By Paolo Mari At Metro Supply Chain, we have more than a few team members with their heads in the cloud. In 2021, we announced a $100 million investment in a variety of digital technologies, including automation solutions, business intelligence tools and innovative platforms to digitize and connect our clients’ data. We are always looking for innovative ways to help organizations optimize their operations and scale. If the pandemic taught us anything, it was that making incremental changes to the supply chain doesn’t cut it anymore. With supply chains pushed to their breaking point, it became clear that major investments were needed to take a quantum leap forward, which is what we are doing. Consumers expect to be able to buy and receive their goods how and when they want them and companies must meet these expectations or risk losing business, which isn’t an easy ask given the complex omnichannel experience. Real-time analytics One way we help clients deliver an exceptional consumer experience is by providing them with greater visibility into their supply chain. Increasingly, organizations need to track the status of their products – whether arriving from overseas factories or enroute to customers – in real time. In our experience, improved customer satisfaction is a direct result of improved efficiency. This means consistently getting products where they need to go as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. This is where real-time analytics make all the difference. When properly employed, analytics provide a constant flow of vital information that allows a company to seamlessly move its products faster. Companies must gather data and information on production, finance, human capital and other systems to fulfill goods and to anticipate disruptions that may require making alternative arrangements. Our investment is helping clients get more out of their data to drive those efficiencies. Our supply chain analytics team collaborates with clients to provide data-driven insights, which offer a holistic view of their operations, including financial, warehouse volumes, and distribution centre productivities. Our reporting tools translate directly into greater efficiencies and cost optimization. It is the difference between being able to explain what we are doing, and not just what we did. Your friendly data concierge We are also combining automation with analytics. For example, our AutoStore robotic hive facility in Ontario, Canada, offers a scalable multi-user fulfillment solution that dramatically increases storage capacity while making it easier to access inventory. The system allows millions of SKUs and orders that vary widely in size to integrate with the warehouse’s conveyors, high-capacity packing stations and high-density racking. The efficiency gains mean that clients can easily navigate unexpected demand spikes. Our technology is outward looking and designed to link up with our clients’ systems. This not only smooths the movement of products but also produces a wealth of information that can serve as the basis for further customization. Think of us as a friendly data concierge, always ready to answer any query with real-time numbers, from the onboarding of goods to last-mile delivery. Making more informed decisions In an increasingly competitive business environment, real-time insights help you react to changes in material availability and demand, which can improve forecasting models and allow companies to address issues and spot opportunities faster. We have learned that data-driven insights not only enhance existing business practices, such as forecasting, sourcing and inventory management, but the information can also be used across a company’s functions as a catalyst for new innovation and future growth. In addition, data may be used to find solutions to reduce a company’s carbon footprint from supply chain operations. Our analytics landscape breaks down data silos and fosters a culture of collaboration, leading to more informed and effective decision-making. All of this adds up to helping our clients gain a competitive edge. Packaged in visual dashboards, our analytic ecosystem integrates over 30 data sources to provide our teams and clients with a holistic view of the business. Leveraging our digital platform, we gather information from production, financial, human capital and other systems to provide insights that continuously drive change to our clients’ business and our own. Combining historical measures with predictive analytics and generative AI puts important insights at your fingertips – and the next generation of analytics is on the horizon. Improving the workplace At a time when labour is in as much demand as warehouse space, data-driven insights can also help retain staff. With better analytics, you limit the frequency of asking employees to stay late or not come in at all because you’ll have a clearer view of your workload, creating a more consistent and happier workplace. These teams may be behind the scenes, but they are an essential part of the value chain to ensure details like the consistency of quality or packaging are given the same care as what’s offered in-store to ensure a unified customer experience. These are the same teams that can help you shift to meet surging demand, ensuring you don’t miss out on time-sensitive opportunities. Aided by data that provides real-time insights and with the latest automated technologies, we can help our clients run their supply chains faster and more efficiently than ever. Instead of looking back to make decisions on the supply chain, we are now able to look at company needs today to help our customers make more informed decisions. In this way, we’re providing a higher level of transparency across our company that extends to clients.