Business analytics for vineyards

About the company

Started in 1844, Hess Family Wine Estates is a family-owned, fourth-generation company with a deep commitment to responsible agricultural and business practices. Founded in Bern, Switzerland, the group seeks, develops, and mentors businesses worldwide that reflect the company's values of tradition, quality, and sustainability.

Their Challenges
  • Hess lacked a user-friendly way to pull data from Dynamics NAV and other data sources into a single view
  • Combining data was daunting and time consuming
  • Employees lacked a real-time view of the entire business.
How we helped
  • TARGIT offered a cohesive solution that delivered immediate ROI
  • User-friendly access to insight ensures employees never miss previously hidden details
  • Forecasting that used to take hundreds of hours now takes a few minutes.
We’re now having discussions around the data instead of waiting for the data to be generated. The flexibility is key. If you don’t have this, you don’t know what you’re missing.
- Paul Righello, Former Business Analyst, Hess Collection Winery

The Start of the Winery's BI Journey

Since breaking into the U.S. winery market in 1978, Hess Collection Winery has served as a testament to winery founder Donald Hess's belief in sustainable and biodynamic farming practices.

The value of sustainability extends further than the company’s agricultural methods, however. With over 150 employees helping to produce over 650,000 cases of wine each year, the Hess Collection has depended on TARGIT Decision Suite since 2004 to ensure business practices are continuously improving effectively and efficiently, opening doors for new sustainable business strategies.

Before TARGIT, the Hess Collection struggled to access data in disparate systems throughout the company. They launched Microsoft Dynamics NAV in 2003 but lacked a simple way to pull data from that system into other databases and spreadsheets. Data was siloed in disconnected databases for each department, so a task such as combining shipment and inventory information into a single spreadsheet was daunting and time-consuming. Because of this, it was impossible to get an up-to-date view of the entire business with data employees could rely on.

Andrew Ridling, Former Director of Business and Information Systems at Hess Collection, kicked the tires on a number of BI solutions but was quickly wooed by TARGIT’s powerful back-end cube building and self-service analytics, as well as the solution’s attractive price point. TARGIT allows a level of sophistication and flexibility, unlike any other business intelligence solution Ridling has experienced at a price much lower price than the competitors.

Before implementation, Ridling took an extensive, four-day TARGIT University class to ensure he had the proper training to hit the ground running. He is now a Certified TARGIT Professional. With initial guidance from TARGIT U instructors, he built his first cubes and went home with a confident understanding of the technical aspects of TARGIT. Just as importantly, he gained a solid understanding of the data points and metrics that matter most for Hess, so the company didn’t fall victim to information overload, which commonly results in BI project failure.

Progress with TARGIT was immediately apparent. Hess was able to quickly build a cohesive solution with dashboards, reports, and alerts presented in data visualizations that make finding answers easy for all employees, no matter the role or department. TARGIT users are able to easily narrow down the business insight from a 30,000-foot view to the most intricate details.

TARGIT's custom solution has allowed for immediate control since implementation. There’s no need to wait for anyone else to pull or edit data because everything is self-service. Users were getting the answers they were looking for in TARGIT Decision Suite right out of the box. 

“TARGIT has the power of a huge solution with all the advantages of a lean system,” says Ridling. “When we want something, I have it in an instant.”

Management’s "A-Ha!" Moment

While the technically minded at the Hess Collection saw the value of TARGIT almost instantly, Ridling says he’ll never forget when the software awed the company President. He was used to being presented with the data that he needed to make decisions but didn’t bother with the technical systems himself.

When Ridling first presented TARGIT to him, he drilled down to the East Coast sales in a demo. There, they saw that an account was down 200 cases for the year. The President wanted to know exactly what was going on. He took that data and immediately called the sales rep for that region. Since the sales rep hadn’t adopted TARGIT into his daily work life, he didn’t even know that cases were down for that one restaurant. Up until that moment, the detail had gone unnoticed. With the knowledge in hand, he could pick up the phone and call the buyer and negotiate.

As a result, not only did they catch a detail that could have been a costly company oversight, but both the C-suite and sales team realized they needed to make TARGIT a part of their daily work process.

“That was an a-ha moment,” says Ridling. “I knew TARGIT was validated the moment it happened, and from that point forward, the whole company would be using TARGIT.”

Once the Hess Collection saw the results of having TARGIT a part of their daily workflow, the company worked with TARGIT partner Business Impact to take their solution to the next level. Business Impact is a business intelligence and analytics consulting agency with extensive technical expertise in a variety of industries. The company specializes in using TARGIT to help customers unlock the valuable data stuck in their IT systems through proper data staging, delivery, and presentation.

Business Impact also helped further train Hess employees based on the TARGIT tools and techniques they found most valuable for their individual business. Today, every department of the company has technically proficient users, or Business Users, with many Information Consumers who rely on the data being delivered to them in concise reports and analyses regularly.

“Business Impact is great at pulling out exactly what we need to cater training and highlight features that work best for us,” says Ridling. “With our knowledge of TARGIT, we’ve not been able to produce what someone wants. So they’re never waiting for answers from an analyst across the country to do it for them.”


There’s no more assumptions; there’s facts.


Today, TARGIT pulls data from multiple data systems throughout the company and delivers everything into user-friendly reports and analyses. Because data is automatically pulled into the proper data cubes, employees save dozens of hours each week that used to be spent pulling data from disparate data systems and putting them all together in different reports.

This is appreciated by all the BI user personas at the Hess Collection. Not only the BI Business Users who spend time creating these reports and dashboards but the many Information Consumers in every department who now get the information they need in a fraction of the time in a way that makes the most sense to them. 

One of the most commonly used TARGIT features is the trigger tool to create dashboards quickly and easily. Triggers help employees tunnel through their data down to the details to see precisely what is driving (or not driving) business, whether it’s one specific product or multiple products. 

Perhaps most impressive, says Hess Collection's Former Business Analyst Paul Righello, is the company’s ability to forecast. In the past, it would take hundreds of hours of manpower to create a forecast from the company’s disparate spreadsheets. Today, forecasting is done in minutes, with no risk of human error like there was when numbers were pulled by hand.

“It’s a game-changer in this industry,” says Righello. “It’s hard to put a value measure on TARGIT. We use it to run our entire business. It’s where our reporting comes from, all of our bonus programs, literally everyone uses that data. Everyone can understand our business better without needing to rely on anyone else to get them the data they need to make decisions. We couldn’t imagine life without TARGIT.”

The Hess Collection has customized its TARGIT system to manage the company’s pricing system across the country. Employees understand where the money is going, exactly what it’s spent on, and if it’s working. Pricing is now understood down to a granular level.

“We’re doing with TARGIT what the biggest names in the wine industry are doing, with a user interface that is slicker and friendlier than anything I’ve ever seen,” says Righello. “When we get asked a question, we can answer it in minutes. When people need to know the whys and hows, we’re able to pull up the screen and give them the answers with hard facts. It’s a more efficient way to do the job. There’s no more assumptions; there’s facts.”

Important KPIs, such as depletion rates, are monitored and measured, giving greater insight into what’s working and what’s not. Depletions are tracked by brand, channel, or state. Depending on the depletion levels the user would like to see, TARGIT makes it easy to change dimensions to deliver the right data in an instant. 

Previously, this would take days, if not weeks, to change dimensions and print out a new, static, lengthy report. TARGIT changed the way reporting is done at Hess. The streamlined reporting process eliminates back and forth, and the answers laid out in the data eliminate debate. Problems are identified and solved faster than ever thought possible. 

Management doesn’t want to look at numbers on a page. With TARGIT, they get the data they need in simple data visualizations.

“We’re now having discussions around the data instead of waiting for the data to be generated,” says Righello. “The flexibility is key. If you don’t have this, you don’t know what you’re missing.”

In the future, Hess would like to incorporate TARGIT Data Service into their existing solution. With external elements such as competitive information, weather data, and trends all able to affect winery business, it would be valuable to have the ability to pull all of this external data and mash it up with internal company data. Being able to do it on the fly would also let users judge the value of additional data before taking the time and effort to build it into a data cube. They also have ambitions to pull daily invoicing into TARGIT to improve efficiency.

“There’s so much we can do with TARGIT; it’s not a matter of can we do it, it’s when can we do it,” says Ridling. “TARGIT’s the best BI tool I’ve ever used.”

Righello agrees, “It will change the way you do business. In my experience, I’ve never seen anything better.”

Originally published March 17, 2020. Updated September 26, 2023