Intelligent Visibility in Supply Chain Analytics

Technology has transformed our vantage point for supply chain operations. Technologies that support ops in the supply chain, as well as in transportation and logistics companies, have both zoom-out and zoom-in features. When built the right way, system-generated data, collected and interpreted over time, can provide an incredible picture that informs strategic decision-making, forecasting, areas of focus, optimizations, and more.

Maturing to a place of intelligent visibility in supply chain analytics is a powerful position, and one that can be achieved through various tech-fueled tactics. Read on to learn all about it.

At Trax, we support companies on the road to freight audit and transportation spend management maturity. Arriving at an advanced state of adoption and value is the goal of implementing new technology today. Organizations that have already bought in have gained a competitive foothold in the market, but it’s never too late to begin, improve, and advance progress. Connect with the team at Trax to get on a trajectory of growth, as soon as today.


Digital Supply Chain

The idea of a “digital supply chain” is a new media term primarily related to tracking the lifecycle of goods, end-to-end. Beyond physical tracking, it uses technology such as algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and big data sets to view historical and real-time data which can inform predictive modeling.

The goal of digitization in this context is to create full transparency into every stage of the supply chain. This works out in the real world in a few ways:

  • Providing a real-time feed of progress, inefficiencies, holdups, issues, or risks
  • Real-time progress reporting on every stakeholder along the supply chain
  • Streamlining business processes
  • Bringing clarity and visibility to leaders in the finance function
  • Apt, shareable visualization of procedures, supply network lanes, processes, etc.

In 2016, analysts at McKinsey articulated the idea of a next-generation digital supply chain as “Supply Chain 4.0,” stating that the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced robotics, and advanced analytics of big data would be transformational for the industry. They were right, and most companies in this field are improving performance through enhanced networking, ongoing analysis, and workflow automations.

Used tactically, a digital supply chain may simply mean a visualization of the traditional supply chain, a practice known as “digital twinning.”


Creating a Digital Twin

Digital twinning is not a concept exclusive to the supply chain. At MIT, digital twins at scale are proposed as the best way to make predictive virtual models a standard practice for aeronautics and astronautics.

Creating a digital twin provides unique diagnosis, analysis, responsiveness, and feedback capabilities. The illustration used by the writers at MIT is this: if a delivery drone suffers damage in flight, should it carry on or reroute? A digital twin of the same drone on a virtual, comparable flight path can generate the right data to make the right decision.

Zooming out to systems as vast as those as in the supply chain, the complexity increases but the fundamental principles remain the same. Recreating a business in a virtual environment sends up data signals that can be interpreted and used to pivot, reroute, reallocate finances, shift focus, or stay the course, depending on what’s best. These decisions don’t have to be tried in the real world, where the stakes are immeasurably higher. They can be tested in virtual environments, where risk is non-existent, and the winning moves made on the ground.

The ingredient that makes all of this possible is data, and good data will be clean, accurate, and reliable.


Structural vs. Dynamic Data

Data is not just a quantity game. The need for quality in data being used to inform decisions cannot be overstated. Nor can the fact that data needs to be cross-checked, compared, and aggregated from a variety of reliable sources to present the fullest possible picture.

Data from one sector is informed by or could impact data from another sector. A weather pattern here and government unrest there may add up to something important for a leader in the supply chain. Connecting those two dots is a job only technology can do.

The interrelation of structural data (the data that exists, as it is, and provides framework and context) and dynamic data (new waves of information from a variety of sources) can rarely be observed for meaning by a human.

“What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” is a salient colloquialism here, the saying simply meaning that things that appear to be very unrelated may in fact have a direct impact on each other. 

Technology is capable of covering vast bodies of structured and dynamic data from all types of data sets, including market conditions or fluctuations, weather, travel patterns, government shifts or announcements, international regulatory environments, and much more. The sum of all of these findings may yield insights that create new possibilities for proactive course-correction or problem avoidance.

Advanced analytics unlock these insights in a timely fashion, making them both meaningful and actionable.

Trax’s freight audit and payment solution enables advanced data compliance and analytics across all invoices, shipments, and rates, giving leaders at global enterprises the visibility they need to drive better business decisions in real-time. Read more here.


Supply Chain Visibility Delivers Resilience

Building a digital twin, leveraging advanced analytics, creating intelligent visibility: it is all important. But for supply chain companies in this moment in history, subject to ongoing disruption, what are the real and present benefits?

In a word: resilience.

The ability to maintain operations, even grow, in this or any market condition is the best possible outcome of intelligent visibility and the other technologies described here. Far from being “nice to have” exercises to enhance operations, these tech solutions are becoming essential for growth-minded companies.

The pace of the market — including the rate of change in production, buying behaviors, regulations, and more — have surpassed what your team of data scientists or analysts can keep up with. Technology is available to accelerate progress, and adopting it is the intelligent thing to do.


Trax: Providing Freight Audit, Transportation Spend Management, and Intelligent Visibility

At Trax, we’ve long supported companies on a journey toward freight audit and transportation spend management maturity, a goal only arrived at through the right use of data and tech-enabled visibility. To learn more about how we support companies all around the world, arming you with the right tech for what’s next, contact us today.

Up next: Interested in the impact of data on supply chain? Read Supply Chain Efficiency & Data Analytics

Trax Technologies

Trax Technologies

Trax is the global leader in Transportation Spend Management solutions. We partner with the most global and complex brands to drive meaningful optimizations and savings through industry-leading technology solutions and world-class advisory services. With the largest global footprint spanning North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe, we enable our clients to have greater control over their transportation performance and spend. Our focus is on your success.