Forming the Crux of Supply Chain Operations: Business Intelligence in Action Delving into BI and What it Means for Supply Chains Today

supply chain

Business intelligence can mean a number of things for different people and organizations. So, what really is Business Intelligence? According to Gartner, business intelligence is an umbrella term that includes the applications, infrastructure, tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance. To cull down to what this means, business intelligence is nothing but making sense of data around you.

There are humongous data points that are floating in the digital world. Companies, in their databases, have figures about demand, customers, profits, brand value, inventory levels, seasonal changes, and so much more. These data points are useless unless they get converted into actionable information. For this very purpose, business intelligence and analytics comes into the picture. BI transforms hordes of seemingly unfathomable data into invaluable insights that can push your business to reach unmatched competitive advantage and higher profits.

Now let’s look at Business Intelligence from specifically the supply chain perspective

Supply chain, being the ultimate bridge between the brand and the customer, is one of the most important functions in any business. Getting your supply chain and logistics operations right is absolutely critical to building a successful brand and business. The supply chain consists of some functions, many linear and several others cross-functional. The company on a continual basis needs to interact with suppliers and on-board high-quality raw material at the right price. It needs to ensure manufacturing is done within budgets, and at strategically placed sites. Products then need to be transferred to warehouses and from these warehouses; they are further delivered to retail shops, wholesalers or the final consumer. This end-to-end process, right from procurement of raw material to converting it into the finished product and finally ensuring on time delivery to the final consumer is a highly complicated process, involving communication, coordination, interaction, and participation of some players. As the business expands, this process becomes more onerous, as companies need to not only deal with suppliers and other stakeholders but because of a variety of government rules, regulations and policies come into.

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The right technology to handhold your business

At every single step, it’s crucial to understand what your business needs at any given point in time. In order to grow, it needs a direction where it should head. Business already has access to huge amounts of data related to customers, markets, inventories, manufactures, suppliers and all stakeholders in the supply chain. By using advanced analytics and business intelligence methodologies, businesses can transform these data points into invaluable information. Thanks to business intelligence, they can now understand the optimum amount of raw material to purchase or the right amount of inventory to store in warehouses. It can, through predictive analysis delve into consumer behavior and gauge demand, taking into consideration some factors such as competition or seasons. Business intelligence becomes a guide, more so, handholding your business towards the right track.

Presentation of complicated information in a digestible manner is one of the challenges that business intelligence overcomes. Business intelligence reports are easy to scan through. Thanks to the score-card format, managers can get a bird’s eye view of supply chain elements like inventory, transportation, acceptance/rejection rate and much more, and at a glance get insights into metrics and all well the business is performing. With real-time dashboards, management can get a quick overview of what is happening in the various parts of the supply chain. All this information is in real time, thus enabling managers to gauge situations and take quick actions and decisions. For example, if the customer has not received the product on time and delivery is pending, this gets highlighted in the dashboard. Thus, business intelligence generates information and also presents it in a way that the concerned department can quickly identify the issue and take corrective action.

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 Not using BI is like shooting in the dark

BI cuts across all levels of the business pyramid: strategic decision making at the top of the organization, tactical in the middle and operational, right at the base. The business can thrive, thanks to business intelligence as the latter digs deep into otherwise untapped data and presents a broader, wider, and deeper view of the enterprise. Business intelligence tools and technologies are bound to reach impressive growth as they form the basis of decision making in supply chain services and solutions.

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