Cloud-Based Analytics for Supply Chain and Workforce Performance

Plex Systems, a developer of cloud ERP for manufacturing, has introduced two new analytic applications designed to provide manufacturers insight into supply chain performance and their workforce.
The new Supply Chain and Human Capital analytic applications build on the library of applications in the IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite, a broad suite of cloud analytics for manufacturing organizations.

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud is designed to connect people, processes, systems and products in manufacturing enterprises. The goal is not only to streamline and automates operations, but also enable greater access to companywide data. The IntelliPlex suite of analytic applications aims to turn that data into configurable, role-based decision support dashboards–with deep drill-down and drill-across capabilities. The IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite includes analytics for sales, order management, procurement, production and finance professionals.

IntelliPlex Supply Chain Analytic Application
The new IntelliPlex Supply Chain Analytic application provides a dashboard for managing strategic programs, such as enterprise supplier performance, inventory and materials management and customer success. Metrics include:

  1. On-time delivery and return rates by supplier, part, material, etc.
  2. Production backlog by part group, product time, etc.
  3. Spend by supplier and type, including unapproved spend
  4. Inventory turns and aging based on type, location, etc.
  5. Materials management accuracy, adjustments and trends by type, location, etc.
  6. On-time fill rate, customer lead time, average days to ship, fulfillment by location

Read more at Cloud-Based Analytics for Supply Chain and Workforce Performance

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The Analytics Supply Chain

Businesses across many industries spend millions of dollars employing advanced analytics to manage and improve their supply chains. Organizations look to analytics to help with sourcing raw materials more efficiently, improving manufacturing productivity, optimizing inventory, minimizing distribution cost, and other related objectives.

But the results can be less than satisfactory. It often takes too long to source the data, build the models, and deliver the analytics-based solutions to the multitude of decision makers in an organization. Sometimes key steps in the process are omitted completely. In other words, the solution for improving the supply chain, i.e. advanced analytics, suffers from the same problems that it aims to solve. Therefore, reducing inefficiencies in the analytics supply chain should be a critical component of any analytics initiative in order to generate better outcomes. Because one of us (Zahir) spent twenty years optimizing supply chains with analytics at transportation companies, the concept was a naturally appealing one for us to take a closer look at.

More broadly speaking, the concept of the analytics supply chain is applicable outside of its namesake business domain. It is agnostic to business and analytic domains. Advanced analytics for marketing offers, credit decisions, pricing decisions, or a multitude of other areas could benefit from the analytics supply chain metaphor.

Read more at The Analytics Supply Chain

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Socialbakers bakes its data analytics down to a Social Health Index

Can social media analytics be compressed into an elevator pitch?

That was a question Lenovo asked its social analytics firm, Socialbakers. The result, launching today, is a Social Health Index that presents a few top-level indicators of a brand’s standing in social media vis-a-vis any competitors.

“When you’re with a VP, you have to [quickly] give them a very clear idea of where we stand,” Lenovo’s director of the Digital and Social Center of Excellence Rod Strother told us. Given that need, Lenovo then provided input to Socialbakers for developing the Index.

It offers a single top-level number on a 100-point scale, as well as single numbers representing the client’s — or a competitor’s — social health on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Other platforms will be added at some point, the social analytics firm said.

Additionally, an area graph visually depicts the four groups of data that go into the scores — participation, follower/fan/subscriber acquisition and retention, and shareability.

“We find it’s difficult for clients to comprehend all” the statistics in ordinary social analytics reports, Socialbakers’ CEO and co-founder Jan Rezab told VentureBeat.

“It’s very, very complicated,” he said, noting that his firm tracks over 180 metrics for social media.

Read more at Socialbakers bakes its data analytics down to a Social Health Index

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Big data analytics technology: disruptive and important?

Of all the disruptive technologies we track, big data analytics is the biggest. It’s also among the haziest in terms of what it really means to supply chain. In fact, its importance seems more to reflect the assumed convergence of trends for massively increasing amounts of data and ever faster analytical methods for crunching that data. In other words, the 81percent of all supply chain executives surveyed who say big data analytics is ‘disruptive and important’ are likely just assuming it’s big rather than knowing first-hand.

Does this mean we’re all being fooled? Not at all. In fact, the analogy of eating an elephant is probably fair since there are at least two things we can count on: we can’t swallow it all in one bite, and no matter where we start, we’ll be eating for a long time.

So, dig in!

Getting better at everything

Searching SCM World’s content library for ‘big data analytics’ turns up more than 1,200 citations. The first screen alone includes examples for spend analytics, customer service performance, manufacturing variability, logistics optimisation, consumer demand forecasting and supply chain risk management.

Read more at Big data analytics technology: disruptive and important?

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Supply Chain & Big Data ÷ Analytics = Innovation

Google the term “advanced analytics” and you get back nearly 23 million results in less than a second.

Clearly, the use of advanced analytics is one of the hottest topics in the business press these days and is certainly top of mind among supply chain managers.

Yet, not everyone is in agreement as to just what the term means or how to deploy advanced analytics to maximum advantage.

At HP, the Strategic Planning and Modeling team has been utilizing advanced operational analytics for some 30 years to solve business problems requiring innovative approaches.

Over that time, the team has developed significant supply chain innovations such as postponement and award winning approaches to product design and product portfolio management.

Based on conversations we have with colleagues, business partners and customers at HP, three questions come up regularly – all of which this article will seek to address.

  1. What is the difference between advanced and commodity analytics?
  2. How do I drive innovation with advanced analytics?
  3. How do I set up an advanced analytics team and get started using it in my supply chain?

Advanced analytics vs. commodity analytics

So, what exactly is the difference between advanced analytics and commodity analytics? According to Bill Franks, author of “Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave,” the aim of commodity analytics is “to improve over where you’d end up without any model at all, a commodity modeling process stops when something good enough is found.”

Another definition of commodity analytics is “that which can be done with commonly available tools without any specialized knowledge of data analytics.”

The vast majority of what is being done in Excel spreadsheets throughout the analytics realm is commodity analytics.

Read more at Supply Chain & Big Data ÷ Analytics = Innovation

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How Big Data and CRM are Shaping Modern Marketing

Big Data is the term for massive data sets that can be mined with analytics software to produce information about your potential customers’ habits, preferences, likes and dislikes, needs and wants.

This knowledge allows you to predict the types of marketing, advertising and customer service to extend to them to produce the most sales, satisfaction and loyalty.

Skilled use of Big Data produces a larger clientele, and that is a good thing. However, having more customers means you must also have an effective means of keeping track of them, managing your contacts and appointments with them and providing them with care and service that has a personal feel to it rather than making them feel like a “number.”

That’s where CRM software becomes an essential tool for profiting from growth in your base of customers and potential customers. Good CRM software does exactly what the name implies – offers outstanding Customer Relationship Management with the goal of fattening your bottom line.

With that brief primer behind us, let’s look at five ways that the integration of Big Data and CRM is shaping today’s marketing campaigns.

Read more at How Big Data and CRM are Shaping Modern Marketing

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Overcoming 5 Major Supply Chain Challenges with Big Data Analytics

Big data analytics can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the supply chain. Leveraging big data, supply chain organizations can improve the way they respond to volatile demand or supply chain risk–and reduce concerns related to the issues.

Sixty-four percent of supply chain executives consider big data analytics a disruptive and important technology, setting the foundation for long-term change management in their organizations (Source: SCM World). Ninety-seven percent of supply chain executives report having an understanding of how big data analytics can benefit their supply chain. But, only 17 percent report having already implemented analytics in one or more supply chain functions (Source: Accenture).

Even if your organization is among the 83 percent who have yet to leverage big data analytics for supply chain management, you’re probably at least aware that mastering big data analytics will be a key enabler for supply chain and procurement executives in the years to come.

Big data enables you to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. For supply chain management, this can help increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the entire supply chain. Leveraging big data, your supply chain organizations can improve your response to volatile demand or supply chain risk, for example, and reduce the concerns related to the issue at hand. It will also be crucial for you to evolve your role from transactional facilitator to trusted business advisor.

Read more at Overcoming 5 Major Supply Chain Challenges with Big Data Analytics

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How Does Big Data Analytics Help in Decision Making

Staying ahead in the game is paramount for any business organization to survive in this competitive world. The future poses challenges that need tackling in the present. Every decision made today has a significant impact on the future of that organization. The rate at which a company responds to challenges in the present and the future is what determines their rate of success. Data Science and Big Data analytics can help organizations in decision making and drive the company to a realistic future.

The Deciding Factor

It is paramount for businesses to understand the big data concept and how it impacts the organization activities. Discussed below are ways in which Big Data facilitates faster and better decision making;

Accelerating Time-to-Answer

The time cycle for decision making is decreasing rapidly. Companies have to make decisions more quickly in this period than in the past. Accelerating decision-making time is crucial for the success of any organization. The use of Big Data doesn’t change the urgency of decision making. Big Data analytics mitigates.

Customer reaction to a product is an important factor to consider when making a decision. Using data resources to understand the preferences of customers is one way of pointing out gaps existing in the market. However, the problem is how do you integrate and act in real time? The key is to know how to combine Big Data with your traditional Business Intelligence to create a more convenient data ecosystem that allows for the generation of new insights while executing your present plans.

Accelerating your time-to-answer is crucial for customer satisfaction. For example, if your answer time is usually in minutes, Big Data can reduce it to seconds. If it takes weeks for a client to have their problem tackled, then reducing it to days is more convenient for your customers. Customer retention is critical to the success of your organization.

Read more at How Does Big Data Analytics Help in Decision Making

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How Big Data And Analytics Are Transforming Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is a field where Big Data and analytics have obvious applications. Until recently, however, businesses have been less quick to implement big data analytics in supply chain management than in other areas of operation such as marketing or manufacturing.

Of course supply chains have for a long time now been driven by statistics and quantifiable performance indicators. But the sort of analytics which are really revolutionizing industry today – real time analytics of huge, rapidly growing and very messy unstructured datasets – were largely absent.

This was clearly a situation that couldn’t last. Many factors can clearly impact on supply chain management – from weather to the condition of vehicles and machinery, and so recently executives in the field have thought long and hard about how this could be harnessed to drive efficiencies.

In 2013 the Journal of Business Logistics published a white paper calling for “crucial” research into the possible applications of Big Data within supply chain management. Since then, significant steps have been taken, and it now appears many of the concepts are being embraced wholeheartedly.

Applications for analysis of unstructured data has already been found in inventory management, forecasting, and transportation logistics. In warehouses, digital cameras are routinely used to monitor stock levels and the messy, unstructured data provides alerts when restocking is needed.

Read more at How Big Data And Analytics Are Transforming Supply Chain Management

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The Key to Analytics: Ask the Right Questions

People think analytics is about getting the right answers. In truth, it’s about asking the right questions.

Analysts can find the answer to just about any question. So, the difference between a good analyst and a mediocre one is the questions they choose to ask. The best questions test long-held assumptions about what makes the business tick. The answers to these questions drive concrete changes to processes, resulting in lower costs, higher revenue, or better customer service.

Often, the obvious metrics don’t correlate with sought-after results, so it’s a waste of time focusing on them, says Ken Rudin, general manager of analytics at Zynga and a keynote speaker at TDWI’s upcoming BI Executive Summit in San Diego on August 16-18.

Challenge Assumptions

For instance, many companies evaluate the effectiveness of their Web sites by calculating the number of page hits. Although a standard Web metric, total page hits often doesn’t correlate with higher profits, revenues, registrations, or other business objectives. So, it’s important to dig deeper, to challenge assumptions rather than take them at face value. For example, a better Web metric might be the number of hits that come from referral sites (versus search engines) or time spent on the Web site or time spent on specific pages.

TDWI Example. Here’s another example closer to home. TDWI always mails conference brochures 12 weeks before an event. Why? No one really knows; that’s how it’s always been done. Ideally, we should conduct periodic experiments. Before one event, we should send a small set of brochures 11 weeks beforehand and another small set 13 weeks prior. And while we’re at it, we should test the impact of direct mail versus electronic delivery on response rates.

Read more at The Key to Analytics: Ask the Right Questions

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