Every supply chain creates a mountain of data – making it one of the most fertile areas for the application of analytics. Yet, the majority of companies have been slow to embrace the potential of supply chain analytics. At OpenText™, we decided to find out why. The result is OpenText Trading Grid Analytics – launched this April. Let me explain how we got here.
Analytics one of the hottest areas in the technology sphere today. Executives understand the benefits that advanced analytics can bring to almost every aspect of their business. This is particularly true in the supply chain. Research in 2017 found that 66% of supply chain leaders thought that analytics would be critically important supply chain operations in the next two to three years.
In its report ‘Unlocking the Value of Your Supply Chain through Embedded Analytics’, IDC states: “It is the view of IDC that the best supply chains will be those that have the ability to quickly analyze large amounts of disparate data and disseminate business insights to decision makers in real time or close to real time… Analytics really will be the backbone of the future of the supply chain”.
However, progress has been slow. Commenting on its own research survey, MIT Sloan Management Review said “Only a handful of companies have developed an ability to react quickly to supply chain signals. Despite analytical advances, many companies still do not fully understand the sources of their competitive advantage, even though they now have more data than ever about their operations”.
Why has supply chain analytics adoption been slow?
At OpenText, we have an analytics option as part of our Trading Grid B2B integration platform and, in truth, our experience matches MIT Sloan’s findings. Although companies had the capabilities, few deployed them throughout their supply chain to drive actionable insight. It was clear we needed a greater understanding of what was going on. What happened next was a major customer consultation processes and a lot of work to feed that back into our supply chain analytics solution.
The major finding of our work with customers was the essential requirement to tie analytics capabilities intimately to domain and business knowledge. For the potential of supply chain analytics to be realized, it takes a thorough understanding of the key business processes and their effect on the bottom line of the company. Any analytics solution has to be able to deliver the right information for every stage of the process. The user needs to be able to instantly view the entire process and identify the analytics for the stage they are currently at.
In other words, you need access to analytics that drive action.
Interestingly, the MIT Sloan research asked a similar question and one respondent said that analytics without domain knowledge will lead organizations to ‘end up with nothing more than fun and interesting facts’.
While aligning analytics to the business activities of supply chain professionals was seen as the most important aspect of a supply chain analytics solution, three other elements were also vital: data quality, speed of insight and ease-of-use.
Delivering quality data for quality decisions
MIT Sloan found that most of the common obstacles to successful supply chain analytics revolved around data. Inaccurate data (42%), the unavailability of data (31%) and the lack of timely data (30%) topped the list. Delivering reliable and accurate data is clearly essential for effective supply chain analytics. Embedding analytics into a B2B Integration network has the advantage of accessing all the data within the transactions passing through the network.
While not 100% perfect, B2B integration networks – like OpenText Trading Grid – have capabilities to enhance data quality and integrity. This is the reason that IDC says ‘the key differentiator for any analytics application will be to have its engine embedded within the business process and transaction flows’. That is exactly what we’ve done with OpenText Trading Grid Analytics.
With a B2B integration network, business processes are automated and you can begin to gain insight into all supply chain transactions. OpenText Trading Grid Analytics provides a powerful Cloud-based approach that is embedded within the OpenText Trading Grid to analyze the vast amounts of transaction information flowing across the network. Embedding analytics into the transaction flows provides complete visibility and deeper insights into what is going on across your end-to-end supply chain.
This new generation of supply chain analytics includes multiple transaction types and also supports multiple EDI formats. By delivering the analytics solution as a Cloud-based platform, we have been able to create a ‘data lake’ that will accept data from a wide range of sources beyond the OpenText Trading Grid to deliver a new depth of insight into supply chain operations.
Why the speed of insight is everything
Traditional approaches to supply chain analytics have focused around historical data. The time taken to derive insight from that data and then take the appropriate actions is simply too long for the dynamic environment of the modern supply chain. The MIT Sloan research suggested that less than 25% of companies can respond immediately to insights from supply chain analytics.
OpenText Trading Grid Analytics delivers rapid insight by analyzing and correlating transactional data across the network. Data can be regularly transferred to the analytics platform to ensure that you have near real-time visibility. This is achieved without the supply chain team having to wait for the IT department to build a data warehouse or run reports.
Leading through ease of use
When talking with customers, ease of use was emphasized time and again. Supply chain professionals want to be presented with only the data that they needed in a way that was simple for they to understand and use. They wanted to have a simple, customizable dashboard that gave them top level insight at a glance and let them drill down into the data as they required.
More importantly, the supply chain managers that we worked with spoke about the highly repeatable nature of many of their day-to-day tasks. OpenText Trading Grid Analytics addresses these requirements in several innovative ways:
- The analytics platform is split between buy side and supply side analytics. You can easily switch between the two.
- Transactions that may require attention, such as those missing order acknowledgements or missing advance ship notification are highlighted and easily accessed.
- Predictive metrics for orders likely to be delivered late (buy side) and invoices likely to be paid late (sell side) are readily available.
- The analytics platform contains a series of predefined buy side and sell side metrics designed specifically to support key supply chain tasks
In addition to multiple out of the box metrics, OpenText Trading Grid Analytics provides custom analytics capabilities. Using the Cloud-based platform, these capabilities can be quickly designed and implemented to your exact requirements via OpenText Managed Services.
IDC believes that ‘the best supply chains will be those that have the ability to quickly analyze large amounts of disparate data and disseminate business insights to decision makers in real time or close to real time’. OpenText Trading Grid Analytics is a major step forward in making this vision a reality.
We’ll be discussing how analytics can drive the modern supply chain at this year’s Enterprise World in July.