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Why The Manufacturing Industry Needs BI Badly: A Christmas Story

by Sian Davies
BI and Data Consultant, ZAP BI,

One of the nicest things about living in a city where rent is frighteningly out of proportion to average salaries is that most people share a roof with strangers, who later become friends. This circumstance has provided me insight into three very different professions to my own, and as a BI consultant where I rely on sector specific insight as currency, this means that every conversation we have about our respective workplace challenges is treated as gold dust.

One of my housemates works for a high street food retailer, in logistics and supply chain management. Her primary concern, particularly at this time of the year, is to make sure the goods from the suppliers reach the stores within time constraints which prevent a) deterioration during transit and b) gaps on the shelves. The data from previous years confirms for her that between now and Christmas her most unpredictable obstacle will be the weather (unpredictable in the sense that some years it doesn't factor; in others we have 2 inches of snow and the country grinds to a halt), while the most predictable and costly challenges will emanate from the suppliers themselves.

Her company will spend the next few months planning around and managing for each possible eventuality where their key suppliers do not meet their obligations. This strikes me as an incredibly pressured and expensive activity on either side. While her company will have to resource this problem around the clock, the suppliers in turn risk fines and damaged relationships, possibly even the discontinuation of their contracts ahead of next Christmas.

One of the things we often talk about as BI practitioners is the benefit of data driven decision making. This Christmas logistics scenario made me wonder how many of the conversations which will ...

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About Sian Davies
Sian Davies is a BI and data consultant.
More about Sian Davies