Con-way Drives to Real-time Optimization with TIBCO Fast Data
Uses real-time events, processes, insight, and decision-making
The primary goal of Con-way’s integration strategy was to provide the core business with real-time analytics and automated decision-making. “The risk in our business is not having real-time visibility,” says Maja Tibbling, principal enterprise architect. “Our key metric is operating ratio: cost over revenue. If we’re running trucks that are empty, we’re getting no revenue, only cost. We need to optimize drivers, trailers, routes, and the miles we travel continuously as conditions change.
“If we have a major weather event, we still need to know how to get critical shipments delivered, perhaps food that may even be needed because of the storm. We need to know immediately if a truck is in danger of not getting to its destination, which routes are still available, exactly what the perimeter of that weather event is. Business continuity and real-time information are absolutely critical.”
Con-way had laid the groundwork; all mission-critical events were flowing in, but now it needed better understanding of those events. “The only way of understanding is by bringing it together. You have to correlate and aggregate those events over time to get a long-term understanding of what’s going on,” says Tibbling. “Our goal was to provide insights and automated real-time business decisions using data in motion.”
Tibbling continues: “What has become obvious is that the old mechanism of operating against next-day BI reports will not work. The business can’t be run in that mode anymore. You need a real-time platform that can integrate all of the endpoints in your ecosystem—your partners, employees, social networks—and listen to what’s going on in the entire extended ecosystem. For that, you need a real-time platform like TIBCO offers.
“We started in 1995 creating a services architecture. Our relationship with TIBCO started in 2002 when it became clear that we needed to get data to other systems in near real time. TIBCO has been a fantastic partner. Their products have kept pace with our vision of an intelligent enterprise that brings together streaming analytics, optimization, and complex event processing built on our service-oriented architecture.”
Real-Time Events, Predictive Insight, and Alerts
Tibbling says that Con-way’s complex event processing (CEP) architecture put it in a unique position. “It became possible to give the business the ability for realtime understanding of situations that in the past were possible only the day after they occurred. Now, not only do we have real-time data flowing, we have more intelligent events, generated by combining one or more events in motion. That is what provides the business with additional insight.
Con-way can also alert customers in real time, providing superior service. “If their freight gets damaged, or we’re going to miss some critical deadline, they want to know right away, when it happens. We want to be able to tell them and perhaps compensate them then,” says Tibbling.
Disruptive Innovation, Change Readiness
“Now we can automate business processes that were impossible before. They were only in the brains of the experts,” says Tibbling. “We want to be able to know the best action that can be taken given a particular type of freight exception. Before, we were running on experience alone, not data. But, if you combine real-time analytics with an event processor that is recognizing the conditions, over time, decisions can be automated. We can use these disruptive technologies to ride the tsunami of change.”
Network-Wide Optimization and Reduced Planning Time
To address business-critical operations, Con-way wants to publish the day’s freight-movement plan for the entire network to a dashboard, then track and compare the predictions to actual events. “We’ll have a learning cycle that will make our planning better and better,” says Tibbling.
“One of our main achievements has been in real-time operations,” she says. “While shipments are still inbound, we can push recommendations to the inspectors so they inspect shipments that are most likely to result in corrections that generate additional revenue. When the program is fully rolled out, we expect a dramatic decrease in planning time, which means inspectors are out on the floor inspecting more shipments.”
“Using mission-critical events, a tool like CEP, and growing expertise in the company, we’ll be able to dazzle our business users with more and more capabilities that they thought were only pipedreams,” says Tibbling.