How business intelligence can boost retail supply chain

By Freddie Pierce
With most industries feeling the pressure of tough market conditions, more and more companies are investigating strategies to achieve cost savings and...

With most industries feeling the pressure of tough market conditions, more and more companies are investigating strategies to achieve cost savings and improved performance.

Various supply chain technologies work well to increase efficiency and reduce cost; but it requires the application of business intelligence solutions to take performance to the next level, according to Grant Marshbank, chief operation officer of VSc Solutions, and speaker at the upcoming annual SAPICS Conference.

“Business Intelligence Solutions are not new to South African organisations, but the approach of focusing on the supply chain whilst effectively integrating with any system – whether internal or external - redefines the potential value of what can be achieved,” he says, referring to a case study on Parmalat that will be presented at the SAPICS 2013* conference in June. 

As supply chain consultants to dairy giant Parmalat, the distribution solutions for Parmalat SA include best of breed routing and scheduling software, as well as planning software that allows for fast and effective daily distribution planning and visibility.

Whilst these solutions gave Parmalat an effective framework to manage its distribution, the addition of the Business Intelligence solution resulted in exponential efficiency gains and cost savings. “The potential value-add was only realised when the implementation of the Business Intelligence solution took the integration of these solutions to the next level,” says Marshbank.

According to Marshbank, most businesses operate against a set of measurable KPIs that are often run from various data centres and compiled into numerous spreadsheets. “This process is time consuming and is potentially inaccurate,” he notes.

However, by applying a business intelligence approach, an effective solution results that enables one to automatically extract data from any source (in any format) and populate such data into any array of formats/locations. “When coupled with powerful Web solutions and data warehousing tools, the result is a powerful integrated Business Intelligence solution,” he says.

“The Parmalat Business Intelligence solution allows KPIs to be viewed per annum, month or selected date range, as well as on a national, distribution centre or even employee level. The solution also provides analytical capabilities where users are able to drill down to the lowest level of detail on any dashboard, report or data set queried.”

Marshbank says the integrated Business Intelligence solution is relevant to any organisation regardless of size. “Integrated supply chain solutions today are undoubtedly the key to making inspired business decisions in the future,” he concludes.

*The presentation by Willem Schoeman (Parmalat National Distribution Manager) and Grant Marshbank (VSc Solutions COO) at the 35th Annual SAPICS Conference & Exhibition 2013 is entitled: Integrated Distribution and Business Intelligence Solutions:  A Practical Example. 


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