One of the newest buzzwords in business management is “big data.” With Internet and mobile technologies, businesses have ever-expanding datasets that offer the potential for deep insight into customer behavior, operational trends, and ways to change to more efficient business models. The concept is about the ability of a company to use the massive amounts of data generated to become more agile and responsive.
The concept is great, but there’s a major reality gap. Many distributors are already in data gridlock. IT budgets are being used to maintain and push forward existing systems to keep the wheels on the bus, not add significant functionality or gain significant competitive advantage over competitors. There are lots of data silos and dark alleys.
Before companies can start to think about big data analytics and what it promises, they need to take a hard look at how well they are managing the data sitting out here now – pricing, profitability, market, customer and other operational data. That’s my definition of big data!
How many different prices for the same product are in the system? What shape is your customer file in? How many different records do you have for the same customer, between ship-to, bill-to, sell-to? What effort is required to manage product information for catalog or other usage? The real issue for every company is how well it can make a transition from transactional to strategic when it comes to its data management. Distributors have much to gain from getting smarter and more analytical about the large quantities of transactional and operational data generated daily.
On April 12, MDM is hosting a free webcast that addresses this topic of managing data and information more strategically. I’m looking forward to hearing the story of how BlueLinx, one of the largest distributors of building products in the U.S. with $1.8 billion in 2011 revenues, made the transition to manage its information more stategically.
Prior to the 2008 housing market collapse, BlueLinx was proactive in cleaning up its product data to manage its information more strategically.
It not only paid off from a defensive standpoint – cutting costs, increasing efficiencies, optimizing inventory – but has positioned the company for success as it has pursued its current growth strategies, including e-commerce platform development.
I hope you’ll join us. Register here for the one-hour program at 1 p.m. EDT, April 12: www.mdm.com/data-webcast.