Analytics Shmanalytics… How Transportation Managers Can Gain Insight From Data

If your company is considering analytics, there are certain things that the transportation or operations department should research. Careful consideration during the purchasing process will be critical to how you are able to solve business challenges down the road. Transportation and operations managers can bring a lot to the table when it comes to venturing into analytics.

If you think transportation isn’t in the big data game, think again. GPS positioning data and vehicle data (critical events, engine performance, driver performance, and sensor information) from telematics devices classifies as big data with more and more information being added all the time. All of that pushes us into the big data arena.

If you haven’t jumped on the analytics train, have no fear. Gartner Inc. reports companies are in all stages of analytics adoption, with many still in the beginning phases.
In years past, use of analytic technologies was led by large companies with large staffs and deep pockets. That’s all changed. Today, it doesn’t matter if you have 5 routes or 5000+ routes. Analytic tools are affordable, easy to use, and available. If you haven’t started yet, it’s time to get moving!

Think about your Business Problems

Without doubt, selecting an analytics tool will expose you to some of the coolest technology around. You’ll be excited watching demonstrations of all the fascinating things an analytic tool can do, with a feature list longer than a novel.

  • Can it sort data?
  • What kind of metrics can I get out of this?
  • Can I click and drill?
  • How much history can I see?
  • Can I print a graph?
  • Can I export data to Excel?

These are all great questions that should be asked.  However, features don’t solve business problems.

As a transportation professional, you play a special role in the selection of analytic tools. You know your business; its strengths and weaknesses. You know what problems need solving. Where do you struggle and where do you need help?

What are your pain points?

  • Maybe you get three reports on Friday in a spreadsheet and that’s all you see. You need more visibility into the company.
  • Maybe your costs are increasing but you have no way to track those changes and the impact to the business over time.
  • Maybe you get all the information you need, but have to go to five or six different systems to get it. You’re tired of piecing together reports from multiple places.

Analytics is a tool to help solve these problems. Your role is to clearly define the business problems and keep the team focused on solving them.