What kind of difference would it make to your business if you had every bit of information about your customers at your disposal – what they like, where they spend their money, what they bought yesterday, and what they are likely to buy tomorrow?
And just think within your own business, what kind of decisions would you make if you knew where your money would be best spent, where the wastages lie and also be able to predict what you are likely to spend in the next six months.
A Business Intelligence (BI) strategy has made all that possible.
Masindi Mabogo, director at PBT Group, an information management and business insight solution provider, explains Business Intelligence as a set of technology systems (both hardware and software) that a company can use to manage their data, produce insights that the business can then use across the organisation, to assist in making stronger/better strategic decisions.
“The main purpose of adopting a BI strategy is for a business to better manage their data, such as customer information, and to analyse the data to make smarter and quicker decisions,” Mabogo says.
This information is also a useful asset for identifying and managing business risk and anticipating internal and external opportunities in organisations, which are essential to maintain an organisation’s competitive edge and stimulate innovation.
Furthermore, businesses are also able to identify new avenues in which revenue can be created, reduce unnecessary cost and improve business efficiency and performance.
Just how feasible is this for SMEs? With the evolution of cloud technologies many more businesses who in the past may not have been able to implement BI in-house due to the cost, are now able to, adds Mabogo.
Want to know the sort of impact BI can have on your business? Here is how Coca-Cola, Netflix and Puma are using it to solve some of their most pressing challenges and saving precious time and money in the process.
Coca-Cola – Turning big numbers into real gains
With over 3,800 beverage choices and a company portfolio that features 20 billion-dollar brands, Coca-Cola is the world’s largest beverage distribution system with more than 1.9 billion servings of their beverages consumed in more than 200 countries each day, and together with its bottling partners ranks among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates.
How BI changed the game for Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola collects vast amounts of data, Petabytes according to big data platform, Datafloq. This includes multi-channel retail data, customer profile data from loyalty programs, social media data, supply chain data, competitor data, sales and shipment data from bottling partners as well as transaction and merchandising data.
Coca-Cola’s BI strategy takes a strategic approach instead of a tactical approach with big data, the company’s chief big data insights officer, Esat Sezer, told Datafloq in an earlier interview.
Using big data technologies, Coca-Cola created a shared services centre for their financial transactional activities as well as an employee service centre for HR activities, meaning that data is combined centrally and made available via various shared platforms across the organisation.
The Datafloq article also states that one of the ways that Coca-Cola has benefited from big data is with ensuring the year-round consistency of its orange juice despite that the oranges used have a peak-growing season of just three months.
“They have developed an algorithm, called the Black Book model, that combines various data sets such as satellite imagery, weather date, expected crop yields, cost pressures, regional consumer preferences, detailed data about the myriad of 600 different flavours that make up an orange, and many other variables such as acidity or sweetness rates to tell Coca-Cola how to blend the orange juice to create a consistent taste, down to the pulp content.”
Netflix – Uncovering what the really customer wants with data
Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with over 86 million members in over 190 countries. The network streams over 125 million hours of TV shows and movies per day.
How BI changed the game for Netflix: The company’s Business Ineliigence strategy centres around using big data analytics to track an endless amount of information, according to Business Intelligence, a BI news portal.
This includes information on customer behaviour such as: the content they watch, the day and time, their location (based on area code), the device used to watch, the ratings given, and browsing and scrolling behaviour.
According to the post, this data has given Netflix a considerable competitive advantage over traditional television networks by making it possible for Netflix to accurately understand and predict what the customer wants and not have to rely on “tradition and intuition”.
“Not only does this allow Netflix to avoid the risk of buying into a big flop, but it also allows it to create an algorithm that automatically recommends movies and shows the user will likely find interesting based on past trends. This keeps users watching, which in turn, prevents them from cancelling their subscription—Netflix’s main objective,” the article stated.
Puma – Solving budgeting and planning challenges through data
A leading sports brands, Puma designs, develops, sells and markets footwear, apparel and accessories. According to the company’s profile, Puma distributes its products in more than 120 countries and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide. Puma is well known for its collaborations with renowned design brands such as Alexander McQueen and celebrities such as Rihanna and Usain Bolt.
How BI changed the game for Puma: Before the company implemented their Business Intelligence strategy, Puma Australia’s financial management system was a labour intensive and time consuming exercise with much of their financial data being gathered and consolidated manually, according to Board, a company that develops decision-making software.
“The process of collecting budgets from various sales managers and consolidating them into a company view was not easy. It involved a complex series of reporting hierarchies, made even more challenging by the codes and categories required for local and international reporting,” according to the Board case study.
The solution for Puma was found through their Business Intelligence strategy that includes a customised sales analytics application, the report states.
Just one person at Puma was able to complete the development and implementation of both applications for budgeting and planning, without help from any external consultants, the report further states adding that the Puma team have continued to develop many more applications integrating data from a variety of existing systems.
“These applications provide strategic analytic functionality to Puma management both here in Australia and the parent company in Germany. Some of the functional benefits realized since the introduction of the system have included the ability to carry out simulations, ‘What if’ analysis, predictive modelling by historical data analysis and a significant reduction in reporting time and effort,” the reports expands.
“The time necessary to produce retail sales data in the format required by Puma International every month has been reduced literally from days to a few minutes.”