Although shipping involves the transportation of physical goods over long distances, intangible assets like data are actually among the industry’s most valuable commodities. Big data offers businesses and customers oversight of their products from anywhere in the world. And by analyzing data, companies can reduce costs and improve shipping times by creating new efficiencies in the system.
Data analytics is a natural fit for the shipping industry. Since delays are common, and shipping is frequently exposed to random vagaries outside of anyone’s control, companies naturally want to know as much information as possible, so they can make accurate predictions for their customers. Big data can provide companies with real-time route optimization, risk evaluation, service improvement, and more by incorporating nearly instantaneous updates on all kinds of information, including shipping delays, oil prices, or damaged products. It can also optimize the hard to reach last mile of operations, which is one of the most difficult aspects of the business. Companies can, therefore, manage expectations within their organization and with customers.
Data analytics is all about extracting useful insights that can be applied to the business. The information is typically gathered from sensors or GPS devices and then analyzed with mathematical and statistical models. This can help companies determine the best method for shipping, as well as the carrier and the mode of transportation. Depending on the quantity of goods needing to be shipped, it can be beneficial to companies to share shipping trucks to cut down on costs for all parties. For example, if companies utilize LTL shipping, which stands for less than load, then they can group their packages together.
Unfortunately, data collection alone is not enough to unlock savings. Executives need to translate that data into actionable plans. That begins with incorporating data analytics directly into the organizational structure. Businesses need to make the data transparent and available, identify patterns within the data, and then move quickly to change course as needed. A rigorous but nimble organization can provide the speed and efficacy needed to improve its shipping capabilities.
The shipping industry generates millions of data points every single day. If shipping companies can put this data to work, then they can potentially generate useful insights that will improve the quality of their business for their customers.