Big Data and How Your Company Can Profit

It’s time for manufacturers to take a closer look at Big Data. In a recent study conducted by the research firm Gartner, 73% of businesses have invested or plan to invest in Big Data in the next 24 months. Big Data is getting a lot of attention.

Big Data Defined

Big Data is a misnomer. It really isn’t about the size of the data, but more about what you do to make it meaningful and worth the time you spent collecting it. For example, The Lake Companies is a vendor for a powerful ERP program called Infor SyteLine (CloudSuite Industrial). SyteLine is a data collecting machine on steroids. It collects mountains of data, but as many are well aware, data means nothing other than endless reports printed on paper. It’s what you do with the data that can help your company. So how do you leverage that data and use it to your advantage?

Start with Fact-Trak, a data analytics module designed specifically for interpreting SyteLine data. It sifts through the forest of data, turning it into information that provides you with clarity and greater intelligence that you can use to manage even better.

Think of the librarian at your local library. A library has thousands of books and somehow the librarian can guide you to the information you are seeking faster and easier than if you tried to find it on your own. Unfortunately, the same librarian has no knowledge at all about new books that are just published. Those books have the most current, state-of-the-art ideas and strategies, written on what is happening today, but the librarian doesn’t even know they exist.

Reports are like the librarian. They are good at pulling together old, out-of-date data, yet know nothing about what is happening right here, right now. Old data can be good. It can prevent you from making the same mistake over again, but consider a football game. In fact, consider the recent victory of the Patriots over the Falcons in the NFL championship. Do you think the coaches managed the football game by waiting for the box scores in the next day’s newspaper? Absolutely not. They evaluated dynamic information that was immediate and you could see them changing their strategies and communicating it to their players in the very first quarter. They managed in real-time, on the field of play, because waiting for tomorrow’s paper meant total defeat.

You have to manage on the field of play, every day, by everybody and cannot wait for the job close report or the inventory valuation report, or the profit and loss statement to come out next week or next month to fix problems that are happening right now. That is the difference between winning big and losing in today’s economy.

Value in the Data

With The Lake Companies’ Fact-Trak, you’ll have in-depth data analysis which will help you to increase sales even more, improve your profits even faster, and streamline your operations to make your business even more successful. You’ll have insight into:

  • Customers
  • Sales
  • Delivery Performance
  • Inventory
  • Vendor Performance
  • Jobs
  • Accounting
  • Schedules
  • Payroll
  • And much more!

Imagine being able to view your month-by-month inventory investment and graph the speed of change (either up or down) to your changes in sales. If you saw inventory growing faster than sales, with a simple drag and drop, you could see it by product type or family code, exposing the items that were causing the problem. Another slice would give you related inventory turns.

Or how about seeing the efficiency and actual utilization of your machines and cells by the day of the week? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if efficiencies, quality, or downtime vary by the day of the week? Big Data can provide that information where you can put strategies in place to make improvements, and even more importantly, to be able to measure the results and monitor the progress in real-time.

The benefit of Big Data is that it brings exposure and clarity to problems in a way that allows you to take immediate steps to resolve them. Reports are just a snapshot in time that do not allow further analysis. There is no way to our knowledge that you can drag and drop a report, other than to drag and drop the stack of paper over to the shredding machine because the data is already out of date.

International Data Corporation (IDC), an international market research firm, reported, “…organizations that are best able to make real-time business decisions using Big Data solutions will thrive, while those that are unable to embrace and make use of this shift will increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the market and face potential failure. The growth in the number, size, and importance of information assets is not limited to just large government agencies, large enterprises, or Internet web sites. A wide variety of organizations, ranging from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to large enterprise and government agencies, are dealing with a flood of data.”

Getting Started

An important fact that you need to be aware of is that information is an asset while data is a liability. If you cannot harness data and turn it into information that you act on, then your business, division, department, etc., is losing big money as a result. How much money? Well that is hard to say, but it is worth reading Why Efficiency Matters to understand how good or bad it can get.

With today’s technology, there are no longer any barriers to Big Data analysis, even for small companies. Yet there are mistakes made every day. Big Data is not a module that you get from some 3rd party that allows you to make some fancy reports. There are a whole lot of Business Intelligence providers, even ERP providers that see it as a module. Unfortunately, a new module or an independent application is not the answer. Big Data must absolutely be spun into the threads of the fabric of your entire organization, seamlessly fitting into operations, with the right and necessary information flowing to every member of your staff.

Fact-Trak is part of an ecosystem of highly integrated solutions from The Lake Companies that leverages Big Data in a way that is so seamless, yet simple, elegant and powerful that it promotes a “self-managed company.” From the shop floor to the executive suite and all points in between, we refer to the new reality and our ecosystem as MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management). MOM will propel your business to even greater success.

As we have always said, “he or she who has the best information WINS!” To learn more about what Fact-Trak and MOM can do for your organization, contact The Lake Companies.