Any organization that sells a tangible item knows that balancing supply and demand is critical to business profitability. But with rapidly changing inventory levels and unpredictable consumer demand, striking the right balance is tricky. And wading through rows and rows of numbers in unwieldy spreadsheets doesn’t make it easy to spot trends and adjust supply as necessary.

That’s why smart businesses are turning to visual analytics solutions. With visual analytics, you tap into real-time data, giving you the ability to see how market conditions are changing so you can respond accordingly.

A robust visual analytics solution can be embedded directly into your supply chain processes and systems. It won’t be locked away in a separate business intelligence system, meaning you’re more likely to use the solution—and more use leads to better insights. Plus, each user can customize the visual analytics solution to their specific needs and filter the data to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Balance Supply with Demand

A visual analytics solution allows you take supply and demand information and convert it into data visualizations that all team members can understand at a glance. For example, you can quickly compare available units—your supply—with products on order—the demand.

Best of all, you can integrate data from your entire supply chain to take into account information from suppliers and vendors around the globe. And once you notice a mismatch between supply and demand, you can take steps to rectify the issue by reallocating resources. In other words, if demand for yellow shirts is far outstripping demand for blue shirts, you can simply reconfigure your order when it’s time to restock. You can also alert the manufacturer that yellow shirts are trending, so it’s time to bump up production.

Forecast Future Demand

By using real-time data with your visual analytics solution, you can analyze current and historical buying patterns to develop more accurate demand forecasts. By plotting your forecast by month and comparing the forecast numbers with actual demand, you’ll have a better idea of how much inventory you need to carry going forward.

If you see that your forecasts historically exceed demand, you can use that information to make more accurate predictions in the future. And if supply outpaces your forecasts in certain months, then you can ramp up production during those times.

Understand Sales Trends

By analyzing supply and demand, you can understand how your forecasts match up with actual orders and begin to develop insights into sales trends. Those insights will then assist you with better demand planning. If, for instance, you see a consistent spike in sales for a particular product in the fourth quarter, you can use your average production time to calculate when you need to ramp up production in order to meet that increased demand.

Best Practices for Supply Chain Analytics

The right visual analytics solution gives you—and everyone in your organization—always-on access to relevant data that you can customize and filter to meet your needs. That way, you can create easily shareable data visualizations, without burdening your IT department.

At iCharts, we’ve developed pre-built interactive dashboards that have been proven to optimize supply chains. Our iCharts | Cloud Enterprise customers can access these dashboards as a standalone product or integrated within leading ERP, SCM and CRM systems, including NetSuite and Salesforce.

Ready to use visual analytics to balance supply with demand, forecast demand more accurately, and develop insights into sales trends?