Insight-Powered Supply Chains [VIDEO]

Written by Chris McClincy
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4 minute read

What happens when knowledge, cause, and effect get together? They converge and produce insights for the attentive observer.

The ability to capture knowledge as data has never been stronger and continues to improve. Technology continues to advance, enabling the ability to draw greater meaning from data and driving the opportunity to execute effective change.

A virtuous cycle yields insights when properly cared for; however, leaders and practitioners for supply chain, logistics, and transportation consistently encounter challenges with achieving satisfactory success. Planning, optimization, visibility, exception management, innovation, transformation, and others are relevant topics, especially right now. What are the steps to take to gain stronger yields from our collective knowledge? Let's take a look at a few areas that can help.

Knowledge and truth are not the same thing. This plays out in logistics, the same way it does in the court of public opinion. The quality of information and data is important to create a basis of trustworthy knowledge. An essential first step is to interrogate the integrity of knowledge, data sources, and their validity. There is a natural tendency for erosion in information integrity as knowledge transfers across parties. Similar to the way a story evolves as it is passed along from one person to another, once you cross Bacon's law, the story has changed quite a bit.

Strive for simplicity, reduce complexity and intermediaries, challenge and examine data sources and contributors sufficiently to achieve an adequate level of truth in valuable knowledge. This first step is instrumental in achieving successful insights. It is a step that many visual intelligence and analytical solutions providers will gloss over in an attempt to sell tools; however, it is an imperative first step.

Supply chain is a language unto itself with many dialects. We should not assume that one's definition of a shipment is consistent with others. Interpretation of knowledge and data is fundamental to unlocking value.

A second step in achieving valuable insights is to harmonize and connect definitions across your supply chain sources or understand their interpreted differences. Success can be achieved by focusing on the essential elements and taking a consolidated and simplified approach to begin with. Promote and elevate to greater complexity as you achieve success.

Imagine working with a dozen different people from different parts of the world who have unique native languages, using English to build a bridge. Ensuring that each person has a shared understanding of the basic meaning of critical items will ensure a successful bridge gets built. As construction develops, the ability to enhance and refine that bridge and its surrounding environment will get richer over time. This same notion applies to building a basis of shared understanding and definitions enabled through a foundation of data with integrity.

The path to value is easier seen from the peak rather than the base of the mountain. Nearly every organization has access to a tremendous amount of data, which continues to evolve and grow, and the proliferation of sensors through the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving this even further. It can be challenging to know where to begin, and some trails are harder than others, with quite a few dead ends along the way.

Select the peak elements that are accessible, manageable, and will provide value with a high confidence level. Oftentimes, organizations will try to climb straight up the mountain and fail when the trails of gradual and incremental development yield the greatest likelihood for reaching the summit. As competency and skill are developed and integrity and meaning confirmed, the value gained will continue to improve through reaching greater altitudes and insights.

Surround yourself with people who know and care. Developing an environment of data-driven insights is not complicated; however, it requires a culture that places value on data and knowledge, commitment to quality and information governance, adaptability in rationalizing and translating terminology, and experience in delivering pragmatic outcome-driven value.

Be intentional and precise in navigating each step along the way. Work with peers and partners that are equally invested in achieving shared success. Delivering wisdom through data-driven insights will empower tremendous positive potential across the entire transportation, logistics, and supply chain domain.

The Expeditors Podcast

Blog was originally posted on May 13, 2021 1 PM

Topics: technology, Data

Chris McClincy

Written by Chris McClincy

Starting out his career in logistics as a truck driver and dispatcher, a couple of decades later, his technical expertise, leadership, and commitment to excellence led Chris to the helm of Expeditors’ IS organization. As CIO, Chris leads the global management and organizational strategy for Expeditors Global Information and Technology Services and champions our quest to provide technology solutions that solve key supply chain challenges. Chris is known for his complete commitment to Expeditors, our stakeholders, his family, and the community.

4 minute read