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Datawatch: Analytics Goes Viral – How Data is Used to Help Predict, Prevent and Curtail Outbreaks


Datawatch: Analytics Goes Viral – How Data is Used to Help Predict, Prevent and Curtail Outbreaks

In the latest blog in our Datawatch series, we look at the role analytics plays in keeping outbreaks at bay – from Cholera in the 1800s to COVID-19 today.

COVID-19 has changed the world dramatically in a short space of time, presenting new challenges for world leaders and medical experts alike. In fighting it, we’ve had to use all the tools at our disposal, and past experience tells us that advanced analytics is perhaps the most powerful weapon in our armory.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that analytics and data science are relatively new tools that today give us an advantage in our fight against viral outbreaks. In a sense you would be right, the tools and techniques used by data scientists have evolved significantly in recent years. But analytics has actually been used in this way for over a century, with one of the earliest examples taking place way back in 1854.

At that time, the residents of Victorian London were in the midst of a rampant cholera epidemic that had killed more than 600 people in a week. Little was known about these kinds of outbreaks back then, and many people assumed that cholera was an airborne disease. However, thanks to some rudimentary data analysis and modeling, Dr. John Snow was soon able to put this misunderstanding to bed.

Long before GIS maps were ever a thing, Dr. Snow began to gather data related to the cholera deaths and plot them, by hand, on a map of London. As a result of this early form of data visualization, Snow was able to trace the source of the outbreak to a water pump on Broad Street. The pump handle was replaced, and the outbreak was stopped in its tracks.

Amazingly, these same techniques are still used today – although visualization has improved somewhat. You can see how Dr. Snow’s work may look if it were carried out today, here.

Big data, analytics, and the fight against COVID-19

Although the theory behind this technique is still widely used today, we now have tools at our disposal that Dr. Snow could only have dreamt of back in 1854. Most notably, huge computational power that allows us to crunch massive amounts of data in record times.

This technology has played a huge part in our battle against the recent COVID-19 pandemic, helping medical experts and world leaders identify the right responses, develop the right solutions, and plot the best routes to recovery. Here are just three ways analytics has helped us to fight the pandemic.

Tracking the spread of the virus

Tracking the spread of COVID-19 has been essential in our battle to mitigate and overcome its impacts. It’s interesting to note that in this instance, analytics played a part in tracking COVID-19 before most of us even knew it existed.

In 2019, an AI system belonging to an outbreak risk startup called BlueDot detected some similarities between what the press was calling ‘a strain of pneumonia’ in Wuhan and the Sars outbreak of 2003.

Since this initial discovery, BlueDot has continued to track the spread of COVID and monitor its movements, using AI to analyze a wealth of unstructured data, including social media posts and news reports.

Social media can actually play a huge role in situations like this. By applying sentiment analysis to unstructured social data, it’s possible to track everything from the regions the virus has spread to, to the attitudes to proposed legislative responses and government guidance.

All of this data can then feed into action plans and help health officials respond more appropriately, accurately defining the best social distancing and quarantine measures, for instance.

Developing vaccines

As the pandemic trundled on into its second year, it became apparent that this wasn’t going to be something that just went away. And this meant that vaccination was our best chance of life returning to normality.

The problem though is that developing a vaccine typically takes years. Before Pfizer and AstraZenica, the mumps vaccine held the record for the fastest to be developed, and that took almost half a decade.

However, thanks to advances in analytics and AI, a COVID vaccine was approved and made available for emergency use within a year of the virus’ outbreak.

A large part of this was down to global cooperation, and the fact that virologists have encountered coronaviruses before. But data analysis and tools like AI and machine learning were also significant factors.

For example, AlphaFold, a tool in Google’s DeepMind platform, used AI algorithms to catalog the structure of potential proteins that could help the virus spread – a vital part of understanding how a virus works and how it can be contained.

AlphaFold is a state-of-the-art system that can predict the structure of proteins based on their genetic sequence. This system was used to investigate proteins associated with COVID, before the information was made openly available to scientists working on the vaccine.

With the same aim, AI and natural language processing have played a big part in applying analytics to the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset – a collection of almost 500,000 scholarly articles that are gathered from across the world and made openly available to the global research community.

Elsewhere, in a lab in Tennessee, the world’s second-fastest supercomputer has been crunching data in an attempt to understand how the virus behaves, analyzing 2.5 billion genetic combinations to ascertain how COVID attacks the human body.

Responding at the right time in the right way

COVID-19 has been perhaps the toughest test imaginable for healthcare institutions worldwide. With resources in short supply, difficult decisions have had to be made each day. For instance, what critical assets are needed in each location? And where and when will hospital beds be required as the virus moves through populations?

These problems can’t be answered by leafing through spreadsheets – there’s simply too much data, too many variables, and a picture that changes each day. However, using advanced analytics, healthcare officials have been able to make these key decisions based on vital, actionable and timely insights.

For example, epidemiological models have been useful in forecasting infection spread throughout regions, helping healthcare workers to predict the potential numbers of infected people that will require medical treatment – and what that level of treatment will look like.

Predictive simulation and scenario modeling have also been used to help forecast the required number of healthcare workers based on given scenarios, along with the strain outbreaks may place on healthcare services. This data has then fed directly into national lockdown plans.

One example of this in action can be seen at the Sheba Medical Centre in Israel, where data-driven forecasting is used to optimize the allocation of resources before outbreaks even strike. The center has used machine learning to crunch data related to confirmed cases, deaths, test results, contact tracing and the availability of medical resources, to ensure it’s prepared for what lies around the corner.

The center also led a national competition to develop the best technology for predicting the deterioration rate of COVID patients.

A step change for virology

The scale and speed of COVID-19’s spread have been unparalleled. But the scale of our response to it has been equally as impressive. Using the latest analytics techniques, healthcare workers have been able to prepare for unpredictable scenarios, governments have gained insights into the best actions for keeping people safe, and businesses have been able to take measured approaches to adapt to the world around them.

In the midst of this pandemic, it’s hard to find many if any positives, but the lessons learned during COVID-19 will have a huge effect on the way we tackle similar events in the future.

Whether it’s developing vaccines, ensuring the appropriate resources are in the right place at the right time, or fast-tracking our understanding of the situation to keep as many people safe as possible, analytics is able to provide the answers to the most complex questions these situations present. And it’s been doing so since the 1800s.


Nitin Aggarwal is the VP & Business Head of Analytics at The Smart Cube, a global provider of analytics and procurement intelligence solutions.

supply chain


In its 2013 report titled Big Data in Logistics, DHL proclaimed that “The logistics sector is ideally placed to benefit from the technological and methodological advancements of Big Data” and predicted “huge untapped potential for improving operational efficiency and customer experience and creating useful new business models.”

Today, the transformation of logistics to a data-based model is no longer a futuristic fantasy. The ability to create a digital ID, carry it through the supply chain, capture all transactions along the way and implement action against that data has now become a reality. Intelligent identification solutions exist to optimize item-level data captured at the beginning of a product’s journey, enabling full inventory visibility and accuracy, as well as enhanced routing speed for all partners along the supply chain. With product-level data, supply chain execs are empowered to analyze and make intelligent real-time decisions with the ebbs and flows of demand.

As a global industry, 3PL professionals need to understand the promise of identity solutions and the key benefits they offer. The first step for leaders across the enterprise is recognizing that the supply chain is not a set of standalone “links.” On the contrary, supply chains should be viewed holistically to leverage advances in data infrastructure that enable a total ecosystem of item + shipping specific information across each touchpoint of a supply chain. 

The Importance of Accuracy 

Among the many advantages of assigning digital identities to products is speed—and the key to speed is accuracy. Think of it this way: The utilization of item data throughout the supply chain enables speed with accuracy. 

Consider a logistics scenario with an RFID-enabled intelligent label applied at the source of an item. As the item begins its journey, the data captured and carried in that label enables shipment verification. When the “intelligently” labeled products arrive at a facility or warehouse, the recipient can quickly confirm that what was received is precisely what was expected. 

The data contained in the intelligent labels also allow outbound verification to the store or e-commerce retailer. In turn, the same label gives the retailer the inbound verification they need to move the items directly into inventory, with data that assures its accuracy. At the end of the supply chain the retailer has confidence that they can show the customer exactly what is available.

Shipping errors are another logistics challenge that can be addressed through accurate data. Currently, up to 4% of shipping errors are due to misrouted items that must be returned to the distribution center for re-routing. Legacy operations that rely on separate processes (with the six to eight touchpoints that a product moves through) increase the chance of such errors. Therefore, there is an operational benefit to routing solutions that are based on item- or parcel-level data to allow cross-docking optimization within the supply chain that enables greater speed accuracy. Put simply, velocity increases as accuracy improves.

Moving Toward Sustainability

As the supply chain becomes more normalized post-pandemic, back-burnered sustainability goals are re-emerging, driven by consumers, regulations, and cost—not necessarily in that order. The supply chain as an industry is being specifically tasked with sustainability.

A report from the management consulting group BCG stated, “By implementing a net-zero supply chain (the state in which as much carbon is absorbed as is released into the atmosphere), companies can amplify their climate impact, enable emission reductions in hard-to-abate sectors, and accelerate climate action in countries where it would otherwise not be high on the agenda.” This report also noted that “in most supply chains, the costs of getting to net-zero are surprisingly low.”

On the consumer side, a research study from Deloitte found that “concerned consumers are adopting a raft of different measures to shop and live more sustainably. One of the most prominent lifestyle changes is “shopping for brands with environmentally sustainable values.” In fact, over a third of consumers surveyed indicated that they value ethical practices in the products and services they buy. 

The data captured and carried in intelligent labels provide real-world efficiency solutions for achieving sustainability in logistics. One of the areas in which supply chains can address carbon emissions is in the transport of goods. One factor that deters sustainability in 3PL is trucks not being loaded to their full capacity.

In fact, our own studies have shown that up to 14% more volume can be loaded into a truck by utilizing key data that consider size and weight of parcels, creates the most efficient delivery route and considers other variables such as perishability.  Clearly, such sustainability initiatives have the potential to lower costs as well.

Caution: Hazardous Materials

There is yet another issue that is becoming more urgent and that is the prevalence of hazardous materials in the supply chain. First, it is necessary to define hazardous materials. These are substances or materials that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation has determined are “capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety and property when transported in commerce.”

These materials include hazardous substances and wastes, marine pollutants, elevated-temperature materials, and other materials designated by federal Hazardous Materials Regulations.

In supply chain operations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires these items to have “Hazardous Material” markings and/or labels. There are significant financial penalties for incorrect shipping identification, including accruing fines that can amount to more than $78,000 per instance.

Among the many items on the FAA’s list are the lithium-ion batteries used in many consumer products, each of which require the special markings and/or labels and have their own specific requirements for placement in cargo. Sorting solutions that use digital product identities currently exist to alert shippers where certain items, such as these batteries, should and should not be placed.

The importance of data in logistics will only increase over time. Deploying RFID intelligent label solutions at the source of an item will carry it safely, sustainably and quickly through all of the touchpoints along the supply chain—and beyond. The future of a data-enabled logistics eco-system is here. 


Michael Kaufmann is director, Market Development, Logistics with Avery Dennison. The company recently launched its the connected product cloud platform that gives unique digital IDs to physical objects for end-to-end tracking from the source to the customer and even beyond to take part in the circular economy. 


The Future of Warehousing

In September of 2018, Forbes Insights published a survey of 400 senior haulage executives. They reported that more than two-thirds of the respondents believed seismic changes had to occur within the logistics sector, otherwise its warehouses would risk not being able to facilitate the growing demand for freight delivery.

Three years and a global pandemic later, and demand for warehouses is higher than ever. So how has the industry endured this tumultuous period? The simple answer is greater investment in technology! Innovators within warehousing have continued to incorporate intuitive software into their models to cut costs, speed up delivery time and improve efficiency.

With this trend of incorporating technologies into the haulage sector only set to continue, the mind boggles at what warehouses could be capable of in the future. To that end let’s unravel the warehouse innovations set to be introduced in the coming years and what the biggest names are doing today to ensure they won’t be left behind.

Warehousing the Amazon way

We would be remiss not to mention Amazon in a discussion about the future of warehousing. After all, their network accounts for over 150 million square feet of warehouse space across the globe.

The company has, since its emergence in the ‘90s, being trailblazers for cutting-edge warehousing models. In the mid-2000s they popularized fulfillment centers whereby sellers could leverage the vast network of warehouses Amazon had to store, pack and ship their customer’s orders for the same standardized fee – no matter where an item was being sent.

Since then, many warehouses have attempted to adopt something similar to the Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) program and offer to not only store their client’s products but package and deliver them as well. However, none have been able to even rival the FBA. Namely because of one very appealing benefit that FBA offers sellers: Prime eligibility.

This legacy of advancement was further solidified by the recent announcement that Amazon was opening its first robotics fulfillment center in Alberta, Canada. The automated warehouse, slated to open in 2022, is the result of almost a decade-long investment.

In 2012, Amazon purchased robotics company Kiva Systems for $775 million which gave them ownership of a new fleet of mobile robots which were capable of carrying shelves of products from worker to worker and intuitively navigate a warehouse according to barcodes on the floor. Like the FBA program, it’s expected that many warehouses will use Amazon as inspiration and invest in some form of robotics to aid with automation.

Automation for all

As Amazon recognized, automation is the silver bullet when it comes to boosting a warehouse’s operations. Having a workforce that never tires, runs 24/7, and provides a near-perfect output is invaluable. It’s likely that every stage of warehouse infrastructures will have some form of automation in the next few years if they haven’t already.

Drones are expected to have a significant role in the future of warehousing, specifically in aiding inventory control. MIT conducted research in 2017 where they programmed drones to fly above a warehouse floor to read RFID tags from more than ten meters away. The study was a success with the drones only having a 19cm margin of error.

There are currently some safety concerns delaying the immediate integration of drones in warehousing but the continual developments of the technology suggest that we’re not too far away from seeing them introduced.

Automated conveyors and sortation systems have been staples of warehouse infrastructures for decades, now experts are predicting that a third system will become part of every warehouse’s arsenal. The ARC advisory group’s warehouse automation and AS/RS research forecasts that the shuttle systems market is going to grow exponentially.

For context, a warehouse shuttle system is a mobile cart that transports items in pallet racking. It replaces the need for an operative to use a forklift to retrieve stock totes, trays, or cases in a storage buffer. The system, which is also being touted as an essential by various trade groups, provides warehouses with high throughput, scalability, and storage density.

Considering that repetitive tasks can be mechanized fairly easily, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for what other types of automation could be introduced into warehouse infrastructures and the benefits that they will no doubt yield.

Big Data & AI

Big data and machine learning have revolutionized many industries since their proliferation in the early 2000s and it’s expected to do the same to warehousing.

Order and inventory accuracy, as well as fulfillment time, are all Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that could be improved through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can also evaluate more general drivers that may affect a warehouse’s overall performance including safety, facility damages, and employee productivity. Using this aggregated data AI is able to start automating tasks, collecting the necessary information, and making decisions on its own.

Some industry leaders have already made the transition and began using AI. For example, Alibaba recently fully automated its stocking and shipping warehouses in China by using robots controlled by a sophisticated machine learning algorithm.

Further down the line, many experts believe that more advanced metrics will come into play as well, such as predictive analytics which will give operators a helping hand when it comes to forecasting and drive smarter decision making in the warehouse’s overall operations. Predictive analytics will help with evaluating demand for warehouse space, planning inventory location, responding to supply chain issues, and reducing risks associated with more complex supplier networks.

It’s clear to see that the prospects for warehousing in the near future are bright with plenty of exciting technology currently in use and on the horizon. The industry’s willingness to constantly evolve is truly admirable, with interest in big data, automation, innovative models, and AI at an all-time high. We should all be very excited about the future of warehousing.


Why Strategic IT Should be at the Top of Every Executive’s Priority List

To say that technology has been important to business survival in recent years is certainly an understatement. In 2020, 70% of United States employees worked remotely, teams and customers relied on virtual tools to communicate, and a dispersed workforce led to additional concerns about cybersecurity. The result has been not only an increased use of technology, but also a heightened awareness of its role in driving strategic growth – and a long-overdue need for business leaders and executives to add strategic IT experts to their roster of trusted advisors.

From early in the pandemic, technology was inextricably linked to business success; in a world of physical disconnection, there was no longer a choice when it came to digital transformation. The truth, though, is that technology has been influencing the way we do business for decades. Consider the most mission-critical processes in your company; chances are every single one of them involves technology. From client onboarding and team communication to record-keeping and strategic planning, tech is not simply a part of your business – it is the foundation upon which it is built; an essential part of optimizing productivity; and the glue that holds teams, organizations, and customers together regardless of how or where they’re working. As you look towards resurgence and growth, you should be treating your tech just as you do any other foundational pillar – with strategic thoughtfulness and the expert input of business-minded advisors.

Making the Right Business Decisions About Technology: Four Key Considerations

While the importance of technology is more apparent than ever now, the ideal implementation of it within your business may not be so clear. With so many tools, vendors, and applications to choose from, finding the right ones for your company requires not only a willingness to embrace innovation but also the ability to marry technology to overarching business goals. When you do, technology becomes a competitive advantage that lets you work smarter, faster, and more productively: at companies that prioritize making tech highly accessible to their teams, employees spend 17% less time on manual processes, collaborate 16% more often, and make decisions 16% faster. As you consider how to make the right technology choices for your company, here are four key factors to consider:

1. Cybersecurity

Leaders have long known that cybersecurity was a necessary element of their IT support; organizations must have good cyber hygiene, or they could suffer loss of data, money, and reputation. Recently, however, a spike in cyber-attacks has begun to create a heightened awareness of the breadth of cybersecurity – so much so that the Department of Homeland Security recently launched a web page dedicated exclusively to addressing the challenges of increased cyber-threats. Cybersecurity efforts should go much deeper than firewalls and antivirus software; they should be built from a deep view of your entire environment to make sure you are accounting for security in every possible way. How far back should your backups go? Too far and you risk an outdated recovery point. Not far enough and you could lose a swath of critical data in one fell swoop. Is every employee trained in how to spot potential cyber threats? If not, they could easily and unknowingly compromise your company’s security. How many offices does your business have? How many remote employees? How do they need to communicate, and how sensitive is the information they’ll be sharing? All of these questions – and many more – should be at the forefront of your conversations with your technology advisors.

2. Data analytics

Data is the bread and butter of any company. It tells you who your customers are, how your team is functioning, your profit margins, your inefficiencies, the list is practically endless. As your company pursues overall growth goals, there is perhaps no more impactful IT consideration than data analytics. A consumer population that just spent a year and a half reassessing and reprioritizing is already proving unpredictable, and the deeper level of understanding that data analytics can provide will be crucial to ensuring you are addressing what may be brand new pain points – and winning their business. A skilled technology advisor can help you pinpoint the data that will drive your business goals and deliver it to you in a way that helps you make more informed business decisions more quickly. For our clients, we create custom dashboards to relay data about both their company and their industry at large, giving them a multi-layered analytical view of their business that helps them make research-backed decisions that directly drive revenue, productivity, and growth.

3. Automation

Automation can have a huge impact on labor and cost by allowing staff to devote their time and focus to the most complex tasks. In some cases, it can even eliminate the need for additional roles. With a record-high number of businesses reporting trouble hiring right now, this is critical to streamlining operations and progressing toward business goals with fewer staff. The idea of automation is nothing new for executives; it’s likely been discussed among their leadership team for years. What many may not realize, however, is how much it has evolved – and how cost-effective it has become – since those discussions began. The automation tools that used to require expensive, custom development are now simple enough for employees to build them with fairly minimal guidance. It’s estimated that nearly half of all work tasks can be automated by current technology, so working with your advisors to identify opportunities to automate can have a huge impact on your company’s efficiency – and bottom line.

4. Strategic IT consulting

As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to try to keep up with the rapid pace of changes in technology – and with so many other responsibilities on your plate, chances are you couldn’t even if you did try. Your IT team should be more than providers, they should be strategic and holistic advisors in the same way your accounting, financial, and legal advisors are. That means not only keeping you informed about the changing tech landscape, but also helping you connect IT solutions to your overarching business goals by talking to about your company, not just your technology. Do you have plans to expand? What type of growth do you anticipate in your products or services? What are your business goals over the next 12 months? What is your current market share and who are your competitors? What do you wish you were doing better? These are the meaningful, goal-based conversations your IT advisors should be leading to make sure your technology isn’t just working in the background of your business but is actively and strategically driving it forward.

Your Tech is Your Advantage

When you treat technology as a standalone concern – or worse yet, an afterthought – you miss out on the opportunity to leverage it as a major competitive advantage. The technology your company relies on isn’t just about new tools or security or even remote environments; it’s about all of these things working in tandem to move your business forward – not just toward safe and seamless tech, but towards your larger goals for revenue and growth.


About Anders CPAs + Advisors

For 55 years, Anders has delivered full-service accounting, tax, audit and advisory services to growth-oriented companies, organizations, and individuals. For 26 years, the Anders Technology team has helped businesses across all industries leverage technology to innovate, transform, and improve their bottom lines. Guided by an experienced team of advisors, Anders Technology is a Microsoft Gold Partner, the highest level in the Microsoft Partner Network. For more information on Anders, visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram: @AndersCPA.

About Julia Deien, Microsoft Certified Professional

As a solutions architect and Microsoft Certified Professional, Julia helps organizations achieve their growth by matching technology solutions to business goals. This happens through collaborating with clients and analyzing their technology needs and business processes. Using her expertise in the Microsoft cloud platform and industry knowledge, she consults, designs, and implements technology strategies to help Anders clients not only understand their business’ technology, but maximize its full power.

About Jason Gotway, VSP5, VMTSP, VCP550

Jason is a solutions architect and team lead with over 10 years of experience in technology and cybersecurity. Using his knowledge of methods used by cybersecurity hackers, Jason educates companies and individuals on best practices for staying safe in all things cyber and implementing efforts to avoid cybercrime. He works with businesses to develop customized cybersecurity strategies to keep their company and employees safe and productive, whether they work in-office or remotely.


eCommerce Success: How to Boost Store Sales Ethically

The surrounding reality dictates specific rules of the game. The world is changing, and very rapidly. Therefore, the ability to adapt to changes is a vital prerequisite for business development. In e-commerce, change happens very quickly. How to stay afloat in this business and achieve success ethically?

Register your business

First and foremost, if you want to be successful with your eCommerce business sales, you need to make sure that everything is okay regarding documents. The easiest way to do so is by registering your business online so you avoid all the paperwork and the hired company does these daunting tasks for you. No matter where you are in the world, you can seek help from Hong Kong company formation services to register your company in Hong Kong.

Plan ad campaigns

Data Management Platform (DMP) is a platform created for advertising marketing purposes as a tool for identifying the target audience. You get not just raw data on loyal customers’ discount cards but a full-fledged synchronization mechanism with the target audience. Using the entered card number, open letter, and other user actions in the network, you can track preferred purchases and generate data sets for conducting advertising campaigns for certain products.

Implement an omnichannel approach

It should be equally convenient for buyers to choose, pay and receive goods by all available means and immediately. You need to understand that omnichannel technologies are not created for the convenience of sellers but for the convenience of customers.

Today buyers choose, compare prices, closely study reviews and delivery conditions on the Internet, and only then go to the store to look, touch, and try on a thing. Or buy it for a promotion announced on the site. It often happens that sellers in stores find out about online promotions and sales from the customers themselves. The product declared on the site does not appear in a particular store, or its prices differ from the online offer.

The introduction of an omnichannel approach uses all possible means of communication with the buyer and greatly facilitates marketing research and sales tactics. For example, free Wi-Fi in a store will make life easier for customers and collect data on the movement of customers around the hall and optimize the display of goods.

Collaborating with a digital marketing agency

No doubt, we need well-functioning internal processes from the receipt of an order to its delivery to the buyer and receipt of money for the goods. You can build this process yourself or collaborate with professional companies such as Tactica, New Jersey SEO Company.

Working with reviews on social networks

Most shopping networking sites and online stores are integrated with social media. Even if one out of a thousand responses is helpful to improve service performance or fix deficiencies, it will pay off. To work in social networks, you need to develop special regulations with KPIs for feedback, response, and monitoring. Try to respond to user comments within 20 minutes.

The uniqueness of each client

Personalization of Big Data-based suggestions depends only on your ingenuity. You can greet the user by name on the site’s main page and in mailings or offer him products depending on geolocation and weather conditions. The main thing is to personalize a specific purchase as much as possible. For this, predictive analytics systems are already being created, which, based on user behavior (purchases, search queries, and surfing the web), determine what they may need in the foreseeable future. Alternatively, you can turn to an SEO consultant who can help you expand your online presence and increase your sales.

Channels of connection

Service automation is not only about having a contact center, where the client will be promptly answered not by a boring robot but by a friendly consultant, but also by many other channels. The call center should be integrated with social networks and messengers, and the voice communication between operators and customers should be made more informal. The operator’s on-call question at the beginning of the conversation, how he can help, rather irritates the client. After all, this is why he calls to help him. However, communication in online chatbots and answering machines, which receive requests from users around the clock, is irreplaceable. A full-fledged customer service based on CRM systems will allow you to automate processes as much as possible and competently respond to requests in a short time.


To ethically increase e-commerce sales, try to implement multichannel communications and modern sales resource management systems—leverage modern Data Management Platform (DMP) software platforms. Integrate retail networks and online stores with social networks. Personalize your offers as much as possible with Big Data. And, of course, automate CRM-based customer service using chatbots, social networks, and instant messengers.


Trends Shaping the Future of Electronics Manufacturing

The electronic manufacturing industry is one of the fastest-growing industries globally and has brought about changes in both businesses and personal life. It is estimated that the industry grew in revenue to about $2.4 trillion in the year 2020.

However, the growth is about to experience a new shift with the introduction of emerging and barrier-breaking trends that will shift the running of businesses, homesteads, and how electronic manufacturing is run. Although some trends and practices have been in the industry for years with emerging modern improvements and growth in the technology world, so has electronic manufacturing. Some of these trends take this industry to a new level.

Take a look at some future trends to watch out for in the electronic manufacturing industry and better understand how these trends manage to take top spots in shaping and directing the growth of the electronic industry.

Trends shaping the future of electronic manufacturing include:

1. Internet of Things

This is the connection of everyday devices through the internet, allowing easy sharing and receiving information through electronic devices. Internet of Things (IoT) has increasingly been embraced in electronic manufacturing with more companies, leveraging the benefits from IoT to increase device efficiency, improve consumer safety and cut costs.

2. Use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

By using virtual reality and augmented reality, manufacturers can design consumer-friendly products. Computer-aided designs have helped designers and manufacturers make accurate and timely changes to the products. Also, the use of VR and AR helps in designing and eliminates error and reduces inspection time as workers are better able to identify errors.

3. Use of 3-D Printing

A report by Smithers estimates an annual growth of 23% in the next decade in 3-D revenue. The report also shows the 3-D printing revenue growth is estimated to grow from $5.8 billion to about $55.8 billion by 2027.

The 3-D printing marketplace has a vast share around Western Europe and North America, where cutting-edge technology developers are pushing for increased mainstream use of 3D printing among technology companies.

Electronic manufacturing companies are capitalizing on their technological abilities and emerging trends. To ensure they remain competitive, it is important to work closely with equally fast emerging trends such as 3-D printing. 3-D printing developments are not only focused on the physical aspects but are also working on the design, the application, and the overall satisfaction of the end-user.

4. Big Data

Corporations worldwide have been exclusively using big data. Much of this was because it was expensive to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, advancements in IoT and other cutting-edge technologies have turned the tables. Now, businesses of all sizes can draw information from multiple sources. This has made big data more valuable than it was.

Consequently, electronic manufacturers are applying the information they receive from big data in various productive ways. For example, they apply it to minimize production costs while raising profit margins and market share. This is guided by the willingness of managers to gain more understanding of their businesses. This helps them to overcome various issues while projecting and preventing future challenges.

5. Use of Industrial Robotics

For years, the automotive industry was the leading driver in the growth of industrial robotics. However, this has changed, and industrial robotics have been used in electronic manufacturing to perform several tasks in recent years.

The widespread use of industrial robots in the electronic industries led to substantial growth in industrial robotics use in 2016, where global sales increased by about 16%. This number is estimated to grow over the years, leading to an increase in the global market.

The use of robots in electronic manufacturing has allowed miniaturization and reshoring. Moving forward in innovations, design, and the business running, manufacturers across the board are looking for ways to increase efficiency. The use of robots has proven an essential tool.

Besides future technological trends, manufacturing companies also need to look at some of the business trends that will influence the success and running of their business. Some of the future business trends to look out for include:

6. Use of ERP Systems

To keep a company competitive, companies need to enforce enterprise resource planning (ERP). Though this trend has been in use for some years, some worthy mention benefits of embracing this trend when looking to expand the electronic manufacturing industry include:

With the use of the internet in all operations, it is now more critical for a business to use real-time information; enterprise resource planning helps companies optimize and automate new information fast and in real-time.

Owing to fast access to real-time information, companies can act fast and make accurate and quick decisions. The enterprise resource planning has been through growth stages that have allowed its efficiency. However, with the growth of the electronic industry, the same is expected with the enterprise resources system with technological advancements working towards increasing reliability and ease in running the business.

7. Shift from B2B to B2B2C

For many years electronic manufacturing companies operated using the business-to-business (B2B) approach. But with more manufacturing companies looking for ways to cut costs. Companies are now turning to the business-to-business-to-consumer approach (B2B2C).

With the use of the B2B2C approach, companies are now working towards eliminating intermediaries, which helps them reach the clients directly; as a result, it increases company profits and, in turn, reduces purchase costs. Additionally, the B2B2C approach enables the manufacturers to collect accurate customer data, improving customer satisfaction.

Why these Trends

While these trends may seem like ordinary technological advancements, they have several things in common that make them unique. In a world full of innovations, new designs, and a desire to be effective, it is essential to have the following attributes in mind.

Working on cost reduction, most of the resources and trends making waves and promising success, reduces costs. Cost reduction will be beneficial to the manufacturing companies and cut the cost to the consumers.

Product efficiency, electronic devices are part of the world and the introduction and use of the internet across the globe. It is essential for manufacturing companies to not only provide functional products but increase efficiency. For instance, with the use of the internet, everything in electronic manufacturing, people can now have smart homes and have actual time footage on their homes or even offices. This is possible due to the electronic manufacturing innovations.

These trends have proven to help manufacturing companies achieve product precision, which improves quality and reduces costs and error.

Waste reduction, amid the technological innovations and significant electronic developments, is essential for companies to also focus on. This is not only a great way to cut company costs but is also an excellent way for these companies to preserve the environment.

Bottom Line

More people embracing electronic devices in their homes, places of work, and running businesses. Manufacturing companies have a massive task in ensuring consumer satisfaction by focusing on high-end innovation and working closely with other technology sectors to ensure they are competitive and efficient.


Linda Liu is the overseas marketing manager for MKTPCB, a leading PCB manufacturer that offers high-quality PCB products and services. Since 2012, she has established “first-of-its-kind” industry-changing and transformational businesses initiatives that increased revenue growth, brand exposure and market expansion for MKTPCB. Linda graduated from Western University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.


TMS – The Digital Disruption Enabler for 3PLs

It’s clear that digital transformation is rapidly upon us in transportation and is changing the way managed transportation 3PLs and truckload brokerages are doing business. Advances in technology, adoption of APIs, and huge disruptor companies are evolving the market faster than most can keep up. This transformation is only accelerating.

Disruptive Companies Are Changing Customer Expectations

Uber Freight, Convoy, and Amazon Freight are examples of the new digital freight marketplaces (DFM). A DFM is designed to allow shippers to book truckloads in the spot market electronically – usually over an app or an API. It’s a service that gives real-time truckload quotes, electronic tendering, and real-time tracking. If your business is primarily a classic brokerage, then this affects you.

The DFMs are already changing the way many shippers do business. These marketplaces are not going to erase classic brokerage, but there is no doubt they will change it and the way that many are doing brokerage. Not that classic brokerage is going away anytime soon, but we are seeing a rapid evolution of customer expectations. Customers’ digital expectations for visibility, automation, tracking, quoting, and payment are now growing and will soon evolve into general requirements.

To be clear, only very few companies with deep pockets can set up a DFM. A mid-sized brokerage firm trying to compete with what Uber Freight is doing is unrealistic. Instead, companies can look at their own strengths and carve their own path. LSPs (3PLs and Brokers) have the opportunity to write their own digital transformation story or run the risk of remaining complacent in a changing world of digital technology.

What Is Your Digital Transformation Strategy?

Every LSP company should be asking themselves how they are dealing with digital transformation. As an LSP, the details of digital disruption are unique to your business model, and it’s important to have a plan. Yet many companies overthink the issue or feel it’s too large of a task to do anything about. History shows us that most winning strategies come from simple core ideas, not just massive disruptors.

Innovative companies know that disruption creates opportunity. And it’s clear that the digital transformation going on in transportation will create opportunities. Every LSP needs to look at their own business model, figure out what makes them unique, and carve a path. It’s ineffective to try to duplicate what the high-profile companies are doing. It would be like trying to replicate what Amazon did for retail. Competing against Amazon in retail is reserved for the very few, yet many have learned how to profit off Amazon by creating their own specialized fulfillment model. The same is true of the digital disruption going on in transportation.

Very few companies should be looking to compete directly against Uber Freight or Convoy. Yet all should be looking at their own model and chart their own digital transformation path. This is where transportation management software like 3Gtms is uniquely positioned to help. It is not the system that will turn an LSP into the next Uber Freight, but it will serve as the central platform – the intelligent system of record that allows flexibility in how an LSP executes its own unique business model. A TMS is the central point of an LSP’s transformation – it’s the digital disruption “enabler.”

Putting a Digital Transformation System in Place

When it comes to system structure, the key to designing a good environment starts at the core. And a successful core includes functionality and automation that supports business objects, workflow, intelligence, and integrations. For an LSP, that system is their TMS, as the TMS runs their transportation operations. Call it their “central rally point” for information or their “single source of truth.” A technology that connects customers, vendors, and carriers while serving as the platform to leverage digital disruption opportunities. A Fully Connected Transportation Management System goes beyond simple RESTful API integrations because it connects natively to other business systems and operates as an enabler for different technologies.

Leveraging a cloud-based TMS as a rallying point combines information from integrations with business intelligence for a total technology package. Turning data into business intelligence, workflows, and automation is more complicated than mapping fields. Most systems can use an API to map fields but lack functionality to determine rates/margin, find a distance, calculated drive times, chose equipment type, and most importantly, identify missing data and create this data when necessary. Technology has to be smart to execute on digital transformation opportunities. Exception-based management is a basic requirement as next-level systems look to manage as many exceptions as possible so users can focus on true issues and generate more business.

A solution like 3Gtms delivers the different integrations and technology required to build a successful digital transformation strategy. For example, the solution includes connections to load boards for TL capacity, mileage engines, tariff services for rates, OCR for paperwork and document management, ELD and visibility mapping services, carrier insurance onboarding, rate index data, informational portals, and many other features. It’s the robustness of the software in combination with the software’s integrations to create an actionable platform for LSPs to get ahead. The technology’s ability to scale is also essential, especially when maximizing opportunities created by larger DFMs.

This is where LSPs look at the technology puzzle they wish to solve. Identify customer needs, capture a larger target market, and expand business lines. What digital components do you need to meet these goals and grow your business? Is it time to explore outside of traditional silos? For example, brokers and distributors are doing more managed transportation while TL fleets are offering more 3PL services. Understand what your company does best and what your customers need, then write your own digital disruption story.

Embracing Opportunities to Digitally Disrupt

This brings us back to the digital disruption going on in the transportation industry. The opportunistic LSPs will carve their own path and realize that the key to growth lies in their core technologies. Leveraging a TMS to rally around will centralize their information and enable transportation execution regardless of their planned strategies. It’s here that 3Gtms is differentiated in the marketplace as a single platform that marries technical abilities and integrations in the LSP space. Because of this, 3G customers quickly realize the importance of having a central TMS and how this technology helps obtain their vision.

It’s an exciting point in the history of logistics as digital changes emphasize supply chain technology and the need to utilize digital strategies for success. As more LSPs upgrade their technology stack, they will be better positioned to leverage new digitally-driven opportunities. And by using a scalable platform like 3Gtms, they get advanced TMS functionality for today and all the tomorrows to come.

Are you an LSP trying to decide if you should leverage a TMS to meet your digital transformation goals? Use this checklist to see if any of your objectives can be solved by 3Gtms.


-Do you need APIs and portals for customers and carriers to interact with you?

-Do you want to use TL automation to streamline processes?

-Do you need logistics exception reporting and automation?

-Do you need workflow and process automation?

-Do you struggle to connect your ERP, OMS, WMS, carrier, customer, and vendor data?

-Do your customers need simple portals for their CSR’s to quote?

-Do you use standalone load boards, visibility trackers, SMC3 rating, distance calculations, carrier tendering, OCR document management, or other disconnected systems?


JP Wiggins is the co-founder and Vice President of Logistics for 3G. 3G is a leading provider of cloud-based end-to-end transportation management software (TMS) for omnichannel shippers, e-commerce companies, 3PLs, and freight brokers. Our solutions include 3Gtms, our multi-modal transportation planning, optimization, execution, and settlement system; and Pacejet, our advanced multi-carrier shipping software. For more information, visit


How Data Analytics Can Help in Making Better Operational Decisions

In any business, it’s the role of an operations manager to make critical decisions that will cause ripples throughout the entire value chain. In the course of doing so, he  asks himself certain questions. What kinds of raw materials will reduce total cost? How can we schedule and manage production so as to maximise throughput? And how can we schedule maintenance so as to cause the least amount of disruptions?

In the past, such crucial decisions were made, keeping these questions in mind, based on general rules of thumb or traditional business intelligence. Today’s managers and leaders, however, have the support of technology and advanced data analytics to make well-informed decisions that optimize value on all levels.

With that said, there is still a steep learning curve for many of these operations leaders in terms of understanding how they can best apply advanced analytics in their companies. Those who don’t necessarily have a background in analytics might find it challenging having to figure out the many difficult terms alone. Such lack of awareness or experience can make it difficult for managers to identify and employ the best techniques that will work to their advantage. In short, they might lose important business opportunities simply because they cannot properly comprehend and harness the power of analytics.

To better understand what advanced analytics is about, we suggest thinking about it in terms of three aspects: analysis, modelling, and optimization.

Analysis: Looking Back on the Past

Analysis is the most basic stage of advanced analytics. It entails looking back on the past—that is, gathering data about a company’s past performance and analysing said data. During the process, a selection of key performance indicators (KPIs) are gradually identified and summarised. This stage provides unique insight into the different factors that drive value as well as suggests solutions that can increase value.

Modelling: All About Simulations and Possibilities

While analysis looks back on past events, modelling is all about predicting the future—that is, simulations of the future. In this stage, a company can predict possible scenarios for their business with the help of a model. (“Model” in this instance refers to any abstract representation of a company or organisation.) With modelling, managers can experiment with different strategies and perceive the resulting outcomes free from any risk, in what is essentially a virtual reality.

Optimization: Maximising The Value of Your Decisions

After analysis and modelling comes the final stage: optimization. This is the phase when the rewards from applying analysis and using modelling finally reach fruition. Using data gleaned from the previous two stages, managers are now better equipped to make decisions for their businesses that will optimize value creation on every level. Every business faces complex problems in its day-to-day operations, and the bigger the company, the more complicated the issues. Simply put, optimization techniques help in identifying the best possible solution for these problems.

The Future of Advanced Analytics

It remains to be seen how far analytics can go in terms of technological development. But one thing’s obvious: with analytics, managers now have the power to transform their businesses and thus change the world.


3 Biggest Threats to a Bank’s Cybersecurity

Our world is changing. It is undergoing rapid and massive digitization. It would be safe to claim that we have the global pandemic to blame for that. However, we believe that we would have gotten there anyway given the trajectory of our current technological advancements.

Education, various business processes一almost everything can already be done online these days. The world has passed a point of no return and will never go back to what it was pre-pandemic. What has been made digital will remain digital. While this new normal does offer a lot of conveniences, it also presented a new set of challenges, particularly in cybersecurity. And of all the industries that have gone online, it is probably the world of banking that we are most concerned for. What are the financial problems that these changes will pose?

In this article, we are going to talk about the biggest threats to cybersecurity in the banking sector. Let’s start with the most basic: unencrypted data.

Unencrypted Data

Data encryption is the process of converting data from a readable format into a decoded one. Various institutions usually have their own specific codes. In this way, no one would be able to easily read their data outside the firm, should their data fall into the wrong hands.

Think of data encryption as both the vanguard and the rear of cybersecurity. An effective encryption process can deter people with malicious intent. And if they ever get their hands on the said data, they would still have to try to decrypt it anyway before it can be of any use to them. These added security measures can be truly valuable for any financial institution.


The next imminent threat is malware. While we have no doubt that most financial institutions work with competent cybersecurity agencies in order to protect their devices from being hacked, it is also true that this might not include their staff.

A breach into a system is still possible through a compromised employee phone. All he needs to do is to connect to the office’s computer network and a hacker can already begin accessing compromising information.

The same thing can happen when you’re collaborating with a third-party service. We understand how convenient it is to employ a third-party service. It can potentially save time, money, and other resources.

However, it can also expose your financial institution to certain risks if your partner doesn’t have effective cybersecurity measures in place.

The best solution to prevent potential attacks in this manner remains to be adequate employee training. Make your staff aware of the very real (and billion-dollar) repercussions of a security breach.

It is also possible to limit the access of your employees. Just let them access the minimum data that they need in order to perform their tasks. This is for their own protection as well.

Finally, running comprehensive background checks and being particularly careful with the people you hire will also help. Just make sure that your checks remain compliant to prevent any issues.

As for business partners, one should never be afraid to ask about potential partners’ cybersecurity efforts.

Data Manipulation

Another big concern is data manipulation. There are three ways in how your data can be manipulated. First, it can be stolen, copied, and distributed elsewhere, much like how hackers are able to create realistic company pages for phishing. This is called spoofing.

Data can also be deleted. This is particularly true for bigger financial institutions with competing firms. An attacker might not really have the intention to steal information but to mess up the system by deleting crucial bits of data.

Can you imagine the panic that will ensue if a financial institution suddenly lost all its client information?

Finally, data can be edited without the owner’s knowledge. Despite the common belief that data-stealing is the worst cybersecurity attack that can happen, we still believe data alteration worse. That’s because this attack is a bit difficult to detect right away.

It’s easy for bigger companies to detect if their data has been stolen and being used with malicious intent. Data deletion is a complete giveaway. You will learn that an attack has happened right after it did. There’s even a chance of stopping it halfway if you’re lucky to catch it early enough.

What makes data alteration particularly detrimental is the fact that it can’t easily be detected. A firm can go on for months without even knowing that an attack has happened. After all, the manipulated data may look unaltered on the surface, but the truth is, hundreds (if not thousands) of micro edits have already been made. If the hacker succeeds, the financial institution may be held liable to pay millions of dollars in damages.

How Imminent Is the Threat?

The cybersecurity threats that we have mentioned above are just some of the most common ones that financial institutions globally are faced with every day. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are definitely other forms of cyberattacks out there, and even more, being developed by the minute.

According to Mark Whelan, a banking expert from the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, cyberattacks are more prominent and brazen than ever before. It has even reached the point that they are receiving up to 10 million attacks in a month.

For him, this is the biggest threat that financial institutions are currently facing, and experts predict that it’s only going to get worse.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, it is a brave new world that we’re living in. The risks and threats that we are facing right now are so stark in contrast to what we have experienced in the past. Gone are the days of bank heists with guns blazing. Instead, the bigger threat is probably wearing a sweatshirt right now in a random room somewhere across the globe. The fact that you wouldn’t have to take such a risk on your life makes the prospect even more appealing.

This has led financial institutions to prioritize cybersecurity efforts and training. Fortunately, with adequate risk assessment and planning, we are confident that you will be able to prevent severe cyberattacks from happening.


Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business topics. At the moment, he is the Director of Content at


Why Your Supply Chain Software Has to be User-Friendly

When it comes to supply chain software, companies are quickly learning that user experience or “UX” is everything. Put simply, it doesn’t matter how much a company invests in technology systems that provide all of the latest bells and whistles, if employees either don’t know how to use it – or, if they simply won’t use it – then those supply chain solutions will gather “virtual” dust in the corner as workers go back to their old ways of doing things.

Digital Natives’ Expectations

This is particularly true for the younger generations who are entering the workforce, and who know a good (or, bad) user interface when they see one. These digital natives grew up with mobile phones, devices, and applications in their hands, and expect the same experience with their business technology.

As the Baby Boomers continue to retire—and as they take their memories of using IBM Green Screens with them—Generations Y and Z are becoming the next supply chain managers and leaders. These new entrants to the field expect to have technology tools that make their jobs faster, easier, and more accurate.

Professional and End-User Friendly

“Making things as easy as possible for the end user is the best way to ensure successful adoption and use of any new communication tool,” InformationWeek states. “While organizations are understandably keen to arm workers with the best technology to boost productivity, end users’ needs aren’t the only priority. Throughout the evaluation process, it’s important to remember that the user interface (UI) is just as vital for IT professionals as it is for the end user when it comes to adoption.”

What is UX?

As the name implies, UX is all about creating an immersive experience for the user while keeping costs of development and implementation under control. In the context of software development, user experience looks like something focused purely on design and entertainment.

“UX has become a cornerstone of custom software development. Companies aiming to develop customer-facing software use this as a top competitive advantage, while those creating enterprise applications for internal use have learned to pay attention to this dimension to improve user acceptance of new software,” UX Planet explains. “This is no longer just a nice-to-have layer added at the end of the development cycle, but a significant aspect included right from the design phase.”

It’s important to note that where user interface (UI) is the collection of tangible elements that allow a user to interact with an application or website, UX is not defined by a specific set of visual objects, but rather what the user takes away from interacting with those visual objects that make up the experience. In this sense, UX is all about the subjective, internal feelings of the user. For example:

-How does the experience leave users feeling?
-Are users empowered or inhibited?
-Are users engaged or distracted?
-Are users encouraged or frustrated?

“In a world where we spend most of our workday interacting with technology,” bakertilly writes, “shouldn’t we at least feel empowered, engaged, and encouraged while we are doing it?”

Functional, Intuitive, and Easy to Use

When supply chain software has a good UX, the typical user can learn the program by simply using it, rather than reading a manual or taking lessons. For example, a program with intuitive icons and simple menu bar options may be easy for a new user to understand, TechTerms points out. “However, if a developer creates a program with non-standard icons and complex menu options, it will make the program less intuitive, likely resulting in a negative user experience.” Efficiency is maximized when a solution such as a WMS enables users to streamline their processes in the easiest way possible. Find out more about ease of use and results, click here.

A product that provides a positive user experience is:

-Functional: It does what it says it can do.
-Intuitive: The program was built with a friendly interface.
-Easy to use: It doesn’t make it too hard on the user.
-Reliable: It’s there when the user needs it.
-Enjoyable: The software is easy and fun to use.

When shopping around for supply chain solutions, such as WMS, look for user-friendly software that not only comprises functionalities that can benefit the user, but also makes it easy for users to access all its features. “The goal of efficient software development is to make the product reliable and compatible for end-users,” software development firm Rezaid states. “To deliver an excellent user experience, it is important to know your users well.”

As companies continue to invest in digital supply chain technologies to increasingly automate the supply chain, the ones that put their users first will surely get the best return on investment (ROI) and results from those applications. By seeking out software that features intuitive, easy-to-learn interfaces, companies can more readily integrate those new solutions into their busy operations without missing a beat. Those that ignore this advice may find themselves up against a formidable force when it comes to putting new innovation to work in their supply chains.

Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.