In the ocean freight industry, we’re flooded with large data sets that are growing exponentially with the millions of container orders processed every month. It’s not enough to just collect and store this data. We also need to develop new ways to transform it into actionable performance information that can help ground customer expectations in reality and uncover new potential for efficiencies in the supply chain.

Why is this so critical to the future of our industry? In the words of philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We need to review and interpret actual carrier and shipper transaction data to address and improve key performance areas. Learning from this past data can help us work smarter tomorrow.

This is a strategy we see used successfully in other industries every day. For example, consider how athletes and coaches prepare for upcoming games. They analyze videotapes of their previous games to see how they can execute plays more effectively — and watch games played by their competition to search for opportunities they can exploit for a winning advantage.

Now is the time to consider the benefits of transforming shipping data into performance measurements where the numbers can make the biggest difference on the bottom line. These measurements could include on-time delivery performance; booking response time; declined booking requests; and booking cancellations and amendments. Imagine how much more profitable shippers and forwarders could be if they leveraged these performance measurements to improve supply chain operations, business relationships and operating performance. And imagine how much more satisfied customers would be if they had reality-based expectations about their shipments to maintain product inventory and enhance sales.

It all starts by turning yesterday’s ocean freight data into today’s actionable information.