Big data can translate into big profits for your business. But, much like a new language, you need to put effort into understanding the numbers or else they won’t mean much at all.
That is exactly what a growing number of companies are doing. According to a 2012 SAS-MIT survey, with 2,500 respondents from over 20 industries, more than two thirds indicated that they are using analytics to improve overall performance.
But with so many processes that need improvement using the masses of available data, it can be tough to figure out where to focus first. Good starting points across a range of industries that offer high potential in the near term are: visualising delivery routes, pinpointing future demand and simplifying distribution networks.
Before you can focus into these areas, you need to learn how to get the numbers talking your language. “The ultimate goal is to convert the mass of unstructured data into useful analytics that help to improve service, reduce costs, improve inventory management and increase profits,” says BASF senior manager for SC Capability Development, Alan Millken.
Milliken will present his workshop entitled Transforming Big Data into Supply Chain Analytics at the SAPICS 2015* conference, taking place from 31 May - 2 June at Sun City.
So what exactly does it take to transform the masses of available supply chain-related data to business intelligence including analytics?
Step one is data mining: the process of extracting information from a data set and transforming it into a usable structure, supports analytics. “With today’s software, it is possible for this process to be fully automatic using algorithms supported by advanced statistics, math and software programmes,” says Milliken. “Or, if you prefer, the mining process can be interactive and driven by the end user.”
According to Milliken, online analytical processing (OLAP) of multi-dimensional data cubes - like customer, location and sales – can be integrated into advanced planning software to enable reporting. This way it can also support the aggregation, drilling-down and slicing and dicing of the data. “Operationally, it is also possible for users to develop their own custom analytics,” he says. For example, deploying end user-defined filters or rules to find exceptions to a given rule. “The data-mining tool may be programmed to do cluster analysis, detect anomalies in the data, or apply association rules,” he says.
All of the above may seem like Greek to some, but Milliken assures that with perseverance, the numbers start making sense. “My upcoming presentation at SAPICS 2015 is about sharing the journey – because that is what it is - to becoming an ‘analytics practitioner’,” he says.
The presentation will start by focusing on the more narrow definition of the terms ‘analytics’ and ‘data mining’ in supply chain management. “We will employ practical supply chain examples of structuring data to support reporting, data mining and analysis, as well as how to use descriptive analytics, for example reports, KPIs, and dashboards, to report performance, determine what happened, why it happened and plan for change.”
The presentation will also cover how to use predictive analytics to improve such processes as forecasting, customer relationship management and inventory control, as well as how to build basic decision models that use decision logic or business rules to optimize outputs. “Participants will leave prepared to improve the use of big data at their firm,” he says.
In a related presentation on supply chain data, Inventory Optimisation Systems Manager for UTi, Hannari van Gend, will demonstrate how data visualisation software can be used to help drive improvements across an organisation’s supply chains.
“We will use real life examples to show how improvements were realised, while sharing the process that was followed from software selection through to implementation,” says van Gend about her workshop entitled: Data Visualisation – Monitoring Your Supply Chain’s Pulse. “We will also cover the main challenges and benefits that have been experienced.”
Want to find out more? Catch Milliken and Van Gend at SAPICS 2015.
For more information on the 37th Annual SAPICS Conference & Exhibition, being held at Sun City from 31 May – 2 June 2015, please visit www.sapics.org.za.
MEDIA CONTACT: Cathlen Fourie, 012 644 2833, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.atthatpoint.co.za
For more information on SAPICS please visit:
LinkedIn: SAPICS group
ABOUT SAPICS – your supply chain network
SAPICS is a professional knowledge-based association that enables individuals and organisations to improve business performance. SAPICS builds operations management excellence in individuals and enterprises through superior education and training, internationally recognised certifications, comprehensive resources and a countrywide network of accomplished industry professionals. This network is ever expanding and now includes associates in other African countries.
APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management and the premier provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate end-to-end supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience. APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designations set the industry standard. With over 37,000 members and more than 250 international partners, APICS is transforming the way people do business, drive growth and reach global customers. APICS is based in the USA and has a broad global footprint.
About Alan Milliken
CPIM, CIRM, CFPIM, CSCP, CPF
Alan Milliken is a Senior Manager on the Supply Chain Capability Development Team at BASF, the world’s leading chemical company. Prior to accepting this global assignment, Alan was a manager assigned to the Business Process Education Team at BASF Corporation in North America. He previously served as a Business Process Consultant at BASF for 14 years. During that time he supported several business re-engineering projects, three major acquisitions and many small projects. He received the Chairman’s Gold award for his work on a major acquisition.
Alan has been an APICS instructor since 1995. He teaches all CPIM courses and CSCP. In addition to teaching at BASF his external clients include INTEL, Tiffan Company, Lucent Technologies, Allied Signal, Gulfstream Airplanes, Fuji Film, Standard Furniture and others.
About Hannari van Gend
Hannari Van Gend is an Inventory Optimization Systems Manager at UTi and leads a team of System Specialists within the SDi division of UTi. She is a multifaceted manager with experience in logistics and inventory optimization across several industries and companies. She holds a Computer Science Diploma from CTI and is a qualified SCOR® practitioner.
UTi SDi currently provides an Inventory Optimization service to clients in the Automotive, Pharmaceutical, Chemical, Manufacturing and Retail industries. SDi Africa have also completed projects with a number of high profile international companies across several industries and are the Inventory Optimization centre of excellence for UTi’s clients globally.