In the past, at any point in this process, Crowley employees would sift through masses of data from different systems, cobbled together for ad-hoc reporting needs. This resulted in delayed information processing, lagging supply chain business visibility and a subpar customer experience, leading to more people trying to solve technical problems versus focusing on the business. The company had to find a single source of truth – one universal data repository, with vetted, governed, trustworthy data. Enter Qlik Data Integration. By unifying various data sources (such as Oracle, SQL Server and IBM db2, to Snowflake on AWS) the platform has enabled Crowley to begin its own data journey by creating a central repository, allowing the company to synchronize, distribute, consolidate and ingest data with minimal operational impact and cost efficiencies. In addition, Qlik has helped Crowley refine its KPIs while providing its customers and employees more efficient and accurate product location details within the supply stream.
The data consolidation efforts at Crowley are part of a larger modernization initiative underway at the company, which includes moving away from on-premise, Hadoop-based architecture to a cloud-based data warehouse strategy with Snowflake, and creating an end-to-end data integration and analytics solution for actionable insights.
“Most people don’t consider it, but there are many touchpoints in the delivery process of an item they order. Each one of those touchpoints needs to be recorded and the associated data documented, and the more touchpoints, the higher the complexity of the delivery,” said Amit Mittal, Director of Technology-Architecture, Data Platform, Dev & Support, at Crowley. “As a supply-chain company, we needed a solution like Qlik Data Integration to give us true, universal visibility into and verifiability of our source data, which is housed in many different systems. Not having to reconcile data from system A or vet data from system B by moving toward a common data model, enables us to inform decisions at the speed of business and uncover new use cases.”
One clear use case for higher quality, more uniform data is creating standardized KPIs. In the world of supply-chain management, these KPIs can include a range of measures, everything from perfect order, cash-to-cash cycle time, customer-order cycle time, fill rate, freight bill accuracy, days of supply, inventory turnover and more. One major KPI for Crowley is the optimization of shipping container use; each day a container is laying in a yard, not transporting goods, business opportunities are missed.
“As with most companies, sales forecasting, quality management, strategy development and customer service are typical business considerations. However, our capital equipment is our vessels. They are where the transport process begins,” said Mittal. “We could be transporting aviation fuel, cars or other cargo, but, at the end of the day, we need to ensure our containers and ships are being utilized optimally. With Qlik Data Integration, we’re well on the path to ensuring optimal use of our containers to better service customers and improve processes and operations.”
As Crowley looks to the future, it plans to continue leveraging the Qlik Data Integration platform. In doing so, the company will break down data silos, build data competency within its workforce, and accelerate the discovery and availability of real-time, analytics-ready data. This will help fulfill larger company goals of increasing visibility for customers into shipment traffic within the supply chain, improved forecasting and planning, enhanced internal management, and overall optimization of business functions across the entire organization.