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How to use BI to gain competitive advantage in business

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How to use BI to gain competitive advantage in business

In today’s economy, many mid-size businesses find themselves in competition with online retailers and large corporations that are able to offer reduced prices. In order for independent mid-market operations to compete with Amazon et al, managers must utilize their data to gain a competitive advantage in business.

To make better decisions, it requires a clear overview of your company’s operational and financial picture. Once you have one view of the facts, you are empowered to make strategic decisions on how to cut wasteful spending and increase operational efficiency. All of this can be accomplished with the implementation of Business Intelligence (BI) software.

Find more sales opportunities

Sales managers are able to quickly identify which customers are buying and, more importantly, what products are in decline. With BI, you can quickly visualize customer spending trends by monitoring their purchases on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

Identifying these trends highlights new sales opportunities. An important opportunity lies with cross-selling complementary products. For example, a store may sell washing machines and dryers. A customer may need to replace only their washing machine, but by bundling them together at a very attractive price point, you are offering an incentive to purchase the pair. If a distributor finds that they are only selling washing machines to a customer, it may be that the customer is getting a better deal on dryers from another supplier.

With this information, your reps can have a meeting with the customer to determine the reason and quickly provide a solution.

Decrease the number of customers you lose

With Phocas, you can monitor how much your customers have purchased on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis to identify their spending trends. Providing your sales team with access to customer data such as buying patterns, previous feedback and behavior, offers clear insights into what your customers truly want and the ability to quickly spot customers on the decline. Armed with this information, your sales team can reach out before it’s too late.

Most customers want to be heard. By having meaningful conversations with them, you demonstrate that you are listening. Feeling heard leads to customer satisfaction and retention. With access to Phocas from mobile devices, your reps can quickly respond to customers’ needs even when they are out of the office.

Measure over- and under-stock

A significant way to reduce wasteful spending is to streamline your inventory management system. The goal is to have enough stock on hand to fulfil customer orders, without overstocking. Overstocking ties up capital that can be best used elsewhere. With Phocas, you can monitor your inventory turns by each product. Over time it is easy to see how much supply you need on hand.

Avoid dead stock

Another danger of over-stock is the risk of it becoming dead stock. Dead stock is stock that remains on the shelf for so long that it cannot be sold or returned. Dead stock can be caused by a product losing popularity, or by the development of newer versions of the product making your stock is outdated. Dead stock can also be stock that has literally perished. With dead stock, not only has the investment capital been lost, but the longer it sits in your warehouse is wasted space for profitable products.

Gain a clearer view of your financial performance

Traditionally, finance leaders do not allow many people to access ERP or corporate financial data due to the risk of submitting incorrect entries or corrupting the data. The Phocas financial solution protects the integrity of the legacy data while giving members of the finance team, or staff with financial reporting needs, the freedom to manipulate and share financial information. All this happens outside the ERP with the flexibility to analyze the data to identify areas of concern and opportunity. 

Phocas' new financial solution is an easy-to-use platform to share key financial information across your team. It will help open the lines of communication between the people who are reviewing the numbers and the finance team and no matter where the conversation is taking place; everyone is working from the same numbers

Decrease the time IT is tied up with reporting requests

In traditional settings, the IT department generates reports on request. These reports enable managers to see what’s happening in their domains. However, these reports are static snapshots that cannot provide insight into the underlying factors driving the information. If more insight is needed, a manager must request another report.

IT generated reports are also time-consuming. The average turnaround time is a few days and up to a week. In today’s fast past world, many factors may have changed by the time the report is returned, making it obsolete.

With Phocas, reports can be generated with just a few clicks of a button. The data can be drilled into for deeper insight. And because Phocas is designed for ease of use, even non-technical users can generate reports. Without the extra work of generating reports, your IT department can spend more time managing security and other important tasks.

Increase the speed and accuracy of reporting

With BI, reporting is not only faster because reports don’t need to go through IT, but also because it eliminates the need for error-prone spreadsheets. This is because Phocas takes your relevant data from all of your disparate sources and collects it into a singular source. This removes the need to export data into spreadsheets.

Department managers know what they need from their own reports. Now managers have the ability to create a report, drill down, and see the underlying data driving the reports. The enables them to create reports that are unique to their needs and allow them to make decisions based on the most current data.

Discover trends you did not know existed

Most executives have a pretty sound idea of the overall shape of their business. However, many find that after they implement a BI solution they discover new information. Having all of the information allows you to take advantage of unidentified opportunities and address unrecognized problems before they can have a serious impact.

Phocas customers report finding trends they did not know existed within their first day using Phocas. For instance, Michael Smith, Director of Operations at Johnston Companies said, “Five minutes into the demo, I had found items that didn't have the margin I was expecting, customers that didn't have the profitability I was expecting and vendors that weren't performing the way I expected. I realized that we were onto something that would be very impactful to our business."

Stay a step ahead of your competition

By implementing the Phocas BI solution, your company will enjoy the competitive advantage listed above. For more information on Phocas, download our Executive KPIs ebook.

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Written by Phocas Software
Phocas Software

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