Big data can have big impact on supply chain management

The use of data analytics is underused in supply chain management to minimize risk exposure

Supply chain management is a vital component of minimizing a company’s risk of fraud, bribery, and corruption, and new tools can help organizations looking to limit their exposure to these risks as modern technology worms its way into even the oldest of businesses.

Big data is still a point of intrigue for many businesses looking to take advantage of digital analysis to create more efficient and foolproof operations in their supply chains, but data analytics tools should be far from enigmatic for supply chain managers. Bloomberg suggests that data analytics tools and big data are two elements that can help businesses identify problem areas within a supply chain before those areas actually do damage. Bloomberg quotes Debra Ray, a principal at 12M Loans a lending company in California, on the importance of including data analytics in supply chain management:
“Incorporating advanced data analytics methods into the forensic accounting process enables us to expand our scope to a broader population of transactions…usually when we are trying to help a company identify fraud, waste or abuse in their supply chain, data analytics helps us uncover even more details such as, for example, invoice charges that contradict the contract. This better enables us to help the client recover lost funds.”

It is well known that errors in a supply chain can do massive damage to a company in a host of ways. Indeed, supply chain management is seen as one of the foundational blocks of corporate social responsibility. Transparency is a must for efficient managers, and big data provides insight into clearer amounts of information a company can use to make its supply chain more efficient, and to minimize risk.

There are other ramifications that mismanagement of the supply chain can have on a business — not necessarily relegated to just numbers and legal disputes. InsideCounsel’s Rich Steeves writes: “While it is clear that a supply chain problem can harm a company’s reputation, proper supply chain management can actually improve a company’s reputation.” Reputation is naturally less easy to quantify than losses as a result of property disasters or legal costs, but as far as brand awareness goes, it is a vital component. So, as companies look into more modern ways to manage their supply chains, they would do well to look towards the future of big data.

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