Of course, spreadsheets are software too, you’d think. What’s more, they can be automated as well for important business functions. So, what is missing here?
Well, the humble spreadsheet can do a lot. But it is not capable enough to help you organize your data, generate useful reports, and make important business decisions.
A major reason for that is the current digital age, where a vast amount of data is generated by businesses daily. With traditional methods like spreadsheets and run-of-the-mill POS software, consolidating various data and analyzing it to make data-driven decisions become time- and resource-intensive. This puts enterprises even with a sound business model at the risk of losing their competitive advantage.
Nowhere do these issues manifest better than medium-scale enterprises like multi-unit brands, franchises, and networks that use manual methods of data consolidation and analysis.
Solution Lies in Data Analytics- & Machine Leaning-powered Business Intelligence
Medium-scale enterprises usually sell their products through a wide network of retailers, which are spread across cities, countries, or even continents.
Collating and understanding the sales data generated by them can be made easier and faster with data analytics and machine learning.
They can further help you make smart business decisions on your feet through fast real-time insights. This is not possible in the traditional setup, where there is a costly lag between the generation of data and actionable reports.
But the advantages of a data-analytics and BI (business intelligence) solution go farther and deeper than just that. Here we look at some other reasons why you should ditch your spreadsheets for an automated, self-learning, and data-driven business intelligence software.
Real-time Data Anomaly Detection
An undetected data anomaly, aka an unexpected data pattern, can harm your business in multiple ways. For starters, it can lead you to miss business opportunities, bring losses, and even damage your reputation.
To illustrate a use-case, an anomaly detection system can help you keep track of products that see a sudden uptick in sales. Instead of restocking after a product runs out of stock, you can restock a product as per demand with the help of anomaly detection. This helps you make the most of a business opportunity when it arises.
Similarly, real-time anomaly detection can help you avert losses due to issues like pricing errors. It can further save you from a damaged reputation. Most companies in this list could have avoided poor customer service with data anomaly detection.
With data analytics and business intelligence, you can discover anomalies and generate actionable insights in real-time. This ultimately helps you maximize revenues, keep losses to a minimum, and offer timely customer service.
According to a study, retailers around the world lose $1.75 trillion because of overstocking and understocking their products. This perfectly illustrates the importance of demand forecasting in the modern retail or franchise network.
A data-analytics and BI solution can help you track sales and allocate resources accordingly. For instance, it can help you identify which products are selling faster than others and during which periods. Armed with this information, you can stock products as per anticipated demand and optimize your resources accordingly.
Demand forecasting can also help you gain a leg up over your competitors. For example, constant monitoring can help you identify products that sell higher or offer greater margins. This puts you in a better position to adjust business and marketing strategies as compared to competitors who are slower to respond to these changes in product demand.
Controlling costs is another notable advantage of data-driven demand forecasting. Your business can buy raw materials in advance and benefit from favorable pricing if the forecast is for greater demand. Similarly, if demand is forecasted to be lower, budgets for advertising and promotion can be cut.
Did you know the ubiquitous Staples is the world’s fourth-largest retail network and has 1,800 stores in 25 countries? With such a wieldy network, you’d be forgiven to think the company might find it hard to maintain an efficient supply chain and control costs. But thanks to retail data analytics, Staples reduced its marketing costs by 25% and yet managed to boost its ROI by 137%.
Kroger is another example of a retail enterprise that harnesses advanced data analytics to improve customer experience, make warehouses more efficient, and achieve a better ROI from marketing activities.
A data analytics and BI solution can help you with product tracking, real-time inventory management, and improved forecasting. This results in a supply chain that is agile and responds to customer demand instead of it being the other way around.
Data analytics can also help you boost conversion rates of walk-ins by using targeted promotions. The first step in this process is using analytics to understand customer behavior. Their likes and preferences can then become the basis upon which you optimize your marketing efforts, create specialised offers, and identify cross-selling opportunities.
Mobile BI Dashboards
Mobile Mini, a mobile storage provider in the USA and the UK, leases over 200,000 portable storage containers through a network of 2000+ employees and 150 locations. How did the company manage such a wide and asset-heavy network while still achieving its growth metrics and clocking over $500 million in annual sales?
The answer lies in a mobile BI dashboard. One of its main advantages is that business-critical information is delivered on the go. Akin to the managers and executives at Mobile Mini, this can help you monitor your sales network from afar and make procedural or strategic changes on the move. In an age when the business environment changes by the minute, mobile BI dashboards can offer you a huge competitive advantage.
Such a dashboard can also be customized as per your specific business requirements and allow you to control the level of detail each stakeholder in your network can see.
Mobile BI dashboards also make it easier for you to absorb and understand complex business information with their extensive use of graphics and other intuitive data visualization techniques.
With a mobile dashboard at your disposal, you can quickly and easily review the details of your business operations. This gives you more opportunities to solve issues quicker and make your business more efficient and profitable.
Business intelligence solutions for medium-scale enterprises can also help you boost workforce engagement levels. How is that useful, you might ask?
According to Franchise Business Review’s 2018 Franchisee Satisfaction Study, businesses in the top quartile of franchisee satisfaction enjoyed 10x higher unit growth and 40% higher royalties than businesses in the bottom quartile. Moreover, franchisees of the top quartile businesses reported almost double the income of the bottom quartile franchisees.
With a good data analytics and BI solution, you can boost workforce engagement levels in several ways. For starters, it allows you to establish data-driven metrics and goals that can be easily communicated to everyone in your network. This further encourages them to take greater ownership of your brand and its success.
Real-time and data-driven insights also allow you to discover which franchisees improve their performance and which ones need more support. Analytics can also be used to understand what makes the star performers tick, learnings from which can be shared with the rest of your sales network.
From products and services to buyers, suppliers, and even consumer preferences, medium-scale enterprises are inundated with large amounts of data from ever-diversifying sources. On the flip side, consolidating and analyzing this data can unlock a treasure trove of growth opportunities.
This is also why business intelligence derived from traditional manual methods of consolidating and analyzing data will not be effective in today’s digital age.
Medium-scale enterprises that ditch the spreadsheet and invest in a data-analytics and BI solution are better placed to measure different aspects of their business, which in turn can help them make data-informed tactical and strategic business decisions.
If you’d like to know more about the financial, technological, and behavioral benefits of going for a data-driven business intelligence solution, contact us today. You can also learn how POS Doctor, our BI solution, has been adapted for the needs of medium-scale enterprises that operate in diverse industries and use different technology stacks.