Guide to a Data-Driven Supply Chain – Part 3: Unexpected Sources of Data

The Blume Global Team | October 29, 2019

Every minute of the day, data is being created all around us. Everything from the photo you just posted to the weather alert you received on your phone, data is being captured in places we would have never expected. This data then helps to inform the world around us by enabling machine learning and artificial intelligence based solutions, even within the supply chain industry. 

As we shared in our second blog in the seriesan important aspect to meaningful insights is to utilize a wide variety of data not just from within your organization, but also external data sources. In this third installment, we look at unexpected sources of data that can help drive optimization and better planning within your supply chain.  

The Value of Social Media within the Supply Chain

We don’t often think of social media and the supply chain together or as potential partners. However, social media’s ability to capture data in real time has the power to inform business decisions made within supply chain organizations 

For instance, a labor strike at a factory may be first shared on Twitter from a participating employeeEmployee strikes have the potential to cause delays within manufacturing and shipping, leading to failures to meet customer orders and severe loss of profitsThe earlier supply chain leaders are notified of a strike, the earlier they can adjust their business operations to prevent further loss and maintain customer satisfaction. In this case, social media proves to be an invaluable resource. 

In addition, social media also gives insight into consumer behavior, informing the decision-making process for supply chain leadersBy receiving regular data on what is trending on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, retailers can predict which items may experience an uptake in sales. This will then help them decide on what items to produce more of, ensuring that they are able to meet the demands of their customer baseAccurate and timely data around trends will also allow supply chain organizations to re-route inventory based on changing business conditions. 

How Diseases Inform the Supply Chain

Another source of unexpected data which informs supply chain operations comes from tracking diseasesRecently, an outbreak of African swine fever has had a ripple effect throughout the pork industry. This disease has significantly decreased the global population of hogs, leading to an increase in demand from unaffected hog suppliers and other meat suppliers. Data-based predictions surrounding the markets affected by this disease have given suppliers the ability to scale up ahead of time. 

Historical disease data can also prove to be insightful in forecasting future demands. By analyzing past data surrounding flu shots—such as the time of year they’re most popular and average number administered in certain areas— supply chain organizations can best plan for peak seasons. 

The world around us is filled with valuable data. By tapping into relevant data sources and data-driven solutions, supply chain organizations can be better equipped to tackle the unexpected while continuing to deliver customer satisfaction.  

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