Businesses had to quickly pivot to respond when the pandemic hit. They introduced new products and services, streamlined supply chains, implemented revised operating models, secured the remote workforce, and did whatever they could to retain and serve their customers.
All these changes required speedy decision-making. Some companies, having instituted a data-driven culture before COVID-19 struck, were able to lean on rapid, actionable data insights to get them through the pandemic challenges.
Take the example of grocery chain Harmons, which instituted a modern business intelligence (BI) platform several years ago that everyone — from the CEO to individual store clerks — could access based on their role. Senior leaders “see everything from HR to accounting, capital expenditures, labor reports, total store expenses, and gross margins,” says Todd Jensen, vice president of sales for the 19-store chain.
Store managers can view labor schedules and costs, plus product sales right down to individual-item levels. Even produce managers can view the top sellers in their department.
Having implemented a modern BI infrastructure and begun the transformation to a data-driven culture before COVID-19 struck became a significant advantage. As products such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and water started flying off the shelves, Harmons was able to run a consolidated report — in less than 30 minutes — of the top 4,000 items requested by its customers and turn that over to its suppliers and other supply chain partners.
There were some surprises in the data. For example, Spam hadn’t been on Harmons’ top 100 product list in years. But suddenly during COVID, it was in the top five. “Knowing our data put us ahead of other national retailers,” Jensen says.
The Challenges Inhibiting Data Exploration
A data-driven culture, combined with the right discovery tools, can cultivate curiosity. This, in turn, can help achieve a variety of business outcomes. But how do you get there? First, there are some obstacles to overcome.
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