Big-data analytics and other technologies are dramatically improving productivity in the global supply chain, according to a recent survey by Clear Peak Supply Chain Advisory Council.

Since 81% of survey respondents view their supply chain as a strategic asset they did identified a need for investment in big-data analytics as a way to drive supply chain improvements. Nearly three quarters (74%) indicated their organizations lack a strategic plan for end-to-end management of the supply chain, 57% pointed to significant budget constraints, and 43% cited “inaccurate data or lack of access to data” as factors inhibiting them from gaining strategic advantages from next-generation supply chain technologies.

Supply chain visibility technologies—real-time data collection, information management and analytics across open, cloud-based platforms; low-cost, high-capacity data storage; and the acceleration of computational capabilities—can enable productivity improvements which result in lower costs, faster delivery of more customized products, and dramatic improvements in customer satisfaction.

Identifying and quantifying the impact of many of these factors, the survey found that:

Big data and analytics shrink supply chains and create a smaller world. Supply chain visibility will impact the entire chain. Respondents ranked customer service, tier one supplier management, transportation management and demand management as the greatest beneficiaries of advances in SCM. Harnessing the flood of big data from sources like the Internet of Things will hasten the evolution of analytics from descriptive to predictive to prescriptive, and drive efficiencies in procurement, manufacturing and inventory management. New technologies like 3D printing, custom manufacturing, self-driving vehicles and automated warehouses will shrink supply chains, streamline distribution and shorten order and delivery times.

SCM is seen as a strategic asset, but not yet as a driver of profitability and organizational change.

Four in five respondents said the supply chain is a tool for better service performance or revenue generation. Yet only 12% say their supply chain operations are based on one single source of reliable data, and significant challenges—like data and organizational silos, lack of strategic planning, and the absence of budgetary and boardroom-level support for initiatives—must be addressed.

Recommendations for C-Level Executives

The Council’s report recommends that C level executives develop and execute against a multifaceted strategy that includes processes, technologies, organizational change management, road-mapping and other key elements to transition to data-driven supply chain management and a data-driven culture.

It encourages supply chain executives learn and leverage technology and move up the learning curve to make better investments in emerging solutions that offer supply chain visibility and data-driven SCM. And it urges SCM practitioners to clearly articulate to CFOs and COOs the decision-support and operational advantages of making continuous improvements in supply chain visibility.