Real-time analytics boost supply chain quality

By Dr. Dale Skeen,

Co-founder and CTO of Vitria

Striving to become an integral part of the customer's routine, there's no room for unreliability or variation — predictability rests at the heart of the value proposition for QSRs across the board. Consequently, customers have historically tolerated preservative infused glorified hockey pucks disguised as burgers with a side of greasy fries and a sugar-laden soda drink and called it a day's dinner.

However, there's been a significant shift in the market around consumer expectations on quality, freshness and healthiness of ingredients — no preservatives, nothing frozen — and it's wreaking havoc on traditional supply chain management.

QSRs that are figuring out how to effectively manage the supply chain to reliably deliver fresh, high-quality product offerings at significant scale and favorable margins are poised to ride the growth crest. In a June, 2013 market research study conducted by the NPD Group, consumers reported that "quality for the price" and "fresh ingredients" are the top two considerations for selecting a QSR.

For QSRs to meet these market-driven demands, there must be a closely controlled end-to-end view of the supply chain. With the complexities created by multiple vendors, regional warehousing and delivery systems, highly perishable inventory and scores of storefronts scattered across the country, managing the supply chain end-to-end presents a quagmire of interrelated operational complexities.

Real-time Big Data analytics closes the operational gaps across the supply chain by empowering QSRs to capture and correlate data across diverse sources to detect and adjust workflows to remedy problems before customers or the broader organization are negatively affected. With real-time insight into what's happening in the field, QSRs improve both their operational efficiency and customer experience.

Through close end-to-end control of the supply chain, QSRs improve margins, reduce spoilage rates, mitigate out-of-stock risk, and — most importantly for the brand — deliver a consistent, quality product each and every time at each and every storefront. And when seasonal and promotional programs crop up, leveraging real-time analytics to plan for the variation and monitor the execution protects the supply chain from costly disruption.

On the customer experience side of the coin, the value proposition hinges on consistently offering quality fresh ingredients at a reasonable price. With improvements in key operational metrics delivered by real-time analytics, QSRs can provide this level of quality and value without shrinking profit margins. Lower spoilage rates, perpetually in-stock product and warehousing and delivery efficiencies direct translate into higher profit.

Real-time analytics provide the timely insight that QSRs need to provide the quality and freshness that customers expect while protecting tight margins in the process. By presenting an end-to-end view of the supply chain and correlating diverse operational events in real-time, detecting problems immediately and automating remediation, real-time analytics both drives operational efficiency and improves the customer experience overall. In the QSR business every penny counts — both for customers and providers — and real time analytics ensures that value is maximized all around.

Dr. Dale Skeen co-founded Vitria in 1994 and oversees the technology direction of the company. He has more than 20 years of experience designing and implementing large-scale computing systems in the areas of distributed computing and database systems. Dr. Skeen has also contributed to 10 books and written numerous journal articles on distributed computing and integration technologies. 

Photo provided by Wikimedia.

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