CSCMP Recap: Actionable Data is Big Data that Tells a Story

This is the fourth year RateLinx has had a presence at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) annual conference. CSCMP is a great conference for us to network with our peers in supply chain and attend educational sessions to hear what’s going on in the industry.

Actionable Data is Big Data that Tells a Story

The two opening session speakers were great this year. The Monday session, Big Data and Storytelling with Matthew Luhn of Pixar Studios, was very entertaining as he shared how to tell a good story. I liked it because with all the data we have, the challenge is making it actionable which can be likened to making sure it tells a good story. This is actually at the core of how RateLinx collaborates with our customers to solve their most persistent logistics problems: allowing the data to tell the story of what is really happening in the supply chain so the appropriate actions can be taken.

The Tuesday session, The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Logistics with Professor Mary Cummings from Duke University, had great information about AI. We’ve been reading and hearing about driverless cars for a few years now, and after the Tuesday session, it’s clear to me that the technology is not ready. I’m curious to see what happens over the next few years to see if the technology can catch up to where it needs to be to make driverless cars safe.

Making the Business Case for Big Data and Improved Visibility

There were lots of sessions about big data and visibility. The challenge with big data is companies know they want it, but can’t determine the value. The value piece seems to be holding some companies back from implementing a solution that will leverage all the data that is accessible now. The main discussion around visibility was the various uses of visibility and the value it can bring to a company. In fact, the most common problem attendees were asking us was how we can help them create the business case to show the value of leveraging the data and having visibility.

Making the business case for the value of data and visibility is an area that we are uniquely positioned to help companies with. It starts with asking good questions and listening. This is how we collaborate with our customer to make sure they are getting the value out of leveraging the data to gain visibility.

Quantifying the Value of Visibility

Here is a good example of how we helped a company quantify the value of visibility. About 5 years ago we helped a customer get real-time tracking of their shipments. Our customer was receiving phone calls from their customers wanting to know the arrival time for their orders. The calls were received by a centralized call center responsible for providing customer service so the logistics group didn’t know the true cost of these phone calls. Our first step was to collaborate with our customer to map out the calling process.

We identified each person within their company who was involved in answering the ‘When will my order arrive? question. After mapping it out, defining each person involved and the amount of time it takes to answer the question, we found there was more than $2,000,000 per year in internal costs spent on this question.

We then showed our customer how RateLinx Intelligent Invoice Management’ (IIM) can connect to the GPS units on the trucks and then combine this feed with their shipment, order and item information to provide a quick and easy view of where all of their trucks are. Now when the ‘When will my order arrive? question is asked, it takes a few seconds to look up the order on the Dashboard and receive an ETA on the order’s arrival. Because all of this information is integrated in real-time, the company can implement a self-service portal to find the arrival time of an order. Their customer can sign up to receive real-time tracking alerts via text message or email (once an order is enroute and is one hour from being delivered) or they can leverage the RateLinx mobile app and receive push notifications.

Next Year, Next Steps

If you would like to make the business case for your organization on the value of big data and visibility, just send me an email. We are also signed up for CSCMP 2018 in Nashville, but that is a long time to wait to learn how you can leverage big data to save lots of money.