Data-driven cultures: why now?

Date : 15 August 2018

Supply Chain Capability Manager, Alex Edge, summarises the recent report, How to build a data-driven culture and explores the implications for skills in supply chain.

Birthday boy

My 31st birthday has just passed, and with that, my 15th anniversary working in supply chain. I’ve been processing data throughout my entire career, making decisions based upon thousands of columns of Excel data and countless VLOOKUPs, pivot tables, IF statements, filters, sorts, validation, groups, and so on. 

I don’t think I’m alone, so why are many still battling to build a data-driven culture, and why has there never been a better time to start your journey?

Our latest report

My colleague, Chris Irish, recently published a report on How to build a data-driven culture. It focuses on:

  • Why businesses are investing in developing a data-driven culture now
  • Actions that can embed this way of working
  • Examples of how a data-driven approach has delivered success

The report looks at how businesses can unlock competitive advantage and how the ability to extract insight from data is the new competitive playground for manufacturers and retailers alike. 

Source: How to build a data-driven culture, IGD Supply Chain Analysis 2018

A big unknown

A report we produced on data-driven supply chains back in 2016, suggested that 41% of businesses “lack of analytical capability”. A sizable proportion considering the role analysis now plays in so many supply chain jobs. 

But analysis and analytics mean different things to different people. It’s a rapidly evolving area, and this may explain why many feel they are behind the curve. The report highlights how developments in technology will change the way we interact data.

Our thought leadership, Training: what does the future hold? addresses some of what will need to change to equip people to succeed in a more data-driven future. But a data-driven culture is as much about developing mindsets as it is about developing skills… Buying into data and trusting what it tells us over our gut feel, may well be a bigger obstacle to overcome.

Why now? The push to change

Competition is fierce and market growth is slow. This means businesses are looking for new growth opportunities and new enablers of growth. Data is one of these.

In addition, businesses have access to more and more data and increasing amounts are generated by shoppers! From which products you have liked on Facebook, how long you spend in the confectionary aisle looking for your evening treat or surveying me to find out how many Dreamies I feed my cat every day.

As competition increases and more players enter the food and grocery market, the opportunities presented by data have appeared on the radar of many businesses. Marks & Spencer recently announced that it’s opened an academy to train staff from all functions in data science topics. PepsiCo has also recently announced it is using multiple service providers such as Hortonworks, Trifacta and Tableau to extract the maximum insight from its vast data warehouses.

The pull

We can now get so much more for so much less. Improvements in processing power and falling storage costs are both catalysts for change. 

These, coupled with the convergence of innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing mean the potential for insights is greater than at any point in history. But insights don’t just fall out of data…yet... anyway. And if they did, they wouldn’t add any value unless they drive action.

What next?

For businesses to create a data-driven culture, top-down sponsorship is essential to land the most effective change and to extract the greatest benefit. 

“Torture the data, and it will confess to anything” - Ronald Coase, Nobel Prize winner

Considering where you can improve your data decision chain to make the most informed decisions should soon follow. Once we’ve decided on our course of direction we can then upskill and build future capabilities to tackle the challenge ahead.

To learn more about the data decision chain and understand how the industry is responding, check out the full report on Supply Chain Analysis.

If you would like to continue the discussion, please get in touch.


Want to know more?

How to build a data-driven culture
We’ve created a six-step roadmap towards a data-driven culture, with some case studies to point the way to the future.

M&S invests in digital and data skills
UK retailer Marks & Spencer has announced a new programme to increase digital skills across the business.

Real data, real insight: Forecasting within real-time data applications
We talk to Dr Emel Aktas and Professor Michael Bourlakis from Cranfield School of Management (U.K.) about how forecast methods can leverage real-time data to improve retail operations.

Alex Edge

Alex Edge

Supply Chain Insight Manager

More sources of information and better analytical tools mean there is no better time to put data at the heart of your supply chain. We’ve created a six-step roadmap towards a data-driven culture, and some case studies help point the way to the future.

Technology can add value through efficiencies and innovation. The right strategy, coupled with a data-driven approach will empower you to extract insight and act decisively.

15 October, London
The IGD Supply Chain Summit 2019 focuses on how to be customer centric. We’ll connect you with the retailers, suppliers and solution providers that are winning with customers.

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