The importance of data strategies

On the agenda: ports should already be talking about data strategies On the agenda: ports should already be talking about data strategies

1-Stop Connections’ Jeremy Chee explains why ports need to be more data savvy

We often take for granted the information that we have at our fingertips and how that impacts our decisions. Think about how we search for a place to live or buy (remember how you use to search for property in newspapers?) or finding out what the weather is like to see if it’s a good day to do the washing or not.

Thanks to Google, Apple and the like, the way has now been paved so that the information we require is often easy to access when we want it, and how we want it. The downside of this advancement is that our personal expectations transfer to our business world and you would not be alone if you wonder, “Why is obtaining data critical to my business decisions so difficult at times?”

Having spoken to stakeholders across the globe, this is an issue and a major one at that. There often exists a ‘black hole’ of information which the supply chain then flexes around to compensate from this lack of information. Whether this deficit in information relates to container availability, vessel schedule, detention times, customs status or holds, transport movements … the list goes on and on. Herein lies the problem: this never-ending list of information asymmetry is something that is often accepted and not holistically planned to overcome. This is where data strategy for business or for the industry plays such a pivotal role.

Data strategies are, in simple terms, “a plan over the short and long term to obtain data that will impact key decision points in your business”. The simple part is outlining the data you need – just ask any of your operators and they will tell you immediately. The challenge, then, is in obtaining this data and thinking outside the box to understand how this data can significantly change your business. Whether buying this data, using technology to obtain it, or even changing business process to secure it, what needs to be understood is the value of this data to your business.

 

Long game

It should also be understood that this is not always a quick fix. As always with business improvement there are some quick wins, but it is an evolving journey that will underpin decision making in the long term and can eventually lead to end goals of optimal decision making.

The idea of optimal decision making is a shared goal, but a goal that may seem on a different horizon. Fundamentally, there needs to be standardisation of information and data with regards to customer interaction both internally and externally; there is no point in having this data if no one can use it.

From a personal viewpoint, if you haven’t started the discussion on data strategies in your business, start today. Discuss what you are missing and what is critical. Importantly, do not do this in isolation, but rather with a good view of the business outputs that can be obtained. Have a clear understanding of what can be achieved and choose a good starting point to commence a pilot that can achieve quick but valuable results. The way technology and information is increasing I would say that the adage “it’s never too late” does not apply here. But if you want to achieve or maintain a competitive advantage, why wait?

Jeremy Chee is general manager strategy and business development at 1-Stop Connections.

 

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