Going Beyond the Limitations of Benchmarking

A recent posting by The Fabricator, a magazine and website for metal formers and fabricators, observes that industrial benchmarking comes in three varieties: internal benchmarking, which looks within a company’s own operations; competitive benchmarking, which looks at direct competitors within your industry; and functional benchmarking, which compares similar processes at a noncompeting company in another sector. The latter two types of benchmarking are probably the most valuable yet also the most difficult to accomplish, since they entail persuading competitors and those with similar processes (who first must be identified) to go along. But there is an answer.

The Fabricator article discusses a successful benchmarking effort between two non-competing companies with similar processes. The match occurred because the companies’ CEOs knew each other. Such serendipity, however, is rarely the case for most businesses, which is where “alt data” comes in. Alternative or big data is the term used to describe the very large and complex data sets used by hedge funds and other institutional investors. Alt data can encompass information not generally included in traditional benchmarking data. It enables companies to explore data relationships more deeply, both internally as well as in comparison to other companies.

At IndEx 2020, we’ll be exploring the value-creation possibilities that this next generation of data analysis permits. Our session on the subject will be moderated by Craig Fuller, Founder and CEO of FreightWaves, a company that describes itself as a data and content forum providing market participants with near-time analytics on the state of the freight market and tools that provide actionable outcomes. Acting on the data that FreightWaves collects and analyzes has helped companies in the shipping and logistics business become more efficient. He and the session’s panelists, a cross-section of data-oriented executives at industrial companies, will discuss the ways sharing and analyzing the mountains of data now available to industrial companies can lead to big gains in competitiveness, efficiency and growth.