We are living in the Big Data era, where every new system or automation produces, retains and generates more and more information – often much more than users know what to do with. This is why reports are so vital because they offer a kind of ‘Big Data alchemy’, turning information into golden collateral. Much more than just a message that something has or has not happened, a report is an invitation to consider whether change or improvement is possible.
For example, here at TGMatrix, we are continually developing the reporting capabilities of our Intelligent Freight Matching solution to address not just events as they happen, but performance, compliance, costs, sustainability and probability (what is likely to happen).
The role of a comprehensive strategy
A comprehensive reporting strategy will empower the shipper in a number of different ways. Firstly, each contract can be benchmarked on price as it is struck. The shipper can easily see whether pricing by a particular carrier, or on a particular lane, is moving, without having to wait for an annual review. It becomes possible to use business analytics to discern trends and patterns early. Price offers on a lane may tend to be higher at a particular time of day, or day of the week. It might be that particular carriers, or all carriers, have difficulty delivering the promised performance at particular times.
These are the kinds of insights that suggest ways of improving operations. For example, changing timings or routings to avoid known congestion hotspots. Price benchmarking might suggest that the shipper’s cost expectations are simply unrealistic, which could feed into decisions on how to serve particular markets.
Mobile applications will allow data logged by carriers and drivers to generate and analyse a richer picture. This can include proofs of delivery, evidence of on time and in full, logging of damage or other out of specification events. There may be persistent problems or worrying trends that require a ‘conversation’ with the carrier. Equally, the analysis may reveal carriers that consistently perform well and should be nurtured. The underlying causes of problems may have been forgotten by the time of a periodic review, but through continuous benchmarking and analysis issues can be resolved and indeed anticipated.
The role of predictive analysis
This data can form a basis for predictive analysis, where the shipper can evaluate with confidence proposed new traffics or the cost of serving new customers. Analysis can provide the information needed to optimise chosen strategies, whether they are around the lowest price, smallest carbon footprint, fastest delivery or a ‘balanced scorecard’ of factors.
These insights will also help the shipper to develop mutually beneficial relationships with carriers that share similar approaches and values. Ultimately, while Big Data is a rich gold mine of opportunity, it takes an effective reporting system to extract the valuable nuggets of information and refine them into valuable assets.
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