What Will the Future Hold? A Continued and Increasing Reliance on Data

May 7th, 2020

This article is by Jesse Cugliotta and originally appeared on the Qlik Blog here: https://blog.qlik.com/what-will-the-future-hold-a-continued-and-increasing-reliance-on-data


Data is Key to the Success of Any Enterprise

One major trend that sticks out is the growing realization that data is and will be key to the success of any enterprise, large or small, over the next decade. This sounds almost too obvious to state. After all, we should remember that the terms that are often used to discuss and define data’s importance have only increased their currency, frequency of use and recognizability. How could we talk about how crucial data is without speaking of Business Intelligence, Big Data, Self-Service Analytics, Machine Learning, AI and Data Literacy? Although the terms themselves might feel like buzzwords, the reality they underscore is still very real: Organizations are finding tangible, measurable value by building a data-driven, decision-making culture.

There is nowhere that this is more true than in Supply Chain. For years, demand, supply and production planners have been using elements, such as historical sales data, order data, POS data and on-hand inventory levels, to improve forecasting, inventory deployment and production schedule adherence. However, we must not let history and tradition slide us into complacency.

Data Without Boundaries

No longer are we bound to the data that lives inside the boundaries of our ERP tool or data warehouse. For example, a number of innovations have been introduced that leverage connected technologies – making it faster, simpler and, in many cases, automated for consumers to purchase products. Amazon made a big splash with its Dash Button – where users can literally press a button to re-order coffee, laundry detergent, diapers or any other consumer product when they are running low on supplies. Voice-enabled devices, such as the Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo or Google Home, have made shopping as simple as a spoken command. Walmart has a unique approach, combining a voice-enabled interface with a shopping assistant that learns your product variant preferences and even helps with gift ideas for special events like birthdays.

However, technology innovation is not just making things more convenient for consumers but for supply chain operators, too. With the advent of automated devices on the factory floor, in the warehouse and the slow march toward acceptance of things like drone delivery, today’s supply chains are a stark contrast from those even 10 years ago. Not only are the technologies in the below graph revolutionizing processes and creating an extremely competitive marketplace, but they’re also creating a flood of new data sources that we haven’t really had to consider in the past, along with prompting us to think about how to improve data use.

Needing a Consolidated View of Data

Perhaps, more importantly, most organizations today use a number of best-of-breed solutions in their supply chains, which do not integrate as seamlessly as we’d like. I’m sure many of you are regularly reporting using a variety of tools (e.g., ERP tools, Transportation and Warehouse Management systems) and data sources, including those of suppliers and downstream retailers. And, despite the technological innovation of the past decade, one of the top challenges – for many supply chain leaders and operators alike – is simply getting a consolidated view of their data ecosystem.

Qlik’s Sweet Spot

This scenario is a sweet spot for Qlik. One of our hallmarks is helping our customers bring multiple data sources together, simultaneously, enabling a comprehensive analysis. This analysis could include everything from an executive scorecard, detailed demand forecasting and planning, inventory deployment, supplier performance, warehouse management, as well as transportation planning or returns and repairs. Companies like Quooker use Qlik to mitigate risks in availability, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction.

“We have calculated that since we are in better control of our entire supply chain flow, we save at least €50.000 per year by preventing outdated parts, production stops, delivery stops or quality issues.”- Geertjan Woltjes, COO at Quooker

Alfa Laval used Qlik to improve profitability. It achieved a 70 percent reduction in lead time, reducing capital outlays by 20 percent.

“Qlik let us introduce new processes for sales and operations planning and inventory control, letting us significantly shorten lead times and create a platform for future growth.” – Michael Tydén, Vice President of Operations, Alfa Laval

So, as you continue to move into 2020, think about the business value of implementing change in your supply chain. Think about how leveraging the right data and analytics could inspire the adoption of that change, be an enabler of growth and lead to the creation of a data-driven culture – in short, how data and analytics could transform your business.