Top Trends in Business Intelligence

The most successful distribution organizations have found ways of connecting data, people and insights. What makes them leaders is their ability to unlock advantages inside their CRM and ERP data. Unfortunately for most companies, the data in their organization is fragmented across different platforms making it difficult to share and analyze data across the entire enterprise.

Distribution is undergoing an insight-driven transformation where the best companies are leveraging their data as a strategic asset that leads to faster and better decisions. This transformation requires data literacy for all of your employees, from the back office to front line sales.

Many distributors are confused about this new landscape. How do you move into an era of data-driven competitive advantages without burdening your IT staff, worrying about security and taking on new training around difficult to use tools? How do you connect the data that currently exists in silos with the least amount of disruption?

We wanted to share five (5) emerging trends that will make this possible for distributors in 2018.

Trend 1: Data Literacy is Now A Company-wide Requirement

What is data literacy? It is the ability to read, work with, analyze and communicate using data. It has become a key skill that wasn’t even considered a priority just a few years ago. But modern business intelligence technology has changed all of that. In their report, “Information as a Second Language: Enabling Data Literacy for Digital Society,” Gartner predicted that by 2020, 80% of companies will actively work to develop the data literacy of their employees because of the enormous advantages data literacy can provide to an organization. How will they do this? The vast majority of distributors are turning to software platforms like SMP to help them create a structured approach to their data and data literacy.

Trend 2: Hosted Software and Integrations Help Distributors Connect the Dots

The rapid rise in cloud and hosting technology in the distribution industry has exceeded most analysts expectations. SMP was an early leader in the distribution industry in providing all-in-one, easy-to-use, cloud-based SaaS software for sales management and business intelligence. SMP is also a leader in integrations to distribution-specific ERP systems. By having a single hosted platform that maintains powerful integrations between your CRM and ERP systems, you can better understand the relationships between your customer and sales behavior and connect it to important operation information about customers, geographies, product lines and more. With the addition of SMP’s data visualization powered by BI leader Qlik, your entire team can easily bring the whole picture of your company together through data on one easy-to-use platform. A single, hosted platform lowers your cost of ownership, makes training easier and provides you with higher effectiveness with integrated data across your ERP, CRM and BI systems.

Trend 3: Data Needs to Be Available Everywhere

Your team needs to be able to access dashboards and business intelligence where they need it most – while serving your customers. That means your data must be easily accessible and communicated on any number of mobile devices and in different settings. Accessing data in front of customers allows you to share important information and analysis with your customers during your face-to-face meetings. We realize that not everyone in your organization will need incredible access to detail every time and that your employees have varying levels of data skills. By providing pre-built visualizations right to their workplace – in the office or in the field – you will get the right information to the right people at the right time. Your entire team will be empowered with data and analytics in ways you’ve never considered.

Trend 4: Data Has Become a Conversation

Most distributors use data in very traditional ways, typically canned reports that might then be put into presentations or meeting handouts. SMP is changing all of that with drag-and-drop dashboards and visualizations. These powerful tools allow you to change your views “on the fly,” during meetings and calls to fit your needs right in the moment. That makes data conversational. Instead of simply presenting old findings, these simple tools allow you to make new queries, drill down into data, make new visualizations and pivots and more to lead data-driven discussions with your teams. When your team can truly interact with data, you will unlock many more valuable insights than you would with standard reporting tools.

Trend 5: Analytics Are Now Immersive

Interactive data visualizations are an immersive experience that can engage your employees and customers in ways you never thought possible. On it’s own, data isn’t immediately useful. Most companies collect a lot of data in many areas but find it difficult to use that data to inspire employees and customers. Interactive dashboards allow you to tell data stories. Humans are hardwired to respond to stories. Our ancestors told stories to share information and build a common understanding. Compelling stories create order from chaos and help people remember what is really important. SMP users are now using data story telling to highlight what is really important and unique and focus attention in the right areas during discussions. This immersive data experience allows you to share insights with customers, explore data together for a collaborative experience and make a lasting impact.

Are You Ready to Get Started?

SMP can help you in your business intelligence journey. We can show you the first steps in bringing together your CRM, ERP and BI data into a single platform, letting you explore data in any direction and uncover new opportunities for growth.

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