More data is a good thing, so let’s share

January 31, 2018

‍The growth in data has become an asset for teams working in the Business Intelligence and analytics space. However, the full benefits that data can bring have all too often failed to make their way across the entire organisation.

Telling the data story

The importance of data is rooted in its ability to tell a story. Whether this is explaining customer shopping habitssales channel performance, or any number of other variables, the art lies in transforming this vast amount of data into a simple to use, easily interpreted flow of information. The capacity to identify new opportunities is amplified when this raw information is made available to a variety of teams, each with the freedom to explore it in their own way. By locking data for the exclusive use of those in highly analytical roles, you are restricting the entire organisation’s capacity for creativity and potential new perspectives. Often the best data discoveries come when you don’t even know what you are looking for, until you find it. This is where planning and forecasting in cloud platforms really comes into its own, allowing businesses the flexibility to securely provide easy access to vital data, across the organisation.

Data’s only half the story

Data is great but it’s what you do with it that really counts. The cloud gives organisations the flexibility to drill down and interrogate data and answer the questions that matter the most. For example, imagine a company that sells a wide range of products, to different target markets, across several regions. Cloud platforms allow you to build a tailored solution whereby sales managers can view data for their specific region, identify which products are selling the best, and compare their performance to that of their peers. They can then pivot this data to understand if this performance difference is because of their ability to over or under penetrate certain customer types.

From this raw data of sales figures, team members on the ground can extrapolate real business intelligence to improve performance. While this example is relatively simplistic, the impact of using data in this way only becomes more powerful as you add layers of complexity across the organisation. By using the cloud, businesses can ensure that no matter how complex the data is, it can be controlled by the end user, in real-time. The right data, in the right hands, at the right time, is an incredibly powerful tool.

We know what we are selling but what does that mean for our business?

Through the application of connected planning it is now possible for teams to share their strategies with the collective and allow for a joined-up planning process. For example, a marketing team plan a summer campaign that they know will resonate well with a particular demographic of their customer base. The marketing team can flag this campaign to the salesforce via their connected planning tool. This update instantly filters through to the demand planning team who can model to understand the territories where they see greater concentrations of these customer types. They can then apply an adjustment to their forecast to account for the change in the market. This connected approach means that the process can be run in real-time anywhere in the world and the organisation is better prepared to take advantage of gaps in the market quicker.

Business leaders must ensure that they are arming their sales and planning teams with the best possible tools to deliver results on the frontline. The benefits of connected planning are significant in the sales domain. By removing time-lags between decision making, planning teams are able to respond quicker to the demands of their industry. Accounting within demand plans for the actions of others, forecasting teams are able to resource to the correct levels and ensure demand is met. Using data in this way and connecting that planning process across the organisation is the future of sales.

Lloyd Rayner

Written by: Lloyd Rayner

I have spent several years working in BI / analytical roles supporting with sales optimisation. More specifically assisting parts of British Gas to understand the potential of their franchise network, providing these SME’s with information on the potential of their businesses and more recently helping Virgin Media understand and define its regional sales strategy.

Five big tests facing your supply chain this year

January 25, 2018

We are living in interesting times. Europe seems to have turned a corner on the prevailing malaise and financial shocks of recent years. The emergence of Emmanuel Macron in France, who is once again championing a liberal and globalising attitude in Europe and the stability of Angela Merkel, suggests that this trend will continue.

In the UK and the US, however,  economic uncertainty as a result of the political climate  continues. Sterling in the UK has taken a knock and is driving inflation; in turn putting the breaks on consumer growth and squeezing spending. However, it is also driving the FTSE to new highs and could prove lucrative for UK manufacturers.

China is moving down the path of development and is more inward-looking.  As the US takes a more domestic-focused position, politically, China may step in to the breach and look to drive a more global agenda in areas such as climate change.

This context is highlighting some key challenges for functions across all sectors but in particular it raises some interesting considerations for supply and operations planning. The five big challenges for 2018 are:

1. External shocks from across the globe

Modern supply chains are increasingly global and involve chains of supply spanning multiple and disparate countries, as well as complex suppliers. More involvement means that organisations are exposed to a wider range of risks and external factors than before.

Large scale disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or geo-political instability in key supply markets will require significant mitigation efforts.

2. A squeeze on efficiency

Organisations will continue to face pressure to find efficiencies in supply chain costs. The move to online channels and new approaches to supply, along with recent low fuel prices, have provided opportunities for some organisations to significantly reduce costs. Even so, supply chain managers will remain under continued pressure to find cost savings. Once the big ticket items are gone it will be down to continued incremental cost reductions.

3. Speed to market

Uncertainty and the increasing pace of change means that companies need to have a real-time view of demand and a good understanding of the future direction of demand for their market. They then need to react quickly to these changes and pivot to meet the changing circumstances. At the same time, they are under pressure to communicate and obtain consensus from senior management and the market on the direction of travel, and they have to consider and manage logistics and inventory constraints.

The work to bring the demand and supply problem closer means integrating inputs across functions and developing an integrated planning process which can model the impact of changes across the related areas.

4. The exponential pace of change

As companies diversify and globalise their manufacturing base there is an increasing complexity in optimising the production process. The answers may vary not just by location but by time too. It’s important to consider that new product introductions could also mean moving into new markets, necessitating a new mix of production allocation across sites.

5. Customer expectations

For retailers, technology-led companies like Amazon and Uber, have shown the possibilities of true on-demand, seamless services. An Uber is a click away and in most cases you can expect next day delivery as standard. Other companies are having to respond and we have seen a rapid shift to next day or same day service.

This shift in expectations means companies will need to consider their markets and may need a fundamental change in their operating models.

From a planning perspective this means that we can expect to see continued improvements and collaboration between functions, with more real-time connected plans. Companies with siloed processes are not able to adjust quickly enough to capture the market opportunities.

In summary, what we are seeing is that the supply and operations planning processes will continue to integrate more closely across the business and become more integral to the overall strategy and direction of organisations. Companies who wish to remain nimble and efficient will move to a more frequent planning cycle and have the ability to model and report on changing market conditions and other external factors. At the same time, other functions like marketing, sales and logistics will provide regular inputs to ensure greater alignment and get closer to the customer.

Increasing scrutinity and reporting will be required from senior leadership and analysts to ensure effective communication and expectations setting externally, while also providing inputs to the continually moving strategy.

Sean Culligan

Written by: Sean Culligan

Head of Services Vuealta. Master Anaplanner and Global Expert

Vuealta and Reportwise announce partnership to deliver IFRS16 Compliant Lease Contracts Management Solution

January 1, 2018

As of January 2019, the IFRS16 Standard imposes a single lessee accounting model; requiring lessees to ensure a permanent lease inventory, recognise assets and liabilities in their balance sheet and publish additional disclosures.

Addressing this statutory requirement, Reportwise Consulting, a specialist performance management company, have created an IFRS16 compliant solution powered by Anaplan, for data collection, calculations, reporting and disclosures of lease contracts.

Forming a new partnership, Reportwise and Vuealta are committed to helping UK businesses meet the needs of the requirements of IFRS16, through the deployment of the new App.

The clock is ticking for these organisations, who need to have a solution in place by 1 January 2019,” said Ian Stone, CEO, Vuealta. “We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Reportwise whose Anaplan App we can deliver to companies across the UK in a short amount of time, carrying out implementations during the first half of 2018 in order to meet the statutory deadline.

The team at Vuealta are in a prime position to take our solution to market,” said Michel Morel, Anaplan Practice Lead at Reportwise. “Their Anaplan expertise and skills, combined with their existing customer relationships, means that we can expect to see successful deployments across relevant organisations, supporting this element of their IFRS16 compliancy.