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Ad-hoc Analytics: BI on Your Terms

December 22, 2014

Step 4 in a series on becoming a data-driven organization with the help of ad-hoc analytics.
This is the fourth installment in our series devoted to becoming a data-driven retail organization. You can catch up on anything you missed in step 1, step 2, and step 3

Business intelligence and analytics are often introduced into companies gradually. Start small, think big, and -- with the help of a comprehensive BI strategy -- climb the ladder of skills and utilization to become truly data-driven. When companies first set out on this journey, they most commonly cite "enhanced reporting capabilities" as the reason they're implementing BI. But Business intelligence is so much more.

Data-driven organizations aren't confined by reporting cycles and pre-configured KPIs. Business intelligence and analytics operates on your terms. Want to learn more about a figure you saw in a recent report? Have a burning question that doesn't need to become a recurring KPI? That's where ad-hoc analytics comes in.

Ad-hoc analytics is exactly what you think: it's the technology that allows users to create analyses and reports on an individual basis, rather than exclusively in the context of recurring reports.

With ad-hoc analytics, you aren't limited to the confines of the data warehouse. You can quickly and easily pull in data outside the data warehouse in Excel spreadsheets and even data external to your company to explore a hunch.

I was going to stick with my supermarket analogy from my previous posts, but in the spirit of the holiday season, let's talk toys!

ad-hoc Santa

Christmas is just around the corner and as Santa Claus, you're up against a non-negotiable deadline. If your elves working manufacturing in the North Pole Workshop send you a spreadsheet of their own supply chain figures, you can incorporate that data into an analysis in a single click without having to go through extra steps of adding it to the data warehouse. No technical skills required. 

Or say the elves from Marketing bring you the updated Naughty and Nice list compiled from the most recent external behavioral survey from parents, you can have those figures benchmarked against those already in your database from last year's numbers in a matter of minutes. 

Need to analyze what this year's hottest toys for boys and girls are to make sure the elves are producing enough? Just pull in that data from social media, consumer reports, or the National Retail Federation reports and you're good to go. 

Ad-hoc analytics makes business intelligence accessible to everybody and gives the power of insight to everybody in the workshop … ahem … company who might benefit from it.

There's also the benefit of sharing those analytics outside the organization. Consider your suppliers. How useful would it be to them to receive a regular report of how much of their stock was hanging around your storerooms? The knowledge that their products aren't moving may inspire them to undertake new marketing efforts. And to that end, sharing turnover rates with vendors can indicate to them whether their marketing programs have been successful or not.

There are a myriad of benefits of ad-hoc reporting. And if any of these one-off analyses do hit a goldmine of valuable data, you can then add the source to the data warehouse and regularly incorporate it in your reports and analyses. Give the power to the people to find the information they need, no matter where it lives, and make sure to embed the information

into the daily business routines example by giving access to date directly in the ERP or CRM system or any other system used on a daily basis. Finally be able access to the relevant information on any device like information screens, tablets, and any other mobile device.

Your company's been on the Nice list this year. Reward everyone with ad-hoc analytics.


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