Modern technology keeps us all connected 24×7, giving most of us the ability to be hyper-responsive to our clients. So isn’t it about time we had a ‘real-time supply chain,’ too?

Some supply chain industry experts say this is possible now, with the multitude of available cloud data management tools and increased adoption of new supply chain software platforms. However, many also acknowledge that the necessary foundation for bringing real-time speed to the supply chain is through analytics, and finding people who know how to make the available data both accurate and accessible is still a challenge.

What are supply chain analytics?

Data analytics, in general, is the science of examining raw data to help draw conclusions about information. Many companies use it to make better business decisions, and in the last few years we’ve seen an increased interest in analytics—partly because of the increased availability of data from various sources such as enterprise resource planning systems and the big data that’s coming from the Internet, e-commerce, sensors and RFID tags.

In the context of supply chain, analytics can be used to make better decisions in each stage across the entire chain, such as assessing inventory levels and likely product fulfillment needs, identifying potential order backlog issues and staying on top of critical A/R and DSO issues.

Why is it important?

It provides a huge competitive advantage for many companies, allowing them not only to understand what their business is doing, but to come up with new solutions and ideas for where they’re going.

 So why isn’t everyone doing it?

Proponents say that real-time supply chain support tools will address issues like supply chain traceability, multilevel inventory optimization, demand signal repository, sales and operations planning and leveraging point-of-sale data.  And hundreds of supply chain executives, when polled, said that demand and supply forecasting and planning tools will be very important in 2014.

However, supply chain analytics are still in the early stages of development at many companies, and will take time to build out. Upgrades and new tool implementation take time. It’s not going to be easy to move batch systems into a real-time environment.

And, of course, finding the people who can go out and aggregate supply chain data, look at trends in that data and present it back to the user in a way that’s understandable is going to be a challenge at first.

Luckily, specialty recruiting firms like ZDA Supply Chain Recruiting can help! With our knowledge of the supply chain industry and our focus on keeping up with what’s happening in the industry, we know how to find the people with the skills you need. When you’re ready to learn more about supply chain analytics and how it can help your company, contact ZDA!