How Big Data Can Help CFOs of SMBs Manage Inventory in Real Time


Big data is one of the hottest buzzwords in the business world today. When you combine some of its popular applications with the ability to track and monitor your inventory in real time, a whole new world of possibilities suddenly opens up for your business.

From monitoring logistical information and transaction costs to applications like risk management and social media analysis, there is literally no end to the things you can do with today’s modern technology.

Let’s take a look at some of the key ways that combining big data can help you manage your inventory in real time.

Logistics: Anticipating Demand

One of the most interesting applications of big data is the way that Amazon is using it to monitor and move their inventory between warehouses, tracking everything in real time.

The company performs high-level analysis on the extensive amount of customer and order data that they collect. They are then able to use this information combined with their real-time inventory management to anticipate where customer demand will be and move inventory into place ahead of that demand.

Imagine the advantage a restaurant would have over their competitors if they were able to accurately forecast how many chicken wings they were going to sell in a particular week in advance. That is the power that big data and real time inventory represent when it comes to logistics.

Transaction Costs

Penny pinching has a negative connotation, but most successful businesses understand that the best way to increase profits is to stop waste from slipping through the tracks. This is another area that big data can have an impact with your real-time inventory management.

Using big data to analyze every line item in your expenses and real-time inventory to contrast your stock levels, you might find that adjusting your inventory levels at certain points can save you huge amounts in various transaction costs.

Risk Management

Another way that profits could be slipping through the cracks is if your inventory is walking right out the door before you sell it.

Combining big data analysis with your real-time inventory management will allow you to set up fraud alerts so that you will know instantly if this is happening in your company. If so, you will be able to quickly identify the source of the problem and take action.

Pricing Decisions

Do you ever wonder if you should be charging more for those products that you just can’t seem to keep in stock? On the opposite side, how do you make decisions regarding when and how much to discount a product that isn’t selling?

Big data can help you assess your inventory and evaluate where you should be pricing your products according to the laws of supply and demand. Being able to monitor your inventory in real time will keep your pricing right where it needs to be at all times.

Analyzing Social Media

One of the more theoretical applications of big data is to monitor social media in an effort to gauge customer demand and anticipate what their future needs will be.

Few companies make good use of this analysis, but when you combine it with real-time inventory management, you could be quick to reduce your inventory levels when a product is becoming less popular.

As you can see, there are quite a few applications where big data can combine with real-time inventory management to either save your business money or make it more efficient. Being able to monitor large amounts of data to evaluate your inventory levels in real time will keep your company in the best possible position to make a profit and hold onto it.