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 habits, sales 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.