Swimming in the Data vs. Sinking in the Data

11 Sep Swimming in the Data vs. Sinking in the Data

IBM states that every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data.  Just to put that amount of data into perspective, one quintillion is 10 to the 18th power.  Doing some simple math, and assuming 5,000 companies generate that data evenly, we can guestimate that the average company generates 500,000,000,000,000 bytes of data.  Such numbers demonstrate an incredible magnitude of information which can be swam through for organizations to make sense of – making business decisions.  Diving into such an enormous amount of information can be a daunting challenge; here are three things to keep in mind when looking at making business sense from enormous amounts of data.

Shallow Dive Analytics.  This aspect really says it – it is hard to sink when you are staying shallow.   Sometimes it is ok to be shallow. The principle of “less is more” needs to be taken into consideration and it is imperative they we focus supply chain executives and knowledge workers on the key set of metrics which provides high-level insight and directions on the areas which need a deeper dive.  There is no sense of taking a deep dive without first skimming the surface to determine where to go deep.

Real Intelligence. Swimming, just like chasing down issues which impact supply chain performance can be a very resource intensive task.  Sometimes the rewards are worth the effort.  However, an issue which hurts organizations is acting on the wrong items.  What are the key performance indicators which truly affect performance?  How can these KPIs be affected?  If I improve a metric, does it truly impact another metric?  Real intelligence is not simple “roll-up or roll down analytics”; real intelligence is understanding and assessing which KPIs can be affected by change and by how much those KPIs can be affected.  Such KPIs are called Indirect KPIs – KPIs, which correlate to other KPIs not directly, rolled up or rolled down.  By providing correlating KPIs, organizations leverage real intelligence to connect the dots.

Real Time.  The use of real-time business intelligence can have a strong impact on supply chain performance.  However, taking a current analytics and metrics program and simply increasing velocity and frequency of updates can cause a drain on computational and organization resources.  A redesign of a metrics program may be required to truly understand which metrics can benefit the organization and if the organization has capacity to manage to real-time metrics.  Taking some metrics from days to hours (in terms of refreshing the metrics) can impact supply chain performance, but only if the information can be acted upon.  A key element of a redesign is to reduce the metrics to a more shallow level, thus providing supply chain teams with the ability to accept, review and act on such metrics.

Like any business topic, making sense from such large amounts of information can include many more factors.  However, the above three are the key issues we review when providing an analytical solution to improve supply chain performance.