You already know the value of data to your industry. You are an Excel master, spreadsheet creator and analytics god. You rely on data to tell you when to order more food and change up your menu.

While you may have thought you knew everything there was to know about your data, technology has come to shake things up. Big data is the latest and greatest shift in supply chain management.  In fact, Supply Chain Dive explains that just like Excel changed supply chain reporting, big data is enabling you to focus on the big picture rather than routine tasks. (1) Let’s take a deeper look into how big data is advancing the supply chain management industry:

Inventory Management & Forecasting

Big data provides you with more data than you’ve ever had before. When it comes to your inventory, not only can you see what products you have left in your pantry and how many chicken sandwiches you’ve sold, but you also can see how certain dishes compare in different parts of the country, what menu items you should advertise more and what’s not making the cut. While this would have been too much data for one person to analyze before, big data enables you to see patterns and make well-informed decisions about your ordering habits and helps you forecast better.

For example, Levy’s Restaurants uses big data to analyze the correlation between sporting events and food and beverage purchases to determine what it should sell at each of its 45 venues, according to (2) By understanding what people like to buy, they can better stock their restaurants and forecast what dishes they need to prep ahead of time.

Transportation & Delivery

If you’re in charge of managing the logistics of the transportation and delivery of your products, there are a lot of factors you need to consider. Traffic, accidents, bad weather conditions, road work and even vehicle maintenance can impact your efficiency.

Big data enables you to capture traffic sensor data, road network data and vehicle data to optimize your delivery schedule to your restaurants or for your caterers. Cleverism explains that you can track weather and traffic patterns to send your drivers on the best routes, provide customers with delivery status updates and respond to issues in real time. (3) You also can schedule vehicle maintenance and repairs without affecting your delivery schedule.

Social Media & Customer Demand

Social media isn’t just your marketing team’s problem anymore. While inventory and transportation may seem like old news to you, social media is breaking news in supply chain management. People are talking about your restaurant on Facebook and Twitter, posting pictures of their meals on Instagram and Snapchat and reviewing your service on Yelp. All of this data can be tracked and analyzed by big data software to boost your customer service, help with supply and demand, and show where consumer-led trends are heading.

For example, if your customers are posting about your amazing summer salad, you know that you’ll need to increase the amount of ingredients you’re ordering because there will be more demand. Or, heaven forbid, if your new pasta dish is bombing and bringing down your Yelp reviews, you can quickly take it off the menu and adjust your next order.

Big data is a match made in heaven for supply chain managers. It enables you to make well-informed decisions, optimize your production cycle and deliver what your customers want. And, best of all, you now can add a new title to your list of accomplishments — data conqueror.