CHAPTER 8Fast Data

To run a protean supply chain, companies will have to connect the dots quickly, aligning demand swings with production and distribution. They will have to process demand signals, and then adjust their supply chain operations in response to nascent demands to ensure a steady flow of material and products from the supplier to the end user. To do that, companies will have to make data-driven decisions even faster than they do now using more types of information than they do now.

To make smart on-the-spot adjustments, companies running protean supply chains will have to take advantage of the latest software tools to analyze data in their supply chain operations in real time. Sure, existing analytical or business intelligence software can monitor and measure supply chain activities from production to distribution, from inventory to transportation. But analytics will have to do more than just measure and monitor for efficiency and accountability. Analytical software will have to be able to make connections. It will have to have the ability to spot problems in the making or to detect changes that can cause future problems. And the software will have to pull that information from various repositories of data throughout the supply chain.

Companies have been using analytics to appraise data and to get a better understanding of their business operations since after World War II. And logistics and supply chains have been one of the prime focus areas for the application of ...

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