Big Data Presents Opportunities for the Supply Chain, but are Organizations Taking Advantage of It?

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Big data analytics has a number of applications within the supply chain. Yet there is still some lag in adoption of solutions that help mine through the wealth of information that can lead to an increase supply chain visibility, reduce business risks and other benefits. Recent research has shown while the majority of companies understand the opportunities big data presents, fewer are actually implementing analytic capabilities and integrating these tools into supply chain functions.

Benefits of Big Data

A recent survey of nearly 1,200 professionals around the globe conducted by DNV GL, a risk management company, showed 52% of participants believe big data presents an emerging opportunity for businesses. Additionally, 65% of participants see big data playing a significant role in the future and 76% plan to maintain or increase big data investments.

These professionals also point to the many benefits of big data, including increased efficiency (reported by 23%), financial savings (11%), better decision making (16%) and improved customer experience and engagement (16%), to name a few.

Despite the benefits and possibilities big data presents, just 23% of survey participants have a clear strategy for capitalizing on big data, according to the survey.

Moving Toward Digitization, Slowly

Applying big data analytics can be part of an overall digitization process for an organization — a process that is also gaining ground. A recent JDA Software Group report showed the majority of supply chain professionals are either putting some emphasis on digitizing their supply chain or making it a major initiative.

Another report on digitization released by KPMG looked at how companies were implementing digital technology including data analytics. The report showed only 10% of companies surveyed are developing or supporting digital channels. And, only a quarter of organizations have “tightly” integrated their digital efforts into their overall corporate strategies. There’s hope, though — 44% said they expect their companies to be “highly advanced digital enterprises” in the next three years.

Accenture, too, has demonstrated there is an interest in big data analytics and the value it adds to a business. A recent survey of more than 1,000 senior executives showed 97% understand how big data analytics can benefit their supply chain, but far less have actually taken the steps to use analytic technology. Just 17% of survey respondents said they have implemented analytics in one or more supply chain functions.

These numbers are likely to increase as companies become more comfortable with advanced technologies such as big data analytics that allows them to make better business decisions and create more resilient supply chains. In the years ahead, big data will also no doubt be a key player in supply chain risk management, helping companies understand their risks, gain visibility and remain compliant.

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