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Best Practices

How to Solve Data Availability Challenges for Effective Planning

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Published: Reading time: 6 min
Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
Stijn-Pieter van HoutenSVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
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It is no secret that the availability of accurate and timely data is crucial for effective decision-making and planning. However, many organizations struggle with ensuring that necessary data is readily available for their planning processes. This challenge can significantly hinder an organization's ability to make informed decisions and forecast future trends accurately. o9 Solutions recognizes the critical nature of data availability and offers a strategic approach to overcome these hurdles.

Why does data availability matter?

The first step in addressing data availability challenges is acknowledging the vital role data plays in decision-making processes. Data availability concerns often stem from the need for more access to good-quality data, which is essential for forecasting and planning. Without access to reliable data, organizations find themselves at a significant disadvantage, unable to make crucial decisions for their success.

At o9, we approach data availability challenges by first identifying the root causes. This involves ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems that are often customized, data being siloed across various systems, reliance on tribal knowledge, or outright missing data. By determining the specific challenges an organization faces in accessing the data it needs, o9 can tailor its solutions to address these issues directly using experience from our customer base at large. This multifaceted approach to tackling data availability challenges ensures that organizations can access the data they need when they need it, for instance:

  • ERP data integration: We understand that ERP systems often contain part of the planning data needed for informed decision-making. The o9 platform is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing ERP systems using a range of options, augmenting the available data with additional insights necessary for comprehensive planning.
  • Capturing tribal knowledge: Recognizing that much of the essential data resides in the form of tribal knowledge, o9's platform enables the systematic capture and integration of this data into the planning process - often by becoming the system of record for such data. This ensures that valuable insights, which are often overlooked, are made available for decision-making.
  • Addressing missing data: We leverage advanced technology, including machine learning models, to identify and address gaps in data, or match disparate data using fuzzy logic. By highlighting missing data and providing solutions to fill these gaps, o9 ensures that planning processes are based on a complete and accurate data set.
  • Creating a system of record (SOR): o9's platform can serve as the SOR for planning master data, centralizing data management, and ensuring that all planning processes are based on a single, reliable source of truth. This approach not only improves data availability but also enhances the overall quality and reliability of the data used in planning.

Real-life success stories

With this in mind, let's delve deeper into how o9 specifically addressed data availability challenges for two of o9’s customers, demonstrating the impact of effective data integration and availability on planning and decision-making processes.

Customer A faced significant challenges with data availability across its vast and complex supply chain. This multinational struggled with planning data scattered across multiple sources, including ERP systems, Excel spreadsheets, and tribal knowledge residing with its planners. The lack of centralized and accessible data was a major hurdle in effective planning and decision-making. o9 tackled these challenges head-on by deploying its platform as the system of record for part of the company’s planning master data. The platform's ability to integrate data from diverse sources meant that Customer A could now access a comprehensive repository of planning data, previously siloed and difficult to utilize effectively and maintain over time.

  • Data Centralization: o9's platform aggregated data from various sources, including ERP systems, Excel spreadsheets, and other informal sources, into a single, accessible repository. This ensured that all relevant data was available for planning processes, enhancing visibility and decision-making accuracy.
  • Tribal Knowledge Capture: o9 recognized the value of the tacit knowledge held by the company’s planners, especially around risks and opportunities. By systematically capturing this tribal knowledge and integrating it into the planning process, o9 Solutions ensured that the company’s decisions were informed by both quantitative data and qualitative insights from experienced personnel.
  • Planning Efficiency: With improved data availability, this company now leverages o9's capabilities for better demand management and supply decisions. This is enabled via effective transportation mode prioritization, alternate lane setups, and capacity planning, contributing to planner efficiencies, cost savings - as well as revenue upside.

Alternatively, Customer B’s data availability challenge was compounded by its acquisition history, leading to a fragmented IT landscape with many different ERP systems. This diversity created significant data availability and integration challenges, impeding the company's ability to implement cohesive planning processes across its global operations. To address this, o9 provided a unified platform that could integrate data from the company’s myriad ERP systems, creating a single source of truth for planning and decision-making. This approach not only addressed data availability issues but also streamlined the planning process across different business units. For example:

  • o9's platform harmonized data from the many ERP systems, standardizing it to create a common data model for planning. This normalization process ensured consistency in planning data, regardless of the source ERP system.
  • By effectively integrating data across the company’s scattered IT landscape, o9 Solutions accelerated the planning process, enabling it to realize value from its planning efforts much faster than before. The implementation across the ERP systems stands as a testament to the efficiency and effectiveness of o9's integration capabilities.
  • With a consolidated view of its planning data, Customer B could leverage o9's analytics for better decision-making. This enhanced data availability enabled the business to implement Demand Planning, Supply Planning, and Integrated Business Planning more effectively, leading to improved operational efficiency and business outcomes.


Stories like these highlight the transformative impact of o9’s vision and solutions in overcoming data availability challenges. By centralizing data, capturing tribal knowledge, and integrating data from multiple ERP systems, o9 Solutions not only improved the planning capabilities of these organizations but also enabled more informed, data-driven decision-making. These examples demonstrate the critical importance of effective data integration and availability in today's complex business environment, showcasing o9 Solutions as a key enabler of planning and operational excellence.

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About the author

Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

Stijn-Pieter van Houten

SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

With over 20 years of experience in supply chain management, strategy, and operations, Dr. Stijn-Pieter (SP) is a global leader and innovator in the field of next-generation planning solutions for the manufacturing industry. He holds a PhD in computer simulation and mathematical models from Delft University of Technology and has completed executive education programs at Berkeley, Stanford, and Cranfield.


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