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Self-Service Analytics: A Recipe for Success in the Food & Beverage Industry

Posted on: 14-03-2016 11:15:441562


Sean Culey, a recognized thought leader in the field of business transformation, recently published an insightful new eBook describing six major benefits companies can obtain through the use of self-service analytics in their business.

In this blog, I would like to take a quick look at some of the key themes and benefits that were identified by Sean, with a focus on examining how they can be utilized within the food & beverage industry to improve business performance.

Before summarizing some of the benefits identified in the eBook, I would like to draw your attention to this interesting article published by Food Dive earlier this year. The article’s author, Carolyn Heneghan, identifies eight major challenges currently facing the food and beverage industry, and whilst not all can be addressed by self-service analytics, a few complementary points are raised. I recommend reading this article if you have an opportunity to do so. So without further ado, the benefits of self-service analytics to meet the challenges of the Food and Beverage industry…

Increases Responsiveness

Heneghan’s article highlights how the rise of ecommerce has meant that food and drinks manufacturers are now expected to instantly satisfy customer demands, otherwise they risk losing their trade - a point I expand on in another of my blogs; ‘Consumers are in the Supply Chain Driving Seat’. This creates an internal requirement for dramatically increased responsiveness of insight and data awareness – which cannot be served if business users are still relying on traditional business intelligence tools. Such tools rely heavily on IT to be able to change the content or structure of the business cubes. It’s just too slow. Business users could be rectifying challenges and spotting new opportunities if they weren’t waiting for IT to provide them with potentially outdated insights. On the other hand, business users armed with self-service analytical capabilities can respond to events far quicker in order to minimize problems and maximize business opportunities.

Increases Agility

Self-service analytics empower business users to act quickly and consequently become more agile. Food and beverage supply chains are traditionally precarious; affected by both seasonality and factors such as the weather. As demand moves away from the expected planned level, rather than waiting for hindsight based performance figures to highlight the mismatch, business users of self-service analytics can sense and respond to the issues as they arise and put action plans into place. What is the expected size of the demand fluctuation? Which are the critical orders we need to fulfil? What production and purchase orders can we expedite (or delay) to meet this demand?

Rather than waiting for the reporting cycle to be completed when the opportunity to proactively manage the crisis may have already passed, users can act on insight and take actions to maximize service and prevent knee-jerk reactions.

Encourages Innovation

The last benefit that Culey identifies in his eBook is that self-service analytics encourages and fosters innovation. Culey explains that “a workforce armed with the right self-service analytics tool will be able to execute on the actionable insights they find in near real-time, to better understand, control and improve business performance. The savings realized from this boost in efficiency can be redirected to any improvement initiatives the C-Suite seems fit”. Is this an opportunity to address Heneghan’s point about ‘slow product innovation cycles’? Self-service analytics removes the need for wasteful activities such as waiting for IT, or downloading data and manipulating it in Excel. The time saved could be redirected to more innovative activities such as R&D. The money saved by matching supply with demand more accurately releases funds that would have been tied up in excess stocks, or in half empty trucks, or dual deliveries to fulfil backorders. These funds can be redirected to create more innovative ways to meet consumer (and customer) demand for new food and beverage products.

I recommend reading both Culey’s and Heneghan’s work as they highlight many more corporate benefits that can be realized through self-service analytics, and how these might be applied within the food and beverage industry.

Bill Brazier
UK Country Manager

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