Any supply chain and logistics business knows the value of more and better-quality data. It helps inform decisions and ensures that the action taken is in the right direction. But there is one step between collecting data and taking action—analytics. Analytics make it possible to gain valuable, practical insights. From real-time tracking to demand forecasting, there are numerous applications within supply chain operations. In this article, we’re looking at a few key applications, and the steps freight forwarders can take to implement powerful analytics capabilities most effectively.
Understanding the Power of Analytics in Freight Forwarding
Businesses cannot utilize the full potential of their data until that data has been analyzed. From analytics, they can understand patterns, correlations, and insights that aren't readily apparent. As freight forwarders help their customers manage global supply chains, including dealing with changing freight demands and logistical constraints, analytics provides an invaluable resource in this complex environment, enabling businesses to navigate challenges with greater precision and agility.
Analytics-informed decision-making brings opportunities for a range of benefits. Businesses can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction by providing reliable service. Analytics can also enable proactive risk management strategies by helping freight forwarders identify and address vulnerabilities in the supply chain. As long as businesses in the process of implementing analytics solutions know what they need and what challenges to watch for, like integrating different data sources and ensuring data quality, they can unlock a powerful channel of data informing continuous improvements.
Key Analytics Applications for Smarter Supply Chains
What are some specific ways freight forwarders can use analytics to help improve supply chain and logistics management? Visibility and tracking, demand forecasting, and predictive analytics are just three possible opportunities.
Real-Time Visibility and Tracking
As logistics professionals offer real-time visibility to meet customer demand, everyone benefits from greater supply chain transparency. This data can be analyzed for insight into performance metrics. Freight forwarders can learn which routes frequently experience delays, which carriers provide reliability, or what steps are most effective for responding to disruptions. Such insights can guide strategic decisions, improvements, and even contract negotiations to benefit the business.
Demand Forecasting and Optimization
With analytics, freight forwarders can better understand demand patterns and help their customers optimize freight transportation accordingly. This proactive approach not only can lead to reduced costs but can also ensure that products are delivered and available when their customers need them. The benefits come back to the forwarder in the form of greater trust and a reputation for improving supply chain efficiency.
A step beyond traditional data analysis, predictive analytics offers foresight into what might occur in the future. For freight forwarders, this means optimizing route planning and ensuring goods reach their destination most efficiently. Businesses can prepare for potential disruptions and manage risks by rerouting shipments or adjusting schedules for minimal impact on the customer.
Implementing Analytics Solutions in Freight Forwarding
Implementing any application of analytics technology requires a methodical approach, with the following four phases and steps being important to consider.
Phase 1: Assessing Data Requirements and Infrastructure
- Evaluate Data Needs and Readiness – Before diving into any analytics solution, businesses must assess what data they need, the types of sources, and the data quality. The better the organization understands its operational goals, the more successful the adopted technology can be.
- Understand Data Quality and Integration Needs – High-quality analytics relies on high-quality data—in other words, accurate, fast, and reliable data. Any potential technology solution should be evaluated for the quality of data it provides and its ability to be integrated with other systems to meet the business’s needs.
Phase 2: Choosing the Right Analytics Tools and Technologies
- Explore Different Analytics Solutions – With the operational goals as the foundation, it’s time to explore different solutions and applications of analytics technology and the benefits each can offer.
- Consider Selection Factors – Factors like scalability, ease of integration, user-friendliness, and cost-effectiveness must be weighed carefully with respect to the business’s priorities, constraints, and needs for implementation.
Phase 3: Overcoming Implementation Challenges
- Address Common Challenges – Obstacles often arise, but proactively recognizing the possible challenges can help the success and timeliness of the implementation.
- Consider Additional Strategies for Success – Pilot testing is a good way to identify and iron out issues. This phase can be used to fine-tune the system, train employees, and gather feedback. Continuous training sessions, providing support, and showcasing early wins can help build confidence and ensure smoother adoption.
Phase 4: Building a Data-Driven Culture for Lasting Success
- Foster a Data-Driven Mindset – Beyond implementation, using forward-thinking technology requires the company culture to match. Leadership should emphasize the value of data-driven decisions for everyday operations.
- Promote Data Literacy – To take advantage of the power of data analytics, it should be applied to roles across the organization. It is essential that employees are fully versed in how to use their new capabilities through workshops and training.
Experience Visibility-Driven Insights
Analytics offers a way for freight forwarders to navigate complex operations with greater agility by optimizing, predicting, and strategizing on a more informed level. VIZION provides visibility and analytics to elevate operations to this level.
Freight forwarders who get the industry’s most comprehensive, standardized, and detailed tracking events delivered in real-time to any system or spreadsheet can use this data for operational analytics at the container level, even getting insights into the performance of specific ports. They can better understand the factors and issues that have the potential to disrupt the service they provide their customers.
To learn more about the power of visibility VIZION provides, contact us today to schedule a demo.