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Retailers, CPG’s demand faster analytics

A new survey by IMTS US probed executives at 200 retail and consumer packaged goods companies about their use of data analytics. It found that many of them still rely on outdated reporting systems in order to gain insight into store segmentation, demand and inventory planning, stock reports and other activities.

The ability to get insightful information to store managers, brand managers, regional buying executives and other line managers has come a long way, but still has tremendous room to grow, according to the survey that was sponsored by Kognitio, an analytical platform software company. These managers need to gain insight into their activities much faster than at present. This is among the most important outcomes many businesses expect to receive when they look for ways to provide an analytical acceleration to their current business intelligence (BI) solutions.

While 63 percent of respondents said they use some form of dashboard software or dedicated business intelligence tools, many of these may still be using this in combination with older technologies. More than a third of organizations admitted they still use paper BI reports (often via .pdf), while Excel documents as de-facto business reports are still a common sight in half of firms.

But these older technologies will often not be adequate for providing the speed and responsiveness these customer-facing businesses need to be agile in today’s demanding environment. Seven out of ten businesses said they would like to see reports generated at least once a day, with more than a fifth of firms expecting multiple results each day, or reports that can be updated ‘on demand’.

The survey also found 64 percent of companies get less than half of their reports in real-time.

Overall, almost half of the people somewhat or strongly agreed that their organization needs to reduce the total cycle times for processing brand management reports. This highlights the need for better, faster analytics technologies such as in-memory that can reduce the time it takes to answer queries and present users with useful insight.

Many firms who responded to the survey felt they could be doing more to boost their use of BI and big data analytics. 55 percent described their current ability to use data to grow and improve their business as only adequate, while just three percent had the confidence to describe their current solution as ‘world-class.’

What’s more, just one percent rated the level of actionable insights they currently derive from their reports as ‘world class,’ while just 29 percent described their performance as ‘better than average.’

The importance of being able to provide line managers with reports that use analytics effectively was highlighted separately by Gartner, which noted there are several challenges for which the use of data will be able to help businesses adapt. It observed that increased competition in the market, higher costs and greater regulatory pressures will be among the factors that drive business leaders to adopt advanced analytics tools in order to make smarter decisions.

It was also noted by the market research firm that real-time dashboards, as well as tools such as mobile BI, will be key pieces of the solution that help improve the pervasiveness of BI and ensure that ordinary business personnel throughout the company are able to take advantage of the insights offered.
The survey did, however, note that progress is being made in some key areas. Nearly two-thirds of businesses stated they already have a formal strategy in place for dealing with alternative sources of information. Unstructured data such as that gathered from social media, the internet and email will have an increasingly important role to play in the coming years for retailers looking to better understand their customers.

More information on the survey can be found online at www.kognitio.com/survey.  Businesses are encouraged to contact the firm to receive a presentation with the details of the survey.