue performance.
Not surprisingly, technology plays a huge role in analytics. Given the myriad data points typically available, even a smaller company would find it difficult to do supply chain analytics with largely manual techniques.
Speaking with Jerry O’Dwyer of Deloitte Consulting recently, he commented on the emergence of what he termed “advanced analytics”—supercharged supply chain analytics, if you will. Advanced analytics involves sometimes millions of data points, he explained, often gathered from multiple locations around the globe. The patterns, trends, and other insights revealed through this analysis aids decision-making across the full supply chain spectrum—plan, source, make, deliver, return.
Powerful technology solutions lie behind advanced analytics applications, added O’Dwyer, who heads up Deloitte’s Sourcing and Procurement Services practice. Then, of course there’s the human element. You need people with the technical and operational know-how to apply the data to real supply chain situations.
As to why, supply chain analytics is capturing more attention these days. In O’Dwyer’s view, it’s closely related to the economic upturn that is gradually (albeit sometimes haltingly) returning to most sectors. Companies have maxed out on the cost cutting activities. Now they are thinking about positioning themselves for the growth ahead. So how to make the right decisions in this regard? Supply chain analytics is a big part of the answer.
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