The following is an excerpt from an article originally published in eDelivery on April 14, 2016:

Data_retail_operationsIn late March, we published a number of articles that focused on the use of data and technology in the retail operations and logistics space.

At the time, several eDelivery readers contacted us to share their views, especially when we invited opinions on the role of tech and data. We also asked people to tell us what that oft-used phrase big data means to them.

Southard Jones, VP of product strategy at Birst, sees two potential obstacles where the smarter use of data in retail operations and logistics is concerned.

“The first challenge is how to bring data from across the supply chain so that it can be used for managing operations more efficiently. This is difficult because it relies on pulling together information from multiple sources and systems, and then making it usable across procurement, logistics and operations.

“A good example would be looking at how spending is managed. For the supply chain team, monitoring that budget is spent with approved suppliers and terms are being met will be critical areas to track.

“But on the logistics side, order management and SLA tracking will be more important. Looking at these areas together, it’s possible to significantly reduce costs and improve service.

“The second challenge is how logistics and supply chain operations link into the wider business picture. Too many times, decisions made elsewhere within the business can lead to unexpected and higher costs around supply chain management. Areas such as marketing rarely share data with the supply chain team, yet a successful campaign can lead to more goods being shipped or products ordered. If supply chain and procurement teams are involved from the start, they can supply data that can make marketing even more effective.”