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Q&A – How can business intelligence increase the transparency in our supply chain?

by Editorial Office

Business Intelligence (BI) offers companies a wide range of opportunities to optimize processes within their supply chain. But can BI also increase transparency along entire supply chains? Arne Brehmer, Head of Business Performance & Projects / BI at Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany, knows the answer.

What is Business Intelligence?

Especially in highly competitive, volatile markets and turbulent times, companies should keep up their pace in order to operate in a cost-efficient manner. One key to long-term business success is the profitable analysis and use of all data generated along the supply chain. In this context, Business Intelligence (BI) can support companies significantly.

But what precisely is characterized by the famous buzzword? BI is the generic term for access to data available in the company as well as its IT-supported analysis, preparation and presentation. The objective of BI is to identify relevant correlations on the basis of existing information and to generate new, economically useful knowledge from it. In this way, practice-relevant facts are created from unmanageable virtual data volumes, which help those responsible to make well-founded business decisions.

Alas, how can companies increase the transparency within their supply chain with the help of business intelligence? Arne Brehmer, Head of Business Performance & Projects / BI at Hermes International, explains.

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Arne Brehmer, Head of Business Performance & Projects/BI at Hermes International.

Using Business Intelligence to increase the transparency within the supply chain

The use of business intelligence to optimize supply chain processes is a recurring topic, which is also increasingly requested by our customers. Rather than a more transparent business approach, the objective is often the system-supported streamlining, standardization or simplification of processes.

Nevertheless, our customers often initially approach us with a different set of requirements: By bringing all data together, visualizing and finally interpreting it, the basis for a more transparent supply chain is created at the same time – a potential that managers should not leave unexploited.

BI tools provide companies with detailed access to current supply chain data – in the best case across companies – and thus offer a valuable basis for efficiently managing complex supply chain processes.

BI enables an efficient supply chain planning

Companies using BI receive a transparent overview of all processes within a supply chain via real-time dashboards. Logistics managers are thus able to react quickly to changes in plans or interruptions within the supply chain. They can configure their dashboards in such a way that they are automatically informed in the event of deviations and defined scenarios are initiated. These options are proving to be a real competitive factor – especially in the current time characterized by planning uncertainty.

In addition to short-term troubleshooting, BI dashboards also help to permanently optimize processes: Through the transparent evaluation of all data, BI for example identifies optimal routing or trends that can have a negative impact on the profitability of the supply chain.  This allows those in charge to actively take countermeasures or develop alternative strategies.

BI across the supply chain

BI is one of the key drivers in corporate digitization strategies. With the help of BI, companies can put their dark data, i.e. previously unused raw data that accumulates every day within the supply network, into a meaningful and profitable context. Companies should actively use the resulting transparency in order to get closer to their business goals. Whether cost reduction, speed advantages or the desire for more sustainability – Business Intelligence offers the potential to successfully realize all these objectives through the transparent use of all data. Thus, BI is certainly one of the key drivers within the digitization strategy of companies.


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