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Leveraging Your Big Data Is Key

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October 15, 2012- 

If you’re like most manufacturers, distributors and logistics companies, you’re probably experiencing an unprecedented deluge of data that’s collected through a variety of sources, ranging from sensors and RF tags to more sophisticated ERP and CRM systems. A recent study by Oracle indicates that average daily volume of information handled by managers has increased by more than 85% in the past 2 years, writes Rob Glenn, PROS General Manager, EMEA.

The sheer wealth of data available today can be overwhelming. Adopting smart strategies to make use of all this data will be the keyto competitive advantage over the next few years. Manufacturers, distributors and logistics professionals who understand the potential offered by what has become known as ‘big data’ will thrive.

rob-glenn.jpegBig data is one of the major driving forces that is changing information management and analytics. It’s a popular term used to express the exponential growth and availability of all kinds of information, both structured data (figures) and unstructured data (documents, images, video etc.).

The bottom line is that companies operating in highly volatile and competitive global markets need a smart strategy to handle the data deluge that modern technology makes possible. That means putting together a plan for how to organise and analyse this information to gain actionable insights. Only by channelling this flood of information and analysing it properly can businesses hope to make better strategic and real-time decisions that deliver advantages.

There are several key questions that your big data strategy must answer: Where do I focus my attention in this deluge of data? How do I use this data to enhance my product/service value with customers? How can I support my sales efforts to close sales and protect margins?

Companies that can best answer these types of questions with a smart strategy for managing bid data will reap the benefits of insights, which they can turn into actions to meet customer needs more effectively. This becomes a critical task as we exploit unprecedented levels of real-time visibility that modern information systems make possible. We simply have to analyse and manage information assets more efficiently to gain greater visibility and control over supply chain costs, pricing and deal quoting, along with sales support in a world that demands communication from anywhere at any time.

In a fast-paced global economy with more complex and intricate supply chains, many companies have lost the ability to properly understand the impact of raw material cost changes or how currency fluctuations can affect their margins and profitability. Advanced scientific analytics combined with software computing power, however, now makes it possible to track and manage costs dynamically in near real time. This enables companies to adjust prices with greater frequency and in smaller increments, reflecting market conditions or raw material costs.

At the other end of the spectrum, advanced analytic software can provide a practical means to harness the large volumes of customer transaction and related data captured by today’s ERP and CRM systems. Called price optimisation, this type of technology allows companies to segment their customer markets and be far more selective in pricing products based on shared customer behaviours, allowing them to get very specific in where and when to adjust prices.

Price optimisation uses many concepts that are relatively new to B2B marketers. Rather than simply discounting to hit targets and close deals, manufacturers, distributors and logistics companies can actually determine an individual customer’s ‘willingness to pay’ for specific products or services based on the customer’s peers and past purchasing behaviour. In addition, advanced analytics in price optimisation can go beyond the typical spreadsheet or ‘gut feel’ approach to contract negotiations to actually predict or suggest a range of price elasticity that will increase the odds of winning more deals.

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