Building Better Supply Chain Data

Part 2: It Turns Out, Not All Data Types Are Created Equal

02 April 2020 // Suddenly, everything has changed in supply chain. In coming issues, we’ll share strategies to adapt, digitize and transform your operations for a COVID-19 world—and the supply chain shifts that come afterwards. 

This week, though, we complete our three part series on building better supply chain data. It’s a timely discussion. In a dynamic, fast-changing business environment, the cost of getting information wrong can be brutal. And getting it right can literally mean the difference between life and death. 

As United Technologies Chairman and Chief Executive officer Greg Hayes said at a recent White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, “Strategy is important, but logistics wins war.”

Part one in our series. “Do We Really Know What We’re Talking About When We Talk About Data,” expanded the definition of data. “Our experience suggests that there are many important distinctions to be made both in the types and quality of data,” we wrote. “Much like the 50 words in the Inuit language for snow, we need a vocabulary to show how various pieces of information should be valued and correlated.”

The second installment, “Not All Data Types Are Created Equal,” explored subtypes of information. Physical data, synthetic data, captive data, dynamic data: If you don’t know what all these are and which type you’re dealing with, you can’t achieve meaningful visibility or analysis.

This week, we take a closer look at data quality. Traditionally, supply chain practitioners have thought in terms of good versus bad data. Right or wrong. In fact, quality isn’t that simple.

Wrong data is easy. It’s just wrong. Someone scanned the wrong barcode, transposed a number, associated the wrong carrier with a shipment, sent the wrong file. While that may not always be easy to identify, it’s simple to see how an inaccurate entry hurts the overall information chain. In one supply chain we assessed, those inaccuracies caused more than half of all shipments to be untrackable.

Likewise, missing data is a straightforward concept. But it’s a little trickier to flag in practice As former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might have said it, there are known unknowns like an empty cell. “But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” That latter category includes unconnected suppliers who have information that’s valuable but not being shared digitally. 

Delayed data goes a step further. How much does it affect overall decision-making quality if you discover—days late—that a sensitive instrument received a shock in transit? Compare that with an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor that reports the same condition on a live basis, allowing managers to establish responsibility and to plan for replacements, repairs or other measures.

Delayed data can also be as simple as status updates that arrive late. In a recent data audit with a Fortune 100 client, we found that more than half of all tracking data lagged behind the actual event by more than 2 hours—and sometimes was not reported for 48 hours or more. That lack of visibility significantly limited the client’s ability to see and manage inefficiencies.

Inaccessible data are those nuggets of information that could provide valuable insights if only you were able to see them. Often these details are locked in the systems of partners or suppliers. Or, they’re trapped in systems that aren’t connected to overall visibility or don’t fit in existing data architecture. If your enterprise has multiple ERPs, you know what we mean.

If you’re working to digitize your supply chain, you should carefully consider how proposed solutions account for different data types and data quality. Traditional integrations are a good but limited starting point. Our own ChronosCloud platform adds the capability to see all partner data in one place. And, it helps you dig deeper into your supply chain and make sense of the torrents of information coming from IoT devices. Finally, ChronosCloud’s mobile tools help gather information from unconnected sources and offline interactions. 

With all these data types working together, you get high-definition visibility and powerful insights. We’d love to demonstrate the power of ChronosCloud for you—or learn more about your supply chain challenges.

 


 

Heard On The Dock

Strategy is important, but logistics wins war. We stand ready to help in any way we can.

--Greg Hayes, Chairman and CEO, United Technologies speaking at a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, 3/30/20

 


 

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