Data in Business
Data has become indispensable across all industries. It is used in the form of facts, figures, and information stored in databases. Big data, in particular, is used in everyday life, whether in shopping, navigation, energy consumption, or entertainment. In business, for example, data is used to run large-scale operations. Entrepreneur Aimee Tariq explains that companies use data to track each stage of a selling procedure to have an overview of the inefficiencies that lead to bottlenecks. This process, in effect, allows businesses to scale up quickly.
Supply chain management, in particular, relies on data to increase the resiliency of their industry. In today’s retail environment, where the supply chain is king, the use of data is vital to a company’s success. Data plays a significant role in the planning and development of supplies, and companies use data to optimize inventory and correctly fulfill orders.
Beyond that, data collection, management, and analysis apply to nearly every industry, from medicine and energy to education and advertising. Despite being relatively new, data science has already cemented itself as an essential career field. This is why the demand for data science specialists, like data analysts and computer system analysts, is continuously growing. These professionals help companies make solid evidence-based decisions that follow the latest trends and are responsive to the needs of their clients.
More specifically, the supply chain industry counts on data science specialists to seize market opportunities and make stable investments. These specialists construct new systems to improve a company’s operations. They also create innovative solutions to unique problems presented by new technology. Because of the extensive use of data, data science careers are expected to grow exponentially. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information analyst positions are currently around 33,000 while data scientist openings are projected to grow at a rate of 27.9% until 2026.
The use of data in business continues to evolve, so the career opportunities in data science will also expand. The work of data science specialists becomes especially important when supply chains reach a roadblock and disruptions affect the exchange of goods and services worldwide.
Supply Chain Disruptions in Recent Years
The supply chain is critical to the global consumption of goods and services. It involves the process of manufacturing, transportation, and logistics to get products delivered to companies and consumers who use them. Unfortunately, the past few years saw rampant disruptions across the supply chain.
Politically-induced restrictions, natural disasters, and the threat of disease lengthened the distance between suppliers and consumers. Essential resources such as food, medicine, technology, and industrial equipment became even more difficult to deliver to their intended destinations. Higher taxes and tariffs had importers and exporters scrambling to restructure their systems.
As a result, products piled up in ports and warehouses. In 2021, the New York Times reported on an intense shortage of shipping containers, which drove up the cost of moving cargo. They cited the cost of sending a container from Shanghai to Los Angeles as an example. Before 2020, that journey cost around $2,000 but skyrocketed to $25,000 in early 2021. This caused a price hike in essential commodities and a shortage of manufactured products.
The Role of Data in Supply Chain Disruptions
The challenges we discussed earlier prove that automation and efficiency are not one-stop solutions for supply chain problems. The systems put in place were made in the context of global stability. What businesses need to work on is the ability to respond to crises quickly and more accurately.
Businesses can achieve this by utilizing data to make smarter decisions, predict impending disruptions, and measure the possible effects on their operations. By doing this, they can design innovative contingency plans and avoid huge margins of losses.
Here are three ways that businesses utilize data to address supply chain disruptions:
Data Helps Track Inventory
A successful business knows how to anticipate demand while maintaining the minimum levels of stocks. Doing so requires the processing of past sales and balancing product availability. Through the help of data analytics, inventory management is now more efficient, and being able to forecast future demands has become a valuable tool for companies. Businesses with massive databases can manage their stock, sales, and returns with fewer margins of error.
Data Helps Assess Vulnerabilities
Assessing vulnerabilities beforehand is a way to protect businesses against risk. Taking a more proactive approach to addressing the supply chain’s weaknesses requires using data. Several frameworks have been developed in recent years to assess supply chain vulnerability (SCV), but their common denominator is their extensive use of data.
A recent study used large-scale data collection to determine the factors that cause SCV. The study found that transportation bottlenecks, political uncertainties, and natural disasters as the most common causes of vulnerabilities. Determining these elements will help generate more conscious management processes that can absorb and raise caution about the risks within a supply chain system.
Data Helps Collect Real-Time Insights
Traditionally, businesses only used data to track orders and sales through point-of-sale systems. Now it is being supplemented with real-time news and weather forecasts. An Oxford Economics survey of 1,000 supply chain executives found that 49% of them can capture real-time data insights and respond to them immediately. Their application of these insights ranges from large-scale disruptions to individual customer grievances.
Seeing in real-time which materials, products, and customers will be affected by supply disruptions can increase the resilience of the supply chain and allow for alternative arrangements
How Shipedge Keeps the Supply Chain Fluid and Competitive
When disruptions start at the warehouse level, businesses can expect a domino effect that hits all aspects of the supply chain. That being said, a warehouse management system (WMS) is the perfect response to this kind of obstruction and keeps the supply chain fluid and competitive. A WMS is essential to an inventory-dependent industry such as e-commerce. We use data to automate and simplify a WMS and minimize roadblocks that expose vulnerabilities in the supply chain.
Shipedge’s WMS has features that are crucial to inventory-dependent businesses. E-commerce sellers, for example, can enjoy real-time inventory visibility and warehouse mapping. Shipedge provides a built-in labor management solution that pushes down labor costs while driving up productivity and reducing human error. Our data allows businesses to scale up sustainability and exceed their customers’ expectations.
Discover how our WMS can improve your business
The use of data has been changing the landscape of supply chain management over the past few decades. Although wide-scale disruptions are inevitable, companies can certainly take advantage of data to approach these challenges systematically.
Written by Raelyn Dillon for Shipedge.com