Focus on: Next-Generation Business Intelligence

Eager to make more effective business decisions, many retailers are reevaluating their business intelligence strategies. With a renewed focus on breaking down enterprise-wide silos, retailers are making a move to the next generation of BI, which includes giving line and store managers access to predictive analytics tools and multifunctional views of data.

Nine out of 10 C-level retail executives reported that their organization is collecting and managing an average of 98% more business information than two years ago, according to a recent survey conducted by Oracle, Redwood Shores, Calif. And the sources are ever-growing. For example, 43% of data stems from customer information, 33% from operations, and 30% sales and marketing, according to the survey.

However, existing BI platforms, which are often managed by retailers’ individual business divisions, cannot effectively process this information. According to Aberdeen Group, Boston, 45% of retailers need to improve the speed of access to relevant business data, and 28% are still struggling to get beyond data integration and move data accessibility into the hands of line users.

“As companies add more business channels and customer touchpoints, role-based input across the enterprise is necessary to make strategic business decisions,” said Andrea Morgan-Vandome, VP retail strategy and solution marketing, Oracle Retail. “The only way to do that is to give line and store-level managers insight into multifunctional data to understand customer and product information.”

This is becoming such a priority that 36% of retailers already provide managers access to customer behavior and consumer trends, according to Aberdeen Group. (And 22% say they need to improve data accessibility for customer-facing employees.) To ensure this concept is successful, however, retailers must break down silos between operating divisions.

“It’s become mission critical to understand what is going on across the enterprise and why it is happening,” Morgan-Vandome explained. “To make this a reality, each different line of business user needs to get a perspective of activity impacting all divisions.”

Companies also must move away from traditional BI platforms. These tools simply reported “what happened,” but today’s retailers need to integrate the functionality of predictive analytics to gain insight into what is happening and why.

Retailers are learning that historical data cannot deliver the information they need. In fact, 28% of retailers are feeling pressured to move beyond their current data reporting status into more frequent insight into relevant business data, according to Aberdeen.

“Analytics is a change from traditional BI in that retailers must understand what a market basket looks like, for example, as well as how one product can impact performance of others,” Morgan-Vandome said. “In terms of reporting, users need insight into performance and understanding its evolution. This is why analytics are important.”

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