Real-time business intelligence

By on December 27, 2013
Inland Empire Company helps NASA.001

Using space-age technology to adapt to market trends
By Swapan Nag

What does technology that allows us to view Earth from the International Space Station as it orbits around the planet have to do with supply chain management? Or technology that helps authorities pinpoint and deploy vital resources during a catastrophic natural disaster?…The ability to crunch big data and create a real-time visual of places, events and objects.

In the business world time is money and having access to information when you need it makes a difference between productivity and wasted resources. As a result this growing demand for immediate information in business has driven the development of online solutions using advanced technology.

Today, online maps are increasingly being used to visualize the relationship between disparate data elements, and to identify trends and patterns that are difficult to interpret from spreadsheets and reports.

For manufacturers, retailers and distribution companies, the need to get the right product to the right place in the right quantity at the right time depends greatly on timely business intelligence to track all the moving parts. Using Google Earth mapping technology, geospatial firms are pioneering cloud-based reporting programs that are allowing these industries to convert real-time inventory and sales data into graphic images that can easily be interrupted by decision makers.

Cost control, customer service and planning are some of the top challenges of supply chain management. All require the continuous assessment of market conditions and operational performance. These online programs are addressing each of these concerns with their ability to communicate situational awareness about people, places, objects and events that companies can easily understand.

Illustrated information flows allow businesses to improve the logistics channel and adapt quickly to market trends by making immediate production adjustments based on real-time sales trends, and accurately track inventory at various stages of the distribution cycle. This increases product success and reduces time-to-market. With increased productivity and reduced waste, products are created and delivered faster and cheaper.

It also opens the doors to creating products based on what consumers actually need and are buying, rather than on what companies think they want. Companies no longer have to expend a massive amount of resources to convince consumers to want a product. Geospatial technology eliminates the guesswork and helps companies get in sync with their customer’s wants and needs.

For companies in industries like automobile manufacturing where personal preferences are king, this can be very valuable. Different demographic groups and markets all have their own preference on what colors and features they want their cars or trucks to have, and creating a winning product mix for each model series can be impossible. But, what if you could customize cars to the specifications that are in demand right now, and deliver them to the markets where they are needed?

With online inventory reporting programs auto manufacturers could easily identify sales trends in each of their key markets, and immediately adjust their production schedules to customize models for dealers in specific markets. This also helps manufacturers decrease under-performing products, or shipping goods to places where they are not performing well.

Geospatial reporting systems can also help companies optimize the allocation of advertising and marketing dollars. By mining trends as they develop within different geographic segments, businesses can create and change psychographic tapestry profiles of customers associated with each product. These systems also account for regional differences and can be used to design effective marketing messages for specific media fragments. Business will better understand who their customers are and know where, when and how to approach them.

Accurate and timely business intelligence is invaluable. With real-time analytics, geospatial reporting systems are enhancing the world of supply chain management, and creating more efficient and cost-effective companies.

Swapan Nag is the owner of NAG, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in providing GIS, GPS and IT solutions and support services for data visualization systems. He can be reached at (866) 610-1602.