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In the digital age, competitive businesses and value chains run on data. In our research, one distributor shared that “Data and analytics are like raw power. They can take you a long way in the right direction, a long way in the wrong direction, or no direction at all.”
Careful design and implementation of data and analytics capabilities are critical for all distributors, large and small, in all lines of trade. Jim Sterne, the founder of the eMetrics Summit and Chairman of the Digital Analytics Association, shared six essential capabilities for an effective analytical organization. We’ve added our distributor-centric definitions to each of Sterne’s essential requirements for digital capabilities and suggest that every distributor create a definition for its own business, followed by a plan for developing the capability:
• Visionaries – See the possibilities for leveraging data and analytics for competitive advantage and differentiated customer experiences
• Strategists – Link data and analytics capabilities to strategic objectives
• Implementation directors – Organize, clean and use data and plan any effort related to building or using data and analytics capabilities
• Project managers – Project managers with experience in data and analytics initiatives
• Managers – First-line managers across the organization who implement new processes and drive your data-driven culture
• Worker bees – Analysts and data workers
Community concepts are taking on a special meaning for distributors as businesses seek to create competitive advantage by aligning with shared interests of end-users and business customers. Community strategies start with listening and following through with resources to help community members achieve their personal and professional goals. At their best, community strategies build brand strength and awareness and help generate and retain business. Here are three ideas for community strategies and initiatives:
• Work with your local Chamber of Commerce on economic development initiatives – Communities attract new businesses based on the quality of life for their families and the quality of business for running their operations. Distributors have a considerable impact on the quality of business in every city, county, state and region. By partnering with economic development organizations, distributors can offer tours for visiting executives, startup programs for launching new businesses and transfer programs for moving operations.
• Work with the professions that define your end-users, decision-makers and buyers – This approach involves understanding the professional standards and challenges of relevant communities and finding ways to deploy resources to assist community members. Examples include focusing on welders, electricians, buyers or facility managers. Execution can be as simple as joining community organizations. Social media can be used to provide essential information or let community members tell their own stories. At their core, these efforts are often about facilitating a flow of information in the form of best practices, new solutions and creative ideas.