Only 12% of distributors report relying on analytics for all of their sales, marketing and operational decisions, including pricing and product and customer selection, according to the 2014 State of Analytics in Distribution report by Modern Distribution Management.
If you are not part of this 12% and you don’t have analytics to help you make these critical business decisions, then you are essentially guessing, which is not going to lead to great results. Also, if you don’t have analytics to inform your decisions, then the odds are good that you aren’t going have great analytics to assess the results of those decisions. Without analytics, it can become easy to get stuck in this cycle and continue to use ineffective processes and miss out on opportunities for your organization to grow.
So, what is getting in the way of great analytics for your distribution company?
If you are like most distributors, you’ve likely run into one of these barriers to better analytics:
- Weak technology infrastructure
- Lack of correct talent to use the data
- Inefficient means of capturing and analyzing data
Removing these barriers can be a challenge, but will pay off with enormous dividends once you are effectively analyzing your business data. Here are some ideas for moving past these barriers and achieving analytics success:
Consider new options for upgrading your infrastructure. Yes, updating your technology infrastructure can be expensive and time consuming – but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. With the proliferation of cloud technology, you can store information in online data warehouses or move some or all of your business systems to the cloud so that the burden is no longer on your in-house hardware. There are a lot of options and it can be difficult to know what combination of online and on-premises systems and storage will work best for your business, so consider working with a business consulting partner that can help you identify your best options.
Assess your existing staff and identify opportunities for improvement. By taking an in-depth look at the skill-sets of your people, you can see if you have the right talent in place but perhaps they would benefit from some additional training, if you have the right people in the wrong roles and can make adjustments, or if you need to recruit some individuals with the analytical skills or knowledge of your technology to help bring your organization up to speed analytically.
Determine if you need to change your processes, add on to your solutions, or replace them. Sometimes an inability to capture or analyze your data is simply a matter of not aligning your business systems with your business processes. If this is the case, you can assess your processes as well as the data that they produce and adjust your use of your systems accordingly to make the most of what you have in place. However, a new feature or new system is often required in order to attain the level of data collection and analysis that you need to really make an improvement to your business. If you are in this position, work with a trusted partner to assess your current business management systems and identify new add-ons or solutions that can help you reach your analytical goals.