Paving the Path to Increased Visibility

Cloud-based TMS software provides tools needed to achieve transportation optimization

Visibility Blog Series #2

*This post is part 2 of a 3-part series exploring the topic of visibility.
At the heart of achieving real-time visibility is data. It’s the constant flow of data from multiple, connected systems that provides clear visibility into the status of active shipments. Of course, that’s when the right systems are tracking the right information. At the same time, historical data allows us to see patterns in past shipments – transport times, arrival times, delays, etc… Looking forward, systems will be able to analyze vast amounts of data and help logistics teams plan for tomorrow, not just manage today.
According to a recent study by The Hackett Group, 66 percent of supply chain leaders say advanced supply chain analytics will be critically important to their supply chain operations in the next 2 to 3 years. And, predictive is a top-5 priority for supply chain, according to the 2017 Geodis Supply Chain Worldwide Survey.
Today, many transportation operations are relying on historical data to inform decisions, but often the data isn’t being analyzed for future improvements. The logistics industry is on the verge of leaping forward beyond descriptive and diagnostics intelligence, which can show what happened and why it happened, and into the promise of predictive to automatically adjust behavior to achieve desired outcomes.
Can Predictive Unlock New Levels of Visibility?
When the process is working well, all the data captured across the supply chain is continually streaming back to the organization’s transportation management system (TMS). Like all data management, unlocking it and making better use of it requires a powerful set of tools.
“An unprecedented amount of information is available in logistics today and contains immense potential for deriving insights that aid transportation planning,” said Monica Wooden, Co-Founder of MercuryGate International. “With the application of predictive models to generate forward-looking insights, much can be done to optimize business decisions. However, not every organization knows how to implement it.”
As Ms. Wooden suggests, predictive analytics may just hold the promise of breaking through what once was thought to be the entirely unpredictable nature of logistics. The potential for risk is often hard to anticipate, or is it? Scientists today are able to predict with a much higher degree of accuracy the frequency and power of storms, earthquakes, wildfires, and other natural phenomenon. Perhaps less predictable are the human-driven disruptions – trade wars, computer hacks, labor disputes, and road collapses.
With the right process and tools, logistics operations can use predictive analytics to estimate more accurate arrival times, which will support more efficient supply chains and increase customer satisfaction levels. When disruptions do occur, systems will automatically adjust to re-route shipments through the best possible path.
Two Not-So-Bold Predictions for Predictive
The first prediction is that we will never have a crystal ball to provide 100 percent certainty of events to come. However, predictive will provide a much higher degree of certainty for impending events based on past data, powerful algorithms, and machine learning. Predictive will help harness demand patterns, capacity levels, product tracking, transportation performance, and product-return activity, according to The Hackett Group study.
And, a second not-so-bold prediction, the early adopters of predictive will have a greater competitive advantage than those who lag behind. If nothing else, history has taught us that those with the greatest amount of information, knowledge, and insight will win at a higher rate than those who rely on outdated methods. The science of the supply chain is a long game, and those with the most advanced tools will come out ahead.
A Glimpse into the Future
Something that is perhaps easier to predict with a great amount of certainty is that the desire for greater visibility will continue to drive the evolution of technology. Systems will get faster at sifting through greater amounts of data, organizing and storing it, and then identify potential issues and how to potentially overcome them. And, automation will increase as systems become increasingly intelligent, leading to more efficiency and lower costs.
What do you see coming for visibility?
This blog post is the second in a three-part series on Supply Chain Visibility. The first post focused on understanding the concept of visibility. In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at how to Secure Your Supply Chain by Closing Critical Visibility Gaps.

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