Fixing Dirty Data

November 1, 2018 David Cahn

What users are asking for these days is an exception-based dashboard for end to end supply chain visibility and analysis. What the users do not understand is all the work that it takes to build the foundation and get in place the data for them to hit that button. Which brings us to the realization that every time we try one of these supply chain visibility projects… it fails because of bad data.

The problem in a typical BI program where you extract, transform, load, create a data cube and have the data latency does not answer that question for that user. However, a digital transformation data platform, not simply a “Control Tower”, provides a live dashboard with exception-based conditions requires investigation. Why?

Dirty data has been the underlying cause of failure for most business intelligence (BI) projects, plus the fact that most executives don’t want to know about every little detail, they only want to know about exceptions. Take for example shipment information – managers only want to know if their shipment will be late. They don’t need to be alerted that the shipment will be on time – only if something happens before an order gets there.

For complete visibility, data must be collected across the enterprise from disparate systems with unstructured data, along with data from Internet of Things devices, structured business documents, PDFs and blockchain. This is a lot of unclean data. The root cause of dirty data is a lack of standardized product and order information, and can be blamed on things like:

  • Product descriptions lack consistency
  • Missing vendor numbers
  • Lack of packaging data or ship-to data
  • Addresses different
  • Company names – example, use ABC, Inc. in one place and ABC in another
  • Misspellings of products, companies, addresses
  • Invoice and/or Purchase Order discrepancies – quantities, part numbers, order numbers wrong
  • Carrier, truck or vessel numbers missing or wrong
  • Third-party data lacks standardization

This is where Elemica leaves a lot of the competition behind. Elemica “cleans” data by standardizing it into an Elemica format. This cleaning layer within Elemica is built into the platform with the ability to pre-program business logic for shipments and orders across the trading partner systems. For example, one system uses the address 123 Third St., while another system uses the address format of 123 Third Street. Elemica’s systems collates and coordinates the data into a standard format so it is clean and useable. This data needs to be changed BEFORE your order management system can even except that order.

Once the data is clean, Elemica digitally links the data using proprietary technology on their cloud-based platform. This final aspect of the data requirement leaves every competitor behind. This is where the millions of dollars and custom code are typically spent in a digital transformation project.  This data can come from any system – GPS devices, ERP system, shipment data, logistics service provider info, etc. During the linking process, Elemica’s technology sequences the flow of transactions and data so the information is in the right process order, such as this product needs to go to shipping, then invoiced, then it can be tracked, etc.

Adding a “Pretty Control Tower UI” on top of this is the easy part. Elemica Visibility solutions enable the customer service rep to drill down into the GPS signals and visualize a map of the delivery and where it is at with geo-fencing. All automatically linked to a sales order that is in the ERP system and linked with the data from all those different systems. The customer service rep now has a true exception-based dashboard in real-time. A data transformation platform is the key.

Bottom Line: Data is the success factor for supply chain visibility and digital data is the underlying foundation for a digital transformation. Elemica expedites digital transformation with its state-of-the-art processes and technologies. With “clean” data, executives can make more informed decisions that will take the company to the next level.

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