According to the latest Gartner report, “Hype cycle for consumer goods”, one of the most important trends in the years to come will be ‘Supply Chain Big Data Analytics’. As Noha Tohama, a Gartner expert, says, ‘Big Data analytics streamline supply chain processes from just seeing stock balances to asset and risk management’. As research demonstrates, in 2013, 72% of enterprises still worked on defining their own business cases for investment in technology using Big Data in the supply chain.

Data Quality Comes First

In Big Data analytics, it is the scope of the data collected that is most important, not its quantity. In order to produce satisfactory results, it is necessary that information that constitutes input data for our analysis is properly selected. Consequently, we turn from novelties and collecting as much data as possible, to an analysis of carefully selected information. It is extremely important that such information is complete and timely.

Comarch SFA Online Distribution is an innovative reporting and communication platform designed to facilitate cooperation between the producer and its network of distributors. This platform automatically reports data about sales and stock balance daily, which allows optimisation of stocks and production. The system is now used by over 650 wholesale food and chemical suppliers and reports data on resale and stock balances every day, which amounts to tens of millions of processed documents. The Polish branch of Carlsberg has 350 locations, which have been plugged into the platform in only 8 months. The expertise and experience of Comarch gained throughout its long-lasting cooperation with many distributors in bilateral and secure B2B communication ensure that data provided within the platform will always be of the highest quality, which our customers have already confirmed.

“For almost 10 years, we have worked with Comarch in electronic document interchange in our network of distributors. The key determinants of success in this are data quality and completeness. Comarch SFA Online Distribution meets these requirements by, for example, constantly monitoring the data sent by distributors, operating on the basis of procedures refined throughout the many years of our cooperation, and finally, by rigorously observing the required SLA level.” says Paweł Opoń, Senior Service Delivery Specialist from Nivea.

The data collected from distributors is processed, completed, made uniform, and then reported to the producer. However, the right tool is needed to use the data to its full potential. Comarch relies on the comprehensiveness of its solutions: this is why, separately from its communication platform designed to collect market data, the company delivers a reporting platform, which can present data in the form of pre-defined KPIs, tables, diagrams and intuitive dashboards depending on the needs of the business. For a more thorough analysis, the user can use OLAP cubes or, for increased precision, the Fast-Grid tool, which has been already recognized by Gartner analysts in the as the distinguishing feature of Comarch’s system against global software solutions providers in a report titled “Vendor Panorama for Retail Execution and Monitoring in Consumer Goods” (2013).

“Our cooperation with Comarch in terms of the Online Distribution system, which ensures electronic data interchange between distributors and Hortex, has allowed us to manage the sales network more efficiently thanks to permanent access to detailed resale data. Having successfully implemented a solution encompassing the juice product line, we decided to expand the scope of the reported data by food products. Thanks to the earlier experience of Comarch, it has been possible to extend the scope of reported information by data from a few dozen distributors sooner than we assumed initially. At present, we are extending the project by the modern Fast-Grid 2 solution available on the Online Sales Support platform, which allows much more detailed analyses in an easy-to-use and user-friendly way.” says Halina Pilich, Analysis Department Manager at Hortex Holding SA.

Data Visualization: Graphs, Maps, and Infographics

As for Big Data, we gather loads of information. But are we able to receive the actual added value? Data visualization is very helpful in this case. Thanks to visualization, we can observe interrelations, assess connections, and draw conclusions necessary for taking further actions, in an easy and intuitive way beyond what an average user could do when relying on just an ordinary table. Presenting data in the form of clear and readable graphs or viewing indicators allows a better understanding of information and facilitates decision-making processes. This makes it possible for a company to respond without delay and receive comprehensive knowledge about business growth factors. Modern applications supporting sales are not a mere presentation of reports in the form of graphs. They also include dashboards adapted to customer needs, giving access to clear and understandable specifications that contain all information necessary to manage one’s business in one place. They are equipped with alerts, which automatically draw the user’s attention to any abnormal phenomena. What is more, maps become a very useful tool for data presentation in sales applications in particular, where presenting geographically varied data is of great importance. Geomarketing allows the spatial visualization of trends and phenomena occurring in the whole sales network. It is not limited to only one dimension, and so can encompass the whole depth of data collections. Graphic presentation is able to communicate information more effectively, as it has more content than the text. Our customers are already aware of this and are willing to introduce such innovative tools to their businesses. Projects based on data visualization have been implemented, such as at Mars Polska Sp. z o.o., where reports available on the Comarch SFA Online Sales Support platform reconstruct the division of Mars into regions and areas on digital maps.

Act Comprehensively

As far comprehensiveness is concerned, one should not forget that it is possible to use the reports from distributors together with the data obtained from mobile systems or promotion management tools. By combining information from varied sources, we are able to deliver a full picture of happenings in our sales network and, as a result, set clear guidelines for further actions for field sales forces and marketing departments.

To sum up, access via the Online Distribution platform to high-quality and detailed data doesn’t just tighten cooperation among business partners by instant information flow and a clear system of mutual settlements. It also involves a more effective clearing of accounts by sales representatives, analysis of the effectiveness of central and local marketing actions and the presentation of the sales share of freely configurable product categories against the competition. This allows companies to come to conclusions more easily, to make intuitive analyses, and as a result, to promptly respond to market changes, gaining a competitive advantage. The above aspects contribute to why, when leading producers choose their reporting tools from the traditional sales channels, they go for Comarch.

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