For the past five years RateLinx has exhibited at the annual Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Conference & Exhibition. This year’s CSCMP was not only a great opportunity for us to network and meet potential clients; it served as a “state of the union” for the entire supply chain management industry. Because CSCMP brings together the best and brightest executives, technology providers, and thought leaders in supply chain for three days, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the current best practices in the industry – and get a view into what the future holds. The mix of the educational sessions and the exhibit floor allowed us to network while hearing firsthand about the latest trends and challenges in supply chain.

Supply Chain is the New Black

As the opening keynote speakers discussed, it’s now considered “cool” to be in supply chain. As we’ve been noticing over the last few years, many companies are turning their attention to their supply chain to gain a competitive advantage. Their main focus is on the data that they can acquire and how it can be used to make more strategic decisions.

I’ve long believed in the power of supply chain data and intelligence. Today’s supply chain and logistics managers increasingly recognize just how important this is. In fact, the single biggest barrier companies face today in managing their supply chains effectively and solving their logistics problems is obtaining the right data points to make decisions. You can’t use just one feed of data; you need to integrate data from many different points in order to have an accurate and complete picture of what is really going on in the supply chain.

I had a lot of very interesting conversations about how our data-first approach gives companies the data they need to create better supply chain strategies and practices. Our three-dimensional model of the RateLinx Enterprise System allowed us to explain how the data from multiple streams must be captured and integrated, BEFORE being used by the various software components.

Focus on Supply Chain Data, not Software

The best part of any conference is getting the chance to meet supply chain and logistics executives from a wide variety of companies to learn about their challenges and how RateLinx might be able to help. Every company that we met with talked about a project they had where they were going to deploy software to solve a problem. One of the biggest problems they had was building the business case to justify the budget required for the new software. In talking with each person and following our 3D approach, we were able to help them diagnose what they really needed: data.

We always started by asking them what problem they were going to solve by deploying the software. The answer was some variation of “to add efficiencies that will lead to savings.” Then the person talked about how once the software was fully deployed, which was typically 3-5 years from now, they would be in much better shape. We then asked why they needed to buy the software and it was to replace the existing software they bought 3-5 years ago. At this point some people realized that they were going to be in this endless cycle of replacing the software because once it is fully deployed, it is essentially out of date. That’s when we helped the person fully diagnose their issue and helped them realize that what they really needed was data, so they could develop the right strategy that has the correct scope for deployment. Most importantly, the scope had to be large enough to solve the problem, yet small enough to be deployed rapidly.

Fix the Problem with the Software You Have

As we so often discover in these conversations, the company may already have the right software tools. However, the data being used to fuel the programs wasn’t “premium” data, so it caused the software to appear to be deficient. This is why the RateLinx solution starts with data. The solution is extremely flexible, scalable and able to complement your current TMS. There’s no reason to buy something new when you can get the results you need with the software you already have.

If you’d like to speak with me about how RateLinx can help you tackle your biggest supply chain challenges by getting the data you need, send me an email and we will get the conversation started.

Published by Shannon Vaillancourt in Supply Chain Solutions Process

Shannon Vaillancourt

Shannon Vaillancourt

Shannon Vaillancourt is president and founder of RateLinx. He started the company in 2002 with the idea that there was a better way to give companies complete visibility to their supply chain. Since then, RateLinx has become a leading supply chain software and data services company with the only integrated Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) technology platform. RateLinx allows companies to gain access to the right data to create world-class logistics strategy, improve supply chain management, solve problems and reduce costs.


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