Using data to make better business decisions – LWF 2019
Business intelligence – data & the decision making process
The London Wine Fair 2019 was held recently at Olympia. We were delighted to be on the panel of a session in the Innovation Zone called:
Follow the Data: using data to make better business decisions
The session was facilitated by Richard Siddle, a well-known media figure and Editor in the drinks industry. He also launched The-Buyer.net offering insight to buyers & sellers in premium on-trade. The panel (left to right) consisted of experts in the field of data analytics and reporting:
Calogero Scibetta Head of Business Development at Everledger (a Blockchain specialist)
TVision’s very own Ben Marriott – one of our Bevica Implementation Consultants
Jon Pepper COO Enotria&Coe
Alex Linsley Director of Insight and Business Development at Liberty Wines Ltd.
What data does a business need to hold?
The session opened with individual introductions from the panel and the theme that came across really strongly was that we need to understand what data it is that an organisation holds, and for what it measures.
The over-arching question here was: Do you know what question you’re trying to answer with your data, or are you just digging into detail. Ultimately data analaysis should be about actionable insights that can be delivered across your organisation. I think if this was the only message people had as their key takeaway from the session, it would definitely evoke some serious discussion back in the respective offices of the Innovation Zone attendees.
With Ben’s extensive knowledge of the wine sector, data analytics and reporting, and our proprietary drinks industry solution “Bevica” – he is uniquely placed to offer great insight around this subject. He explained that we (TVision) always offer our clients best practice advice. And as there were two longstanding TVision clients on the panel alongside him, he further added that whilst we share advice with all our clients across the various sectors they do business with (and not just wine/drinks) we obviously maintain confidentiality around any specific organisation’s project/s. As an aside, he also spoke the subject of data and reporting at length at our Client Day earlier this year. Have you ever compared data to spaghetti?? Check out the Summit 2019 video to see what I mean.
Software that helps you make better business decisions
I saw a lot of nodding heads as I looked around when Ben mentioned that helping customers to implement a new software solution can be daunting. The majority of people fall into two main groups, those who have either never done it before and don’t know which questions they should be asking of an ERP provider, or those that have witnessed an unsuccessful implementation previously. Very few have seen a successful IT project delivered on time and to budget – but that’s what TVision are good at. [Read our piece on the Five steps to ERP implementation success.]
He stressed that there is a need to make sure there’s clear responsibilities for data ownership. For example who makes sure an item or customer is set up correctly so it reports correctly. The more use of data people make the more important it is to have it accurate. Doesn’t need to be burdensome but someone needs to know.
With the data lake associated with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central / NAV instance, Ben stated that users can be guaranteed a single source of truth and therefore a truly accurate data set. He also made the point that people often demand, say, a sales report across specific geographical regions or product sales to validate organisational KPIs. But when a KPI list reaches 20 – perhaps an organisation needs to reflect on what their goals are, KPIs should after all be few rather than numerous. The critical word in key performance indicators is “key”. If you have a lot of KPIs then it suggests they’re not that key. Focus on measuring things that will derive business improvement, whether that’s sales, service, efficiency. These can be department specific if required but don’t measure for measures sake.
Data visualisation tools for informed decision making
With the Microsoft Power Platform and Power BI, report production is made so much simpler and far easier to access these tools. Previously they were only accessible to large enterprises – now they can be used by organisations of all sizes. But people are often more interested in the output than the reason behind the need for a report. As it is fairly easy for end-users to create a Power BI report, what will be done with it once it has been created? Ben advocated asking “Why” five times. Why did you want this report? Why is that region important? Why do you want to know about that particular salesperson?… If you can ask Why 5x and still justify the need – then carry on with the report, it’s clearly important. If, however, you flail for an answer after the first why, maybe it’s not that important after all and time would be better spent analysing data with different criteria.
However, there is still a need for data governance and someone who understands the underlying data set. It’s a collaboration of (typically) IT in getting the data out and structured appropriately and end user stakeholders about what they want to measure. TVision always aims to bridge both of those factors with our knowledge from both sides and experience.
Each panellist was asked a series of questions in turn by Richard Siddle, the host for the session. As time went on it was clear that 45 minutes really wouldn’t be enough to delve into the details for this particular subject. Indeed the session overran slightly.
Below is a summary of the three other panellists’ main points on the subject of data and informed business decisions as I have already highlighted Ben’s answers above.
Calogero talked at length about the need for accurate provenance information around wines. Blockchain demonstrated aggregated data around wine shipments and a secure digital identity. With the possibility of wine fraud in the high end/rare wine market Blockchain can help guarantee the provenance of a bottle of wine from source to end purchaser through the whole supply and trading chain.
He said there are a number of challenges on the wine sector around data – and that Blockchain could offer a level playing field. With many procedures still carried out manually, the possibility of Blockchain could reduce/eliminate these to ensure greater accuracy for the sector.
Calogero highlighted that one of the main benefits of smaller organisations is the shorter decision making chains.
Understanding the customer properly means a better understanding of the purchase process.
He then spoke about the tamper evidence aspect of Blockchain, and how Blockchain offers a better governance structure for data.
Alex raised the point around data and GDPR. He asked whether all data acquisition now carried out is compliant with GDPR? How much data do we actually need to do our work on a day to day basis? How is it structured?
He warned against falling into the trap of unnecessary data complexity. The more complex the data, the harder it would be to analyse. Also links in with GDPR. A principal of ‘least amount required’ in terms of your personally identifiable information also applies to general reporting. You don’t need 1,000 item fields most of the time.
The size of organisation was also relevant to the means of data collection and analysis. For a smaller organisation, spreadsheets are sufficient. But for a larger organisation such as Liberty, Bevica is ideal.
Alex also raised the vital importance of having accurate system data for an organisation. In this way you can get the most out of your data to support customers.
He also reiterated that system change is painful and you should do it once and have it done well, as per TVision’s implementation of Bevica.
Jon raised a great point around the internal language used for data. It needs to be consistent and understood by all teams internally.
Enotria had done an internal review using a CGA report to help analyse the sales team requirements by geographical area to increase productivity.
With detailed customer segmentation Enotria are able to have a conversation rate (CVR) of 5-10% in customised marketing contacts vs the 1-1.5% CVR industry benchmarks.
Jon then talked about automation, making processes straightforward and faster. Imagine a restaurant being able to replace its used stock as an overnight order with no human intervention using OCR orders after a service has been completed. With route planning technology the order could be delivered in time for the restaurant to open and replace its stock. This in turn minimises the stock required in the Enotria warehouse.
Examples like these show the enormous power of accurate and consistent data in a single platform used across an organisation.
For a further detailed explanation how Bevica can help you interpret your data and help you to make better business decisions, please get in touch.