Pandemic-fueled lockdowns and disruptions in transportation systems hit the supply chain and logistics industry hard. From empty shelves to skyrocketing prices, disrupted supply chains have brought on inflation all over the globe. According to the Labor Department’s consumer-price index, inflation in the U.S. alone rose above 8.5 % after averaging about 1.7% for the past decade.
A key challenge for the supply chain was that as businesses shut down during the pandemic, Point-of-Interest (POI) data – the digital representation of places in the physical world – became outdated very quickly. This data powers navigation, tracking, and procurement systems for supply chain operations. As economies have reopened, the demand for goods and the need to establish pre-COVID connections has radically increased and restoring supply chains has become a critical challenge for businesses everywhere. However, this restoration will require the ability to access updated POI data, which plays a major role in location-powered applications and use cases.
The importance of POI Data in supply chains
Businesses need accurate POI data to strategize logistics, ensure adequate resource allocation, understand their supplier and consumer relationships, monitor disruptions due to changes in the physical world, assess competition, and more. Analysis of POI data can also help supply chain and logistics managers gain visibility into the performance of their operations and inform decisions to maximise efficiency and save costs.
Supply chain and logistics operators of all sizes also require accurate POI data. For example, commercial delivery companies require information on the best route and the exact location of building entrances and loading docks. A retail food delivery service needs to know the precise location of the food pick-up window at a restaurant. And ride-share and cab companies need ready access to the correct pick-up and drop-off areas around businesses and in residential complexes.
Acquisition and procurement – Obtaining and moving goods is the foundation of supply chain processes, and accurate POI data is vital to this. As businesses reopen or move following Covid-induced closures, they need to be found quickly and easily by buyers to re-establish interrupted partnerships and business relationships.
Further, the ability to efficiently source raw materials, quickly move them to manufacturers, and then move finished goods to points-of-sale (POS) and consumers can be an important determinant in keeping costs in check. To achieve this, each link in the supply chain requires updated POI data to ensure goods can flow Accurately mapped digital platforms and navigation apps are vital for businesses to optimise route planning, automate decision making, and reduce last-mile delivery and logistics costs efficiently.
Powering navigation and tech platforms – In today’s digitized economy, there has been an explosion of innovative technologies developed to help manufacturers, distributors, and logistics service providers. Most of this technology relies on accurate maps and detailed information on business attributes. For example, GIS solutions and navigation applications need proper references of locations in the real world to function.
However, problems like apps leading delivery services to closed businesses, ZIP codes pointing to wrong places, and suboptimal routes that waste time and gas are all too common. For instance, POI verification data reveals an average 53 meters of displacement between existing addresses (dated pre-2020). A recent data refresh exercise also found that 59.5% of pre-2020 POI records are outdated and do not match the reality on the ground.
Accurately mapped digital platforms and navigation apps are vital for businesses to optimise route planning, automate decision making, and reduce last-mile delivery and logistics costs.
Asset management and business expansion – Supply chain leaders must also harness up-to-date POI data to assess the performance of their business. Location analytics powered by POI data can provide decision-makers with a bird’s-eye view into the performance of their assets, enabling them to stay on top of operations and gauge the efficiency of logistics at a granular scale.
POI data in combination with mobility data can also be valuable for asset managers and investors in expanding the availability of POSs, distribution centres, and other supply chain touchpoints, based on proximity to customers, fast access to transport infrastructure, availability of manpower, and more. Maintaining up-to-date POI databases can also provide a holistic economic picture of a region, highlighting its suitability for high-value supply chain investments.
Workforce optimisation – Transportation is the foundation of most business-to-consumer operations. Therefore, businesses require accurate, reliable POI data to optimise the performance and efficacy of logistics systems and human resources. Quality POI data informs route planning, helping drivers and delivery vehicles avoid traffic, streamline delivery routes, and make faster and more reliable decisions enroute.
As more and more businesses and supply chain and logistics companies shift from responding to the pandemic to dealing with today’s business realities, accurate, up-to-date POI will be an essential ingredient to optimising operations, keeping costs down, satisfying customers and building loyalty.
Note: This article was initially published on Datanami.
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