It takes a lot of data to make a good decision. And for decision making within the supply chain, big data can provide insights for companies and enable them to make better decisions.

Big data is defined as extremely large datasets, structured and unstructured, that reveal patterns, trends and correlations. It can provide valuable insights in the context of the supply chain that can be used to proactively anticipate or quickly respond to disruptions or events. However, despite the hype around big data, using insights from these large datasets to optimize the supply chain has proven to be far more elusive than collecting the data itself.

Most organizations recognize the value and importance of big data, but become overwhelmed and struggle with proper implementation. Big data isn’t just about collecting information, but the ability to do something with it to solve a specific problem. It’s extremely critical to make the proper investment and to really understand the data in order to see potential new opportunities, how to achieve them and if they’re sustainable and efficient, before investing large amounts into data science resources.

Third party logistics (3PL) providers are starting to become more effective with how they leverage big data within the supply chain and are beginning to create more value by dedicating resources and building partnerships with technology providers and academia institutions. In addition to providing better visibility and enabling smarter decisions, leveraging big data can be differentiating value-adds to the services they provide to their customers. Some logistics providers dedicate a team skilled in data science to provide insights to their customers related to inventory management, distribution center positioning or strategic asset investment. They do this especially to support seasonal demand promotions, new product launches or market expansion. The data is there, so it’s about making the investment to monetize them.

Before you decide what you’re looking to pursue from a data science perspective, you need to first identify the biggest opportunities within your existing dataset or the data you’re lacking. I recommend checking with technology vendors, such as JDA Labs, your peers and local universities, that have already invested and “been there, done that.” Doing so will help you draw your own points of view and make sure you invest your capital the right way.

Big data can provide significant benefits to the supply chain and help organizations survive and grow. By properly implementing big data, organizations will continue in a new efficiency and will remain competitive, more streamlined, responsive and proactive to supply chain disruptions. To learn more about how JDA can help, contact us today.

Read the full blog post, which was originally featured in Transportation & Logistics International Magazine.