Supply chains run on data, and the quality of that information is critical to business success. Take shipment transparency, for example: The ability to track and trace goods in transit (supply chain visibility), gives shippers and logistics service providers the power to know, in real-time, where their goods are anywhere in the world. Logistics execution solutions enable customers to act on that data to get a delayed shipment back on track. But these and other supply chain visibility solutions are only as good as the shipment data they can collect from carriers. And acting on that data depends on how quickly supply chain technology providers can process that information.
This is where the difference between working with a data creator and a data aggregator comes in. The aggregator relies on a copy of the information, while the creator knows strong connections to carriers and the ability to create new insights from that real-world data brings added value to logistics clients.
The last two-plus years have shown us that the use of supply chain technology is extremely important. Some companies used to get by using spreadsheets and manual processes; in the ever-changing supply chain space, with new disruptions cropping up daily and shifting consumer demands, working with a supply chain technology provider is a necessity. Avoiding the next major supply chain disruption – or taking advantage of new sourcing, manufacturing, and shipping opportunities that pop up at the last minute – is only possible if your supply chain technology provider is processing data directly from carriers without the latency that is the downfall of most data aggregation systems. If that data isn’t being processed in real-time or is routed through a third-party data aggregator, shipment bottlenecks or other disruptions might emerge at the last minute – when it’s too late to react.
Don’t all supply chain technology providers access this same data? Not exactly. When the data is accessible, many supply chain technology providers must develop integrations to access this same data, extending deployment time and creating delays in real-time data access. Shippers, no matter how large, need to pay attention to how the data flows to them and also to be wary of digital-first solutions that are not maintained with an eye toward innovation and suffer from a lack of updates and poor customer support.
Are there technology providers out there today that instead of amassing data from other sources, create it? Can those companies offer pinpoint lead times and ETAs because they connect directly to carriers instead of relying on a third party for the data? The best supply chain technology providers augment these direct connections with indirect connections (AIS data for ocean voyages, etc.), comparing the two data streams to provide the most accurate information. This leads to the best possible outcome when dealing with the predictability of shipment lead times. Historically, systems have seen lead times as an immovable number of days; shipments are, in reality, variable due to seasonality, and natural and political events. Once variable lead times are taken into account and predictability is established, shippers can develop more accurate plans and create realistic customer expectations.
It’s also crucial to consider what actions can be undertaken based on the data provided. The best data providers allow their logistics customers to link supply chain visibility to action. At Blume Global, that’s how we define supply chain orchestration. You see, orchestration provides the agility needed to overcome disruptions, giving you a resilient supply chain. In an ever-crowded supply chain technology space, it’s important to nail down these definitions and have supreme confidence in your provider’s mission and vision.
When considering the role supply chain data plays in your processes and evaluating whether a new provider is in order, prioritize companies with the ability to produce real-time data, directly from carriers, that is an official source of supply chain information. This is not a copy. It doesn’t come through another source. In fact, some of the first- and last-mile data other transportation technology providers use is generated by these companies because they have a reputation as being the one true source of supply chain data.
Shippers and other users looking to data aggregators for their planning and operations insights are leaving themselves open to not getting data fast enough to fuel to properly predict and anticipate Black Swan events. At a minimum, aggregators add latency, but they can also deliver inaccurate data because they are not the single source of data truth. The real questions are: Is your technology provider an aggregator or a data creator? Depending on your answer, does that open you up to risk? Choose your supply chain technology partner wisely with those questions in mind.
Blume Global provides innovative solutions that unite supply chain visibility and the ability to act. In this way, we’re changing the narrative around supply chain orchestration. Contact us today or explore our solutions to see how we level up your logistics processes.