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Supply chain connectivity: together is smart

Driving desired levels of supply chain connectivity in the digital age is data – big data. As evidenced in annual Third-Party Logistics Study, both shippers (97 per cent) and third-party logistics providers or 3PLs (93 per cent) feel strongly that improved, data-driven decision-making is essential to future success.


SC_chrobinson_2Arguably, better data has long driven incremental improvements in reliability, efficiency and reporting. However, for supply chain management, big data is a different beast, explains Jeroen Eijsink, European president at leading freight forwarder C.H. Robinson. “When business leaders or data management professionals talk about big data, they often lay the emphasis on volume, but there is so much more to it than that,” says Mr Eijsink.

“Big data impacts our reaction time, and supports greater agility and integration. It can unlock significant value through transparency and deliver precisely tailored services. Its sophisticated analytics substantially improve decision-making, minimise risks and unearth hidden insights. In the right hands and minds, big data isn’t just big, it’s clever.”

For supply chain management, the main benefit of big data analytics is customer service. Even the best managers cannot hope to keep up with all the sources of their goods, much less factor in best prices, locations and shipping speeds, while staying abreast of standard needs and special orders. The C.H. Robinson internally developed, global technology platform Navisphere® provides that information in an easy-to-use format.


Navisphere® is a single-instance global platform. That means everyone, everywhere is working on the same file at the same time. It doesn’t matter how or where freight is being moved, in any or all of more than 100 countries. Everything is on one system and visibility is global.

By merging and optimising delivery networks, Navisphere® can translate this mass of global data into actionable intelligence. Its analytics offer the advantage of being able to assess all shipping modes and regions in a single tool – no more stitching together numbers and trying to compare different metrics.

Furthermore, because Navisphere® is able to manage any kind of shipment in all geographies, there are no boundaries to the savings strategies possible for customers. Some of the best logisticians in the world are on the platform to identify opportunities for supply chain improvement.

With Navisphere®, planning and routing, pick-up and delivery dates, real-time tracking and tracing of inventory in motion are just the beginning. Mr Eijsink says: “With greater visibility, you’ll see how different events affect your supply chain. You’ll know the cost of pallets, unloading and detention. When a truck is late because the product isn’t ready, you’ll identify an efficiency issue to correct. You’ll know when delays result in expedited shipping. This kind of knowledge at your fingertips gives you the competitive advantage you need.”


Of course, without the right human resource in the equation, data and systems alone cannot guarantee quality of service.

Every day, more than 110,000 companies around the world connect to the C.H. Robinson network, generating more than 6.5 million customer interactions, whether via e-mail, phone, text or Instant Messenger. To service that level of connectivity calls for motivated, multilingual and customer-focused employees, who can apply local knowledge and expertise to every transport challenge, and build strong, personalised relationships.

Joined-up people, make for joined-up thinking. Mr Eijsink concludes: “We believe in the mantra ‘Let smart people take smart decisions’ and Navisphere® is here to help us help you. We are in supply chain management together – and together is smart.”

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