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Solving Supply Chain Challenges Through Data Fusion

Richard Baker, CEO of GeoSpock

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in supply chain disruption making headlines. As a country that relies heavily on its imports, Singapore is experiencing mass disruption to global supply chains. While the government has recognised that maintaining the country’s stockpile is a “dynamic task that requires constant watch over the fluid global supply landscape[1],” there is no denial that supply chain operators are taking a reactive approach to this escalating situation.

Singapore’s mature eCommerce market is leading the region, thanks to high internet penetration rates of 88 per cent and with 95 per cent of the population owning a smartphone. With consumers demanding instant gratification, the current pandemic is a sobering reminder of just how much we, as a society, are relying on ‘just-in-time’ delivery – and how we all enjoy the convenience of ordering things we need online and having it delivered to our door, often the next day.

Identifying, analysing and streamlining the supply chain is one way to help companies respond more quickly to these unprecedented changes while boosting operational efficiency. By leveraging location and contextual intelligence, companies can mitigate challenges created by COVID-19, especially in the case where supply chains are being disrupted.

Unlocking growth opportunities in the supply chain

In order to better meet customer demands and improve brand competitiveness, companies should pay more attention to their overall supply chain strategy. According to a report from Accenture[2], more than 75 per cent of companies are missing growth opportunities in the supply chain, and only a small number of forward-thinking companies are realising the unique growth opportunities their supply chains offer.

The report also highlighted three areas where supply chain leaders are making smart moves – digital investments, customer centricity and ecosystems. These focus areas can enable businesses to shift their supply chain strategy from driving cost efficiencies to powering growth opportunities and achieving competitive agility.

However, the supply chain is so much more than just providing raw materials to meet a manufacturer’s production schedule or fulfilling an online shopping order by delivering a package. In order to successfully digitise one’s supply chain, businesses need to infuse intelligence throughout their supply chain and operating model to tailor their product and services for their customers.

Uncovering consumer insights from data

Digitising one’s supply chain requires a “big picture” approach to the overall supply chain strategy. To begin with, companies need to truly improve their understanding of what factors influence and impact consumer demand and deliveries.

There are vast quantities of events being generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) devices every single day. All this data holds more than the promise of never missing a delivery – it has the potential to add up to a genuine transformation for the logistics industry. From ships and cargo containers to trucks, delivery vans and individual packages, the data generated has enabled us to be given a two-hour delivery window for the latest gadget bought online and shipped halfway around the world.

For instance, during the ever-popular English Premier League (EPL) season, analysing data from previous EPL seasons can reveal valuable insights into likely consumer behaviour during the current season. This could be anything from an increase in demand for widescreen TVs from fans keen to follow the action at home, to a spike in late-night online food deliveries.

Another example is if the weather forecast is predicting rain, this information can be combined with traffic data to identify potential traffic hotspots. These new insights can then be used to alert delivery drivers to potential road diversions or to help schedulers plan alternative delivery routes and timetables.

The analysis of individual delivery vehicle movements could also pinpoint duplication of activity where too many drivers are in a given area. As a result, the data analysed can help improve the efficiency of delivery network planning. Capturing package delivery data, feeding it into logistics tracking systems and analysing the data over time to spot trends can also help delivery companies predict parcel volumes and more efficiently match their capacity to expected delivery demands.

Different driver routes could also be analysed to give the average time and distance between drop-offs, and the dwell time at each stop – valuable information for supply chain analysis of driver routes. In combination with other inputs – such as customer commit times, pick-up windows and special delivery needs – the logistics tracking system could then calculate the optimal route to minimise costs for the delivery company and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Real-time route optimisation offers further scope for customers to specify delivery times during the day.

The dawn of a new era

In the current technology landscape, data generated from every aspect of the supply chain remains very much siloed, without a central pool of data that the industry as a whole can tap into. GeoSpock’s mission is to reinvent how big data is organised, and our goal is to fuse these data siloes and make all data available for rapid and cost-effective querying.

For different sectors to work together in the above scenarios, a more efficient and data-intelligent system is required in which data is shared across land, sea, air operations, and even the telecoms industry.

By fusing datasets and enabling advanced and precise analytics to reveal an accurate picture of the entire supply chain, along with vital predictions of factors likely to affect it, supply chain processes could be greatly improved with increased efficiencies as a result.

Data is the glue holding this integrated operation together. Armed with insights, companies at every step of the way along the supply chain can be better prepared and therefore act smarter. They can more accurately predict demand and produce the right products, at the right time – for delivery to customers wherever they are and whenever they want them.

It’s why we’re predicting the dawn of a new era for the logistics industry.

 

[1] https://www.mti.gov.sg/Newsroom/Parliamentary-Replies/2020/04/Oral-reply-to-PQ-on-supply-disruptions-from-COVID

[2] https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/more-than-three-quarters-of-companies-are-missing-growth-opportunities-in-the-supply-chain-according-to-a-new-accenture-report.htm

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Richard Baker serves a Chief Executive Officer of GeoSpock. He joined GeoSpock with 25 years of experience in the technology sector to build the next great business to emerge from the Cambridge technology cluster. Prior to this, Richard ran his own successful start-up and has experience across four different industries.

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