One thing certain in today’s environment is that there is a never-ending supply of data. The real challenge is converting raw data into insights. One way to tackle this challenge is with a well-honed insights supply chain.

The concept of a supply chain is ideal for this work. Supply chains convert raw materials – in this case data – into a product – in this case insights – that can be stored and distributed to various interdependent members of the “network,” such as Marketing, Sales, Service, R&D, etc., in order to give your customer what they want, when, where, and how. These can be tangible or intangible products and services, including your customer journey touch points and channels.

The 5 Critical Stages on Your Insights Supply Chain

Supply chain insightThe Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, developed by the Supply Chain Council, identifies five supply chain stages: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver, Return. We can borrow from this model to identify five critical stage for the insights supply chain.

  1. Design Insights Supply Chain to Support Your Business Strategy: Michael Porter suggests that your supply chain strategy defines the connection and combination of activities and functions throughout the value chain, in order to fulfill the business value proposition to customers in a marketplace. Your company has a business strategy that hopefully leverages your organization’s core competencies. These core competencies are what enable you to best differentiate your company from its competitors. Your strategy is your plan for how you win customer orders/deals and grow. Therefore, focus your supply chain on customer, market, and competitor insights that will most help you deliver on your strategy and value proposition. Prioritize your insights requirements based on your business strategy. Not sure where to start? Gartner’s Customer Experience (CX) in Marketing Survey continues to suggest that companies are competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX. This may be a good starting point for your strategy and your insights requirements.
  2. Actively Design the Insights Supply Chain: Once you have alignment, the next step is to design both an effective and efficient supply chain. You want to predefine how you will move the materials and products through the stages of fulfillment. This work involves determining how you will obtain the raw materials and data, how you
    Supply chain insights design

    Convert data to insights

    will convert it into insights, and how you will distribute these insights and the associated recommendations to the rest of the network. Most likely you have some method of converting data into insights; therefore, the first step is to map and review how you do it today. Using the map, you can identify opportunities to improve the process. We often find this work is well suited for a working session. As part of this process, explore ways to reduce costs, such as the cost of acquiring or managing data, reduce rework, such as having to redo analysis because the requirements were unclear, and improve accuracy.

  3. Optimize Insights-to-Action Performance: It’s one thing to produce the insights, it’s another to deploy them. The performance of your insights supply chain should be measured against how well the insights are used to produce business success. The primary purpose of your insights supply chain is to produce business success and drive profitable growth. Growth comes from customers. Optimize and measure how well the insights are deployed and how these insights positively impact critical business measures, such as customer acquisition, win rates, customer loyalty, product adoption, cost to serve, and reduction in customer service issues. If you begin to see declines in these types of measures, add your insights supply chain into your root cause analysis to help you identify additional data or analytics that will help you “right the ship.” If the supply chain is not producing actionable insights or not producing them fast enough, re-evaluate the chain and its components, starting with the requirements and data.
  4. Manage your Supply Chain Suppliers: All supply chains are only as strong as their weakest link. Some of the links in your insights supply chain may not be within your control, such as data from third parties or channel partners. Use supply chain management best practices with your data and tools partners. Have a plan to address supply chain bottlenecks (data shortages or delays) and increasing costs (tools and technology) to avoid having your insights supply chain disrupt business performance.
  5. Data Management: Your ability to deliver insights are only as good as your data. The quality of your data significantly impacts the quality of your insights. Therefore, the need to manage your data is paramount. Develop and rigorously employ a data management plan. Your data management plan should outline how you will acquire, organize, inventory and analyze the data as well as maintain data quality. Include your data policy in your data management plan.

These five critical stages in your insights supply chain along with the skills to do the work are integral your organization’s long-term success. If you’ve got these five points covered, you are in good shape. If not, we strongly encourage you to make the investment of time.

Supply chains, including your insights supply chain, are the foundation for your company’s value chain and critical to successfully compete. The more proactive you are about managing your insights supply chain, the greater your opportunity to maximize customer value and sustain a competitive advantage. Shoot us an email if you have questions on how to develop and manage your own insights supply chain. In the meantime, check out our white paper, Intuition To Wisdom: Transforming Data Into Models and Actionable Insights.


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