Siloed data remains the biggest inhibitor for supply chains — and end consumers are feeling the pinch.
Despite millions of data points scattered throughout today’s supply chains, tracking and measuring performance metrics isn’t always easy. This is because the shipping process is riddled with inaccuracies as information is shared between different companies and systems of record, usually via electronic data interchange or manual back-and-forth emails.
These misaligned data sets create a number of issues across the supply chain, including friction between businesses attempting to reconcile discrepancies and a lack of understanding around the root cause of supply chain failures.
Take the shipping process between big-box retailers and their vendor partners, for instance.
Sharing information isn’t so seamless, as it’s often the brand manufacturer’s transportation team, the broker and the trucking company working in different systems. Such data inaccuracies lose supply chains billions of dollars from unjustified chargebacks and poor procurement decisions.
Data discrepancies throughout the shipping process frustrate every stakeholder and hamstring shippers’ ability to quantify the true cost of procurement. But it’s the end consumer who’s left to foot the bill in order for the supply chain to maintain margins.
Costs like chargebacks and transportation penalties are difficult to tie back to the root cause of failure, and are therefore traditionally accounted for in the cost of goods sold and passed on to the end consumer.
“The challenge around aligning a source of truth is that a retailer will say one thing, the shipper will say another, and the carrier will say something else,” said Brian Cristol, co-founder and CEO of Isometric Technologies (ISO).
One would expect supply chains to be seamlessly connected, but Cristol notes that communication gaps remain wide. He said stakeholders are still having to export information from their systems of record and email back and forth to get orders moved through the supply chain. Because email remains the primary means of sending and receiving updates throughout the shipment life cycle, obtaining accurate information can be tedious, especially when errors are identified.
“Now, you can imagine that consistently working this way all of the time can create a lot of challenges and ambiguity in the data accuracy because you’re left with different and misaligned data silos,” Cristol said.
The ambivalence of such tribal knowledge often results in shared information being mismanaged. As a result, many errors are never corrected.
“When the data’s not right and stakeholders disagree, it has a compounding effect requiring more manual auditing and inefficient workflows to figure out what’s wrong and what needs to be corrected,” Cristol said. “That means additional people, manual forensics, and back-and-forth emails, which all equate to unnecessary rising logistics costs.”
But it’s nearly impossible to accurately assess the root of the issue with such large volumes of third-party data. Who has time to fact-check another company’s data?
That’s where ISO comes into play, offering the supply chain’s first logistics performance intelligence platform.
“ISO was created to fill the unmet need for reliable and verified third-party performance data,” Cristol said. “We’re solving a massive performance measurement and data management problem in the supply chain. Working with your brand manufacturers, shippers and their transportation networks, ISO aligns their data to create a single source of truth.”
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer John Stauffer explains how ISO’s platform, or logistics performance intelligence software, identifies bottlenecks in the supply chain and contextualizes them so that organizations can make smarter decisions moving forward.
For example, if a late order to a big-box retailer is going to cost a shipper a percentage of the order value, ISO informs parties responsible for costs incurred from chargebacks and service-level failures.
“ISO will attribute that penalty to the responsible party through our workflow so that a cleaned data set is aligned between the shipper and their transportation providers that helps them understand what happened, where it happened, when it happened and how much it cost their business,” Stauffer said.
What’s more, ISO drastically reduces the need for manual data scrubbing, giving workforces time to invest in more profitable activities.
Cristol and Stauffer first recognized a need for greater time savings during their time at Uber Freight, where the two were driven to build out the most efficient workforce possible. While carrying out studies, both business partners grew frustrated with the outsize amount of time spent on data reconciliation through scorecard scrubbing.
“We realized there was a huge opportunity in the market to introduce a neutral platform to streamline this process,” Stauffer said.
Cristol added: “No one else was focused on this massive workflow problem that was causing these challenges around data, procurement and supply chain decision-making that relies heavily on accurate data. That’s essentially why we started the ISO business.”
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