Big Data, the Pandemic, and Supply Chain Evolution

In a room with the faint odor of formaldehyde, your biology teacher has “Punctuated Equilibrium” underlined on the chalkboard and begins drawing branching charts jotting down a few bullet point call outs at the splits as they describe what really drives changes and innovation in supply chain operations: massive selection pressure from external events. Wait, what?

As a reminder to those of us who’s biology classes are now a distant memory, in a nutshell, punctuated equilibrium is the concept that most species (supply chains) stay static and relatively unchanged over time until rarely occurring, massive events (say, a pandemic) force rapid adaptation, resulting in speciation as previously extreme traits are more suited to the new normal. There is no doubt that the current pandemic is forcing a reckoning with our supply chains as CFOs, CEOs, and Boards are asking hard questions about resiliency and impact visibility while demanding blood from a stone when it comes to removing costs from our supply chain operations while maintaining service levels – supply chain diversification, network redesigns, and true digital twins are being contemplated and asked for in the name of resiliency, but how do we cut more from supply chains that have already been cut to the bone and then some while also transforming them at the same time?

To adapt to do even more with even less, the answer is almost rhetorical: make better use of data. Think of it almost like sabermetrics in baseball – the data had always been there, but hadn’t been truly leveraged effectively on a organization wide strategic level until Billy Beane and the Moneyball era, and then truly leveraged operationally during games until managers like Joe Maddon, Dave Roberts, and Joe Giradi started heavily relying on data for in-game decisions. Now discussion and usage of data analytics is commonplace in baseball. The pandemic has been a forcing function on this point – we’ve had big data for more than a decade, but leveraging it in supply chains seems to have only come to yearly planning functions, quarterly exercises, and monthly reviews, whereas the current environment is creating pressure to make it work in real-time both operationally and tactically on a day to day basis to get ahead of exceptions, improve resiliency, and shift strategy into a continuous function that utilizes real-time data to make resilient and cost saving decisions.

We’re being forced to adapt; we can evolve to make better operational use of our supply chain data, or we can become part of the fossil record. TransVoyant has been helping our customers create supply chain savings through better use of data by providing insights like understanding real-time lead times and variability to improve multiple types of scheduling, providing unbiased carrier scorecards to improve partner accountability, and leveraging external event data to predictively identify shipments and orders that require intervention to maintain service levels. These types of insights are just a sample of how we help our customers leverage data to reduce costs and improve outcomes. To discuss how we can help you, reach out, let’s talk.

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