Why Data Versatility Is The Key To Overcoming Supply Chain Volatility

Brandon Marcus
December 19, 2023

Less than three years after the Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal and shook global supply chains, the Suez was blocked– again.  The incident should serve as a stark reminder for supply chain leaders: what once was unimaginable could become a recurring reality. 

The 6-day blockage of the Suez in 2021 held up nearly $60 billion in goods, delayed shipments by an estimated sixty days, and caused billions more in losses due to manufacturing delays.  

Despite this costly lesson of the risks of single points of failure, many companies likely didn’t prepare contingency plans for a repeat occurrence. While reliance on the Suez Canal may be unavoidable, the dynamic and increasingly complex nature of global supply chains leaves us vulnerable to near-endless points of risk. 

To thrive in this environment, adaptability is essential. Your data systems and processes must be as fluid as the changes they're designed to manage. Let’s explore how Data Versatility is the key to defeating volatility in your supply chain. 

The Role of Data Versatility

You can’t know beforehand what you’ll need to know to address a problem.

Supply chain systems must leverage diverse data points and sources to manage and respond to volatility effectively. Yet many companies still rely on a fixed set of reports their systems were planned around years ago in a different world, leaving their operations too rigid for the fluidity of modern supply chains. 

In a volatile environment, even last month's insights may no longer be viable, let alone last year’s. To respond effectively, your data systems and processes must be built for change. 

You need Data Versatility: The ability to integrate and combine multiple data sources to uncover contextual insights and separate signal from noise.

With that in mind, here are a few data-driven practices for managing supply chain volatility:

Optimize Supply Chain Efficiency through Data Integration: Integrate data fragmented across operational silos to create a unified picture of your supply chain and drive a common understanding across teams. Assembling all relevant data points to match your reality ensures you can accurately assess the status of purchase orders and in-transit inventory. 

Use Data Versatility to Inform Decision-Making: Combine various datasets from orders, suppliers, logistics, and inventory and generate data-driven insights so you can make more informed decisions across every function of your supply chain.  

Adapt With Evolving Data Insights:. The ability to combine, repurpose, and remix data from different sources shortens the cycle to surfacing new insights that support tactical and functional agility. 

Risk Mitigation Through Agile Operations: Data Versatility allows your teams to identify issues proactively and diagnose them rapidly. With enhanced visibility and awareness, your teams will spot at-risk shipments early and reroute them to minimize exposure. 

Use Data to Foster Collaboration and Transparency Across Teams: Improve cross-functional collaboration and alignment by making data easily accessible and understandable to all stakeholders. Data Versatility ensures cross-functional teams can coordinate and respond to disruptions and exceptions effectively while also arming each team with the ability to use data in bespoke, function-specific ways. 

Overcoming Volatility

In modern supply chains, the only constant is change.

To thrive in the chaos, supply chain leaders must build an adaptable, flexible data infrastructure so their teams can quickly integrate new datasets and get the right information at the right time.

To learn how Unity SCM’s data platform can help you manage supply chain volatility and stay on top of operational risk, contact our team today!