Big data describes the massive volumes of structured and unstructured data that arrive at high velocity and that is too complex to be processed using traditional means. The current rate at which data is created is said to be 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day.

Although the benefits of working with big data are huge, many businesses are falling behind due to lack of awareness and resources needed to take advantage of this relatively new area. Research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor shows, however, that the number of jobs that require a specialism in Data Science is expected to rise by 27.9% by 2026, suggesting that a Masters of Data Science degree could put you in good stead for a promising career.

In this article, we will look at some of the benefits big data can bring to supply chain management to help such businesses stay competitive in an increasingly globalized market.

Inventory Management

Big data can help businesses improve their inventory management systems by predicting sales trends and demand for their products. With access to vast amounts of data from their customers, suppliers and other sources insights can be gleaned into which products are selling well and which are under-performing helping businesses to capitalize on opportunities by making data-driven decisions.

By leveraging historical sales data and intelligent data analytics businesses can reveal patterns that will enable them to bring greater efficiency to their inventory management. Whether it’s knowing how much stock is needed to meet demand or the level of out-of-stock products resulting in missed sales, big data can ultimately ensure increased productivity and profitability.

Order Fulfillment

Efficient tracking and order fulfillment are essential to customer satisfaction and, therefore, to business success. Big data can help businesses provide up-to-date shipping information to their suppliers and customers through the use of data captured throughout the shipping process.

Big data analytics such as GPS fleet tracking software can be used to benefit fleet management systems to optimize delivery routes and ensure orders are fulfilled by the scheduled date. With detailed and accurate data such as traffic, weather and accident information, businesses can ascertain the reason for delayed deliveries or why there are problems with certain routes. In this way, big data can help businesses better manage their fleets, resulting in increased operational efficiency and better customer service.

Temperature and Quality Control

Industries such as food, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and agriculture rely on the close monitoring and control of temperatures as even slight variations can adversely affect the quality of their product or render it valueless.

To prevent unnecessary waste, big data systems can be implemented in cold chain monitoring to ensure temperature-sensitive products are maintained at a constant temperature. Fluctuations during the packing, shipping and delivery process are also closely monitored allowing adjustments to be made to heating and cooling systems, where necessary.

These systems are essential when encountering potential setbacks or interruptions in the supply chain due to traffic, weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This ensures successful product delivery with minimal wastage.

As outlined in this article, these are just some of the benefits supply chain businesses can take advantage of by harnessing the power of big data.