Big Data Remains Common Theme at NASCES 16 & Parcel Forum 16
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending both the North American Supply Chain Executive Summit (NASCES) 16 at The Westin Chicago North Shore and the Parcel Forum 16 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas. These events are vital for me to attend each year in order to check the pulse of the industry, examine current trends and learn from leaders in the industry.
While each conference has a different focus, both addressed the overall theme of leveraging big data to provide better service and streamline freight strategies.
I find the one-on-one meetings are a great way to talk with supply chain executives and find out what their goals are and what challenges they are facing. Having 20 minutes with an executive may not be enough to solve any problems, but it’s enough to get a conversation started and this year we met with some interesting folks
These conversations revealed that some larger, more well-known companies have been exploring cognitive analytics to predict where inventory needs to be, particularly. (Cognitive analytics relies on data mining and other cognitive uses of data to develop business intelligence.) This is especially big on the retail side. We talked to a couple of executives that had done some work on this and it was fascinating to hear how accurate the models can be when you’re able to feed it with good data.
In my 4th year, Parcel Forum continues to be a must-attend show for us. Over the years we’ve seen the focus shift towards visibility and strategies. Many shippers are searching for visibility to their packages as they are being shipped by third parties. This visibility is becoming more and more crucial to customer service; everyone wants to know exactly where their shipment is all the time. This type of real-time visibility is starting to cross over to LTL shipments as well. I was surprised to talk with so many shippers that are looking for this visibility with their LTL shipments as well as parcel.
I also spoke with many shippers about how the regional parcel carriers can aid in their strategies. The regional parcel carriers are becoming more sophisticated in the services they offer as well as the technology that can be leveraged to deliver the real-time tracking information.
The Take Away
My biggest takeaway from both conferences was that companies are leveraging data more and more. The data that we collect for customers through Intelligent Invoice Management (IIM) is valuable in many ways. It can tell a company in real-time whether or not they are executing on their strategies the most efficiently, and it can be part of a much bigger picture where the data is matched up to orders to help identify ordering patterns, etc. I think IIM really hits the mark on delivering what many of the shippers are looking for when incorporating big data into their operations. Combined with ShipLinx TMS, a company can have all of the tools it needs to view and execute on their strategy.