The future of predictive analytics
Currently logistics technology across the industry enables visibility of past events in the supply chain. At the moment, we can harness data to glean useful insights that we can apply to optimise operations in the future.
But if what if we could take it one step further? What if, instead of telling you what happened, the software could tell you what should happen?
Logistics software has this potential, and it has the capability to turbo-charge the efficiency of supply chains. The technology is still in its infancy industry-wide, but to be able to harness its full potential when it comes online, customers need to set up for success now.
This is why we are creating a cutting-edge consigning platform that delivers all the functionality required by our customers today, while being built for the future, ultimately capable of predictive analytics to help inform customers’ decisions tomorrow.
What are predictive analytics?
Predictive analytics give users deep, real-time insights that can be used to give recommendations about what activity to perform and when, based on a huge collection of quality data collected over a period of time.
Financial institutions are already using machine learning techniques and quantitative tools to predict credit risk. In healthcare, medical devices use pattern-detection algorithms to identify asthma and lung disease.
In logistics, delays and disruptions invariably occur.
It is our job as logistics managers to anticipate where and when they might occur so we can prevent them from occurring or mitigate their impact. Many such events are repeat occurrences, which can be linked to seasons, months, days or time of day.
Before the pandemic changed our ways of working, we all knew to expect traffic congestion between 8am-9am into the CBD on weekdays. Just like we know that the likelihood of a cyclone brewing off the coast of North Queensland during winter is almost nil. We know this because decades of data tell us so.
By overlaying rich data from various sources (your business, your carriers, weather reports, traffic reports etc), the new efm app could apply predictive analytics to determine the probability of various scenarios to help you make informed decisions that improve supply chain efficiency.
Imagine a future in which:
- You know ahead of time that a particular carrier is going to be disrupted.
- You can see a congestion in the network several steps ahead.
- You know that the carrier promising an ETA of 2 days has a 95% chance of being delayed by three.
Predictive analytics can provide this insight and help you to make better decisions.
How we set up for this future
This future relies on high-quality, robust data collected over many years. It is critical that there is enough data from which to draw on and that the data is accurate to create a reliable prediction of future events.
Our existing multi-carrier dispatch platform, OneFlo is fit for purpose. It is an intuitively-designed, user-friendly portal with many value-adding features and a tracking portal that provides visibility into the status of consignments and PODs. It is a trusted platform for businesses to boost efficiency.
But to be ready for the future, we need to design for the future. Rather than retro-fit a legacy system with various bolt-ons, we are building from the ground up a state-of-the-art new technology system.
It will provide more digital capabilities, improved reliability and performance, and above all, greater agility in meeting evolving customer requirements.
A customer-centric process
We are creating our new app with customers at the centre. We are connecting and collaborating with senders throughout the product development cycle to ensure that the software we create is both useful and useable.
Since commencing the design of this new technology we have already spent many hours in collaboration with a broad customer base to understand their goals, pain points and ways of working. This approach has enabled us to identify opportunities for new design features.
Warehouse staff from a range of companies have and will continue to provide valuable input into the development of the features of the platform.
Our development process involves:
- Discovery: We connect with a broad range of customers to understand their goals and pain points and identify opportunities and problems to solve.
- Design: We ideate potential solutions and use prototypes to connect with customers throughout the design phase to ensure the solution meets their needs and is fit for purpose.
- Build, measure, learn: We build and ship the feature and analyse quantitative and qualitative metrics to continuously improve the product.
Problem areas we have explored include:
- How might we streamline the dispatch process to increase operational efficiency?
- How might we reduce the training needs for new team members?
- How might we improve data quality as it is a foundational principle that will enable future capabilities?
- How might we surface insights at the right time to help customers make better decisions?
- How might we ensure that the right truck arrives at the right time to collect the goods from the warehouse?
All our customers are invited to participate in this process. Many a donut box has been obliterated by warehouse teams eager to provide their input in the design development!
Progress to date
The first iteration of the platform is live. We have successfully onboarded existing OneFlo customers, who fit the feature and carrier mix of the new efm app.
We are continuing the process in earnest, creating and releasing new features, bringing on new carriers and onboarding new customers over the next 12 months. Already, the experience is improved for senders and carriers in myriad ways.
Improvements to date include:
- Increased efficiencies in data entry at the time of consigning.
- Encouraging clean data and reducing duplication through data validation in real time.
- Improved data quality e.g. requiring explicit packaging types (carton, pallet, skid) to help with carrier communications and sender reporting.
- Increased accuracy of quoting with more upfront fees displayed.
- Surfacing only relevant and applicable services for selection to help with decisions.
- Simplified workflows and processes: single-page consignment form, easier access to connotes, labels and manifests.
- More flexibility in the system to allow editing consignments right up until the last point of manifesting.
What next for logistics managers
As we roll out this technology more widely, now is the time for businesses to take stock of their logistics technology solutions.
It is important to consider whether their technology platform is currently delivering as much value as possible, and whether it will be able to leverage more sophisticated technological advancements in the future.
To help logistics managers today set up for success tomorrow we recommend these three steps:
Step one: Gather the data in one place
- The first step is to ensure you are using centralised logistics software. When you have multiple providers and products – for example an ERP, a TMS, and a consigning platform –the data is contained in silos, disconnected from the rest of the supply chain. A centralised platform like the efm app on the other hand, provides a single source of truth. Using it to collect data in the one place also sets you up to apply predictive analytics in the future.
Step two: Ensure the data is clean and robust
- Predictive analytics is only as effective as the data it is based on, so it is absolutely critical to ensure the centralised logistics software captures accurate, complete, consistent and valid data from the beginning.
Step three: Lay the groundwork of sound supply chain strategy
- With any supply chain strategy it is essential to be clear on your goals and performance metrics. A dedicated efm account manager can partner with you to address your business imperatives – customer satisfaction, resource efficiency, speed etc – and lift your baseline performance.
Carving out competitive advantage
The current technology of efm’s proprietary software platforms provide best-in-class technology to provide deep visibility into the supply chain. We are building the platform to be fit for the future.
With insights informed by abundant, quality data, the new efm app will be capable of leveraging advanced technologies with predictive analytics enabling you to make superior decisions that better serve your customers, improve efficiency and even, carve out competitive advantage.
To speak with us about migrating to the new efm app please contact us.