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Let's Make Business Analytics Actionable and Smarter

Let's Make Business Analytics Actionable and Smarter

August 31, 2018

“Business analytics is still in its infancy with most of it being descriptive, and few models are prescriptive,” says Michael Wu, who just joined PROS as their chief artificial intelligence strategist (how’s that for a title?). He continues in his blog: “With modern advancement in machine learning, many interesting predictive models are now possible. We have no shortage of data. As big data technologies are commoditized, the accessibility to data will only increase. What we need is smart data analytics to distill petabytes of big data into actionable bits.”

I love the way Michael cuts through the “big data” hype in the linked post above on smart data. Here’s an example: “The value of big data is overrated, but it’s an important enabler…. However, what businesses really need is insight that helps them make better decisions.”

I’m excited that Michael will be our keynote speaker at the MDM Analytics Summit 2018 in less than a month. His insight will help frame our sessions on distribution pricing, profitability, inventory and sales/marketing analytics. He will push our thinking about how quickly artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming the nature of analytics from descriptive to prescriptive. 

And folks, we need our thinking pushed when it comes to analytics. Through our research and eight years of growing MDM Analytics, we see an increasing gap between two types of distributors:

  1. Those moving forward relentlessly to  leverage analytics to help drive their decisions and processes, and,
  2. Those who are too busy with day-to-day minutiae to spend time building analytics into the business. 

Many business leaders spend more time “working in the business” than “working on the business,” and it’s difficult to break out of that cycle. 

Competitive Advantage

Increasingly, regardless of company size and talent resources, analytics is defining competitive advantage in distribution markets. There’s no question it’s being driven faster by the digital disruptors now on the block. The tip of the sword in distribution is in pricing and profitability, but there is so much opportunity to drive growth with effective sales and marketing analytics. Every aspect of distribution operations has to be evaluated to reduce cost and increase efficiency. There are too many market pressures not to leverage the data in your systems to guide better decision-making and ultimately, business performance. 

The days of individual analytical exercises are giving way to more holistic approaches. First, there’s the continuum of any company’s analytics journey, from the descriptive (think Excel or dashboards of historical performance) to predictive to prescriptive. And there’s also the element of how to prioritize and manage the ways you can create a data-guided – if not data-driven organization. Isolated analytics programs can be outsourced. A longer-term, holistic analytics strategy has to be an internal responsibility with a leader to guide your journey. That’s what’s producing truly transformative results today for those who have taken the first of many steps.

I hope you can join us Sept. 18-20 in Denver for the MDM Analytics Summit 2018. I’m excited to host a great line-up of sessions, speakers and networking with distributors at every step of the analytics journey to help you or your team member with analytics responsibility to advance your analytics program. Please contact me at with any questions about the conference.

© 2019 Gale Media, Inc.

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