Logistics Technologies That Promise to Reshape Supply Chains in 2022—Business Intelligence (BI)

Key Takeaways:

  • BI can make data-driven decision-making a standard operating business process.
  • BI can help take businesses to the next level of operating efficiency.
  • BI can set the stage for further developing predictive capabilities/analytics.
  • BI can future-proof businesses keeping them ahead of the rapid pace of technological change.
  • BI can improve competitive advantage by facilitating agility and resilience

It’s a topsy-turvy world. The past two years have been difficult, demanding and distressing for supply chains. This year, the war, spiraling inflation, and China’s lingering Covid problems are affecting supply chains.

We are living in a time of chaos. Black Swan events (pandemics, wars, etc.) used to happen infrequently. They had a low probability of occurring.  Now, they seem to be occurring as a rule, rather than an exception.

Businesses and their supply chains are transforming. That transformation was already underway in pre-pandemic times. The pandemic served as a catalyst to speed technological transformation.

The transformation has taken on greater urgency, and this year’s challenges are further accelerating transformation.

Many businesses view transformation, especially technology, as disruptive. Shippers, 3PLs, and consumers all want to see supply chains settle down. They want to see disruptions become the exception, an outlier, rather than the rule. That desire is more than hope. It’s a real possibility with the adoption of BI.

This post will discuss how BI can disrupt the factors disrupting supply chains. One disruptive technology—BI—shows promise that it can help your business now.

BI, properly employed, can improve operations, reduce costs, and boost customer service.

Let’s analyze how BI can future-proof your business and mitigate risk.

Before analyzing BI, let’s define it. Here’s how CIO defines BI.

“Business intelligence (BI) leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. BI tools access and analyze data sets and present analytical findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts and maps to provide users with detailed intelligence about the state of the business.

The term business intelligence often also refers to a range of tools that provide quick, easy-to-digest access to insights about an organization’s current state, based on available data.” (Emphasis is mine.)

That’s a lengthy and detailed definition, which we can refer to throughout this blog post. One unstated, but implied, key point is that BI relies on historical data. That differs from and is often confused with business analytics.

According to CIO, business analytics is about looking forward using, “… data mining, modeling, and machine learning to answer ‘why’ something happened and predict what might happen in the future.”

With those definitions, we can now focus on how BI is reshaping supply chains in 2022.

#1 Improve operations. BI capabilities are conducive to streamlining business processes. For example, BI can optimize transportation and warehouse business processes. Doing so will lead to better, faster, cheaper results. Using historical data, BI enables the analysis of past performance. And that will inform decisions about how to reduce cycle and delivery times and how to better serve customers.

As your business operations improve, financial benefits will follow from new data-informed insights.

#2 Improve return on investment (ROI). Optimizing your business operations will likely lead to improved cost-effectiveness. BI can facilitate financial analysis that goes beyond the cost-effectiveness that comes from business process optimization.

In using historical financial data, BI can also help you achieve a more efficient ROI. BI can facilitate analysis that goes beyond business process optimization. Optimizing inventories, for example, can help cut inventory costs by holding only the amount needed.

Another area where you can leverage BI is in enhancing customer service and engagement.

#3 Improve customer service. Customer-centric planning has replaced cost-cutting as a strategic imperative. In today’s and tomorrow’s world, you must anticipate customer needs. BI supports that as it allows you to make decisions informed by data, rather than assumptions.

Improving customer satisfaction also means enhancing customer engagement. BI can help you do that with a deeper analysis of customer behavior. Gaining deeper insights into customer behavior can lead to improved engagement.

We’ve shown the tactical impacts of BI. But BI also has a strategic impact as it can improve your competitive edge.

#4 Improve competitive edge. As your BI usage becomes more relevant and more advanced, you can achieve a competitive edge. As you get beyond periodic reports or even ad hoc reports, BI can help you analyze trends. That has a predictive effect at the enterprise level, making BI a useful strategic tool. With this capability, you can make decisions about the future of your business. One already mentioned is anticipating your customers’ needs.

A wider-based, strategic use of BI is setting the basis for data-based decision-making.

#5 Achieve data-based decision-making. At the top of this post, we cited some of the major disruptive events challenging supply chains. Today’s disruptions suggest markets will likely continue to face struggles and shocks. By now, you should see how BI can help ease those disruptions.

When you apply BI in a systematic manner, you can diminish or eliminate supply chain risks. But you don’t have to confine yourself to playing defense. You can also play offense by implementing continuous improvement informed by data-based insights.

Over time, your supply chain will become better at meeting your customers’ needs. Your business will move closer and closer to achieving effectiveness and efficiency.

The Future of Business Intelligence

The future of BI is here. BI capabilities for logistics exist today that you can leverage to your advantage. BI will continue to evolve. It will likely blend with business analytics and offer predictive capabilities. IT vendors are already working to augment existing capabilities that generate more value.

You can expect to see BI’s future continue to reshape supply chains. The changes are likely to occur gradually, but their impact will be transformational. Here are three (3) ways BI will shape the future.

  1. BI will drive your move to data-based decision-making and minimize anecdotal decision-making.
  2. BI will become the norm, creating demand for data scientists and BI analysts.
  3. BI will facilitate predictive analytics. That will enable shippers to anticipate customers’ needs. And that will lead to greater agility, responsiveness, and resilience.

Overall, BI will continue to evolve so that it becomes integral to logistics planning and execution. It will become an essential, if not a central, element of supply chain management.

Decision-making will be faster. Decisions and their actions will be more accurate and anticipatory. And logistics operations will be more cost effective and customer-oriented.

The future of BI also assumes you have a trained workforce. As BI becomes more advanced, you must hire and re-train employees to fill new positions.

BI will create new jobs for business intelligence analysts and data scientists. Hence, recruiting and retention a talented and technical workforce is critical.

What Will Your Next Steps Be?

This is a time of extraordinary change. We’re transitioning to a data-first world, and data-based

decision-making is the wave of the future. It’s the way ahead if you want to create a nimble and robust supply chain.

BI can help to transform logistics and supply chain management. BI is not a distant transformative capability. It’s available today. And it’s available at the perfect time. That’s because its capabilities address today’s volatility and uncertainty.

Planning for improved supply chain operations will set you apart from your competitors. So will executing more streamlined and reliable operations.

In moving to data-driven decisions, you will boost your competitive advantage. BI is a game-changer.

You can ride out today’s disruptions on your own… or you can work with an agile and resilient partner. At American Global Logistics, we embrace data-based decision-making. We understand the needs of future supply chains to run on data.

Contact us if you’re interested in taking your business to the next level. We can help you achieve an agile and resilient supply chain. We’re standing by to hear from you.