We’ve all heard the saying that the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. However, when it comes to improving the bottom line for manufacturers, the same sentiment can also be applied to enterprise master data. And, like enhancing curb appeal of the house, organizations can increase the power of their data by examining areas where it overlaps with other types of information.
This is particularly true of location data, as it isn’t all that useful on its own and should be combined with other types of information for maximum impact. Once complete, it can unlock valuable insight from driving improved analytics, forecasting and business intelligence to informing larger strategic initiatives. As a quick exercise, consider any type of data your company absorbs, produces or manages today—be it product, customer, supplier or virtually any information about your owned physical assets—and ask what advantages you might gain by adding “where” to the equation.
Include the ‘where” to reap MDM value
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date location information about your company can be challenging, as data is often spread across multiple systems in different formats. Attempting to manage this data manually is difficult, and doesn’t deliver the benefits of combining location data with other information about your business. Needless to say, poor location data can reduce the effectiveness of your organization and expose you to unnecessary risk.
Many manufacturers are leveraging master data management (MDM) technology that works as a central hub for all location and site data and then integrates it with other data types and systems to drive data governance and support strategic decision-making.
More specifically, here are some examples of how location data can bring value to other types of master data:
- Product + location data: Product data is one area that can greatly benefit from the “where” dimension. Knowing which products are stored in which warehouses, understanding how new products are selling in different geographies, or even planning for workforce demand shifts at different store locations all provide potential value. If you offer products as a service, you likely have numerous ways you could apply location data to determine where your products are at any given moment and shift inventory to manage seasonal spikes in demand. Lastly, and depending upon the location, there might be different compliance data that needs to be gathered and made available to the consumer based on specific country laws.
- Physical asset + location data: Information from physical assets—from owned properties and buildings all the way down to individual machines and devices that require regular support and maintenance—is one of the best ways for manufacturers to gain value with location master data. For instance, if you manufacture a product that generates Internet of Things (IoT) data, it may also trigger a maintenance call or inquiry to your customer if values fall out of a certain range. By combining information about your products and where they’re located, you can manage a subset of that IoT data and build workflows that automate the process of repair scheduling. Alternatively, you could identify where your products are stored and drive analysis to make better distribution and supply chain decisions.
- Customer + location data: When delivering customer-centric products, services and customized offerings, location data can help here too. Think beyond just your customer’s address to gain an understanding of which stores they frequent in order to push the relevant sales and promotions. Today’s marketing landscape is filled with tools and apps that can offer richer detail using geo-location. So why not factor some of that data into your customer data management initiative to enhance your golden customer records? From a business to business (B2B) perspective, location data can enhance your understanding of where your vendors and suppliers are so you can better manage your contracts and relationships.
- + location data: Here a manufacturer should build a supplier hierarchy data model that displays the relationships between parent and child companies, identifies who your active suppliers are and then aligns all that information against geographic locations to drive supply chain efficiency.
These are just some examples of how you can add value to your existing master data by including location as an additional dimension to your data management projects. It’s no longer enough for manufacturers to think about their most valuable resource, data, as a static entity that exists on a server—or even worse, in a spreadsheet—somewhere by itself. The companies that will go beyond their competition are the ones willing to most creatively manage location data as a resource to unlock value and drive innovation.