Cognos, a vendor of business intelligence (BI) software, has teamed with some BI pioneers to present a guidebook for the concept and use of BI, titled The Multidimensional Manager, 24 Ways to Impact your Bottom Line in 90 Days. This is an example of the 24 Ways, showing how BI software is being usedInformation, easy access to information and finding the most informative information is what has always given people and companies a competitive edge.
The 24 Ways details a method for using the most meaningful information for business - reports which detail activity that most affects profit. It tells how managers work multidimensionally - analysing the interaction of all the factors that produced these figures - and how business intelligence can greatly assist this process.
The book describes how the method can be used for all divisions of a manufacturing business, but the principles can be applied to any organisation, including service providers such as resellers.
This month, we look at sales.
Finding the right information from corporate data can be all-absorbing and overwhelming. And yet this information is necessary if, say, a sales force is going to be able to understand the factors behind success or lack of it.
The 24 Ways describes how business intelligence software enables sales managers to grab any combination of customer, product and sales territory to understand growth, mix and trend within that microcosm. Sales professionals can "drill" into data to isolate a major customer and then "slice" the overall customer revenue by product to see which products are driving the business in that account. They can compare the product story of that major customer with the story for any other customer.
Take the example of 10 salespeople who sell an average of 10 products each to 100 customers every month, with the corporation tracking five key indicators: when was the product sold, who was it sold to, what was sold, where was it sold and examining results over 24 months. The sales people or analysts are faced with 1,200,000 combinations.
Business intelligence software can analyse this information and get to what the 24 Ways describes as "sweet spots" - chunks of information that have the most impact on profitability. BI software "drills" into these sweet spots and presents information across cost centres and details variances clearly, graphically and speedily, enabling managers and their teams to work and plan with current performance indicators and results.
The book cites the example of Premier Beverages, a division of Dr Pepper/Seven Up, which found that after a four-hour training session, their salespeople could suddenly view and analyse their unit sales by product and customer.
The currency of the information cannot be over-emphasised: companies can distribute the previous day's order volumes, plus month-to-date plan, forecast, rolling forecast and stretch forecast onto account managers' desktop PCs daily.
Apart from arming a sales force with quality profiles with which to target and face customers, the 24 Ways asserts that the time saved gathering and reviewing information is immensely valuable: "According to Glaxo Welcome, business reviews for customers or within management that used to take a week now take an hour or part of a morning."
The 24 Ways method of using information "sweet spots", sourced via business intelligence software, and multidimensional thinking and analysis, speeds the absorption of information for all arms of a company, producing results in 90 days.
The Multidimensional Manager: 24 Ways to Impact your Bottom Line in 90 Days, Richard Connelly, Robin McNeill and Roland Mosimann, is available from Cognos.
Doing Business is a new column on conducting business better and smarter, written by vendors, distributors, consultants and other "experts". To enquire about submitting a column, please contact ARN's Helen Cousens (details on page five)