Big Data is not a new term. It’s been around for a couple years now, but still businesses are intimidated by the term: Why? Forbes defines Big Data as “data that is too big, moves too fast or doesn’t fit the structures of a database architecture.” Right, that does seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Every supply chain has Big Data. The question is, what to do with it?
According to the 2014 18th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study produced by Dr. C. John Langley and Capgemini Consulting, “Only 8% of shippers and 5% of 3PLs surveyed have implemented Big Data initiatives involving the supply chain.” In a different survey conducted by eyefortransport, “84% of executives working in supply chain or logistics think that Big Data will have a significant impact on their company.” If this is the case, why haven’t more organizations implemented Big Data?
For some organizations the hold up is because there is a huge IT gap. With the amount of data coming in it’s hard to gather and interpret the data, but there is some software to help relieve the headache of understanding Big Data:
- Apache Hadoop: Wikipedia defines Hadoop as, “an open-source software framework for distributed storage and distributed processing of Big Data on clusters of commodity hardware. Its Hadoop Distributed File Sytem (HDFS) splits files into large blocks and distributes the blocks amongst the nodes in the cluster.”
- NoSQL (Not-only SQL) Databases: a mechanism for storage and retrieval of data that is more flexible in structure compared to relational databases.
- Complex Event Processing (CEP) Technologies: a method of tracking and analyzing streams of real-time data, and make decision based on that analysis.
Although, the IT gap is a major reason why companies are not jumping on the Big Data Bus, another reason is that they can’t see the value in it yet. They may know it’s important, but really, what can Big Data do for a supply chain? The article 5 Ways Big Data Can Help Retail Supply Chains on PracticalEcommerce.com highlights five ways Big Data can enhance supply chain processes:
Real-Time Delivery Management: Big Data helps improve the tracking and delivery of shipped goods by enabling real-time delivery management that can determine the exact time of delivery by analyzing weather, traffic and truck location feeds.
- Improved Order Picking: Big Data allows for analysis of information from multiple sources like shipment orders, inventory, warehouse layout and past picking times, which can provide solutions to optimize the picking process.
- Better Vendor Management: Big Data allows for real-time management by reviewing vendor performance against a set of key performance indicators, which can include vendor profitability, on-time, customer feedback and complaints.
- Automated Product Sourcing: Big Data allows a real-time view of the product demand, product sales, sourcing process, purchase history, product lead times and other factors that influence the sale and storing of a product.
- Personalized Supply Chain: Big Data can be used to determine how customers are using or will utilize a product based on interactions across the media.
It’s obvious that Big Data isn’t going anywhere. It’s time to close the IT gap and start utilizing the information available!