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Supply Chain Panel Explores How to Leverage Data for Tangible Results

This is part one in a series of posts recapping our closing session at in.sight, ““Digital Transformation: Using Data to Maximize Supply Chain Efficiency”

At last month’s in.sight user conference + expo, we closed our event with an engaging panel discussion with industry thought leaders on how to use data to maximize supply chain efficiency.

“It doesn’t matter how good your data analytics is, it’s what you do with the data that makes most value,” said Dean Croke, chief insight officer at FreightWaves, who moderated the panel. “It’s the insight that you create…if put in the right context it can be very transformational.”

These opening remarks set the tone for the 90-minute event, which included supply chain leaders who discussed how their organizations are using data to drive an increase in efficiencies, safety and performance.

Harnessing data is not just about getting numbers on a spreadsheet, it is about getting interactive, dynamic data to drive improved decisions.

“It is not just about reporting any more, it is about marrying data from all your different data sources,” said Darren Levine, vice president of information technology for Contrans. “We are pulling it all together and we’re developing applications so it’s not just a tool for one business unit now.”

 

As part of making data more usable for the broader organization, it is also about ensuring that these solutions are adopted by the right individuals. This includes:

1. Making it More than an IT Initiative

“Its hugely important for me that we aren’t making any initiative an IT-specific initiative,” said Cliff Dixon, chief information officer for Quality Distribution. “[It is] a company initiative and that everybody is bought into its success.”

 

2. Providing Context Into What the Data Means

Preventing the concept of “data” from being siloed is also about partnering data scientists with operations leaders to gain context into what the data actually means, Croke added.

 “Unless you can make that connection with someone in operations, the technology will ultimately fail.”

 

3. Having a Project Champion to Push the Initiative Forward

“My experience has been that if you don’t start at the C-level first, any technology is destined to have trouble,” said Croke. “If we didn’t get the blessing of the CEO, we were wasting our time largely when it came to implementing any technology.”

Bob Goldberg, principal at BG Transport Services, countered that while most trucking companies “are not that large to think of themselves C-level” there is a definite need to have someone who understands and champions a technology initiative to avoid it becoming “the flavor of the month.”

We will continue to provide recaps of this panel discussion in the coming weeks, including exploring how data is being applied to solve specific industry challenges, as well as sharing panelists’ thoughts on where the future of data adoption is headed.