11 June 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire
Actionable insight is the trick to allowing brands to pivot quickly for optimum ROI.Today we’re focusing on actionable insight via data and smart reporting when field teams work hand in hand with BI teams.
We spoke to Lindsay Hey, Technology Director and Megan Miller, Senior Sales Analyst and BI lead for our Technology clients, about data and insight in the technology and consumer electronics sector, and what areas they think the brands should focus on to stay agile and gain an advantage over their competitors.
Ultimate agility is created by combining and connecting 4 key data sources
Lindsay starts with, “It’s important for businesses to quickly respond to what’s happening in real time, but for that to happen they need to have robust data capture and reporting processes in place, and analytics to draw out the insight. For brands, ultimate agility is created by focusing on 4 key areas:
The key to having all 4 of these relies on a brand having the right team in the field to capture the data and action the insight, but also critically, the field team need to be powered by a BI analyst team in the office to build, automate reports and draw out the insight from the data to truly generate value for clients.
To get to a place where your reports work for you we need to back to the beginning… Megan tells us that getting the basics right is any brand’s “bread and butter” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s simple.
Building reports to handle the unknown is essential, and we don’t mean a fancy Excel.
Megan comments, “There are so many variables in a basic KPI report. When there are multiple roles and changing targets per quarter, the report must be built with this in mind from the outset. It’s easy to track data - anyone can do it - but what we do is a little different. Every report must do three things: ensure accuracy at every level, be easy for anyone to pick up and understand regardless of their background or experience and ensure that it generates value by drawing the insight to the fore.
“As with anything, the more variables that are involved, the more complicated it is, and the more difficult it becomes to automate. It’s important to automate the essentials to make it accurate, and this cannot be overlooked, because inaccurate data will have you looking in the wrong direction if you’re not careful. Remove any opportunity for human error, make it smart and package it into a suite that you can drill into quickly, get an overview, or see the real detail with the click of a button i.e. whatever you need. This can only be delivered by BI reporting; Excel isn’t the way to get there.
“Future proofing from the outset is essential. When building a report, we don’t start with the data, we start with a conversation. Some stakeholders are not always prepared for how many questions I'm going to ask them when it comes to building a report, but understanding their business, the needs, their strategy and how the environment they operate in might change is absolutely key. Otherwise, one of these unforeseen factors could side swipe us and suddenly the report and the data all becomes useless. In my team, we don't just build a report based on what you're asking of me now, we build reports based on what we know you're going to ask us to do in six months or a year. We're able to get the basics right because we look into the future and build our reports to handle problems that the client doesn't even know they've got yet.”
Triangulated insight gives brands a 360 view – but what is it?
Lindsay tells us, “Part of our job is to run triangulated insight. Our teams not only gather data, they also create it. Our analyst team works together with our field team to gather knowledge through macro level market data and intelligence, which helps us understand how to deploy teams. We’ve also developed capability to conduct short, cost efficient consumer panels to provide a deep dive into a particular moment, or category, for brands. This is really valuable when brands are launching NPD or looking to move into new sectors. We can quickly research consumer sentiment, which helps us devise our training and sales plans – we know what the consumer conversation should be about from a grassroots perspective. We also gather insight directly from the retailers, either quantitatively or qualitatively, because we have a network of retailers which we have developed relationships with over the years and we have hundreds of conversations with them every day.
This can be very useful because it helps to understand the barriers as to why consumers don’t buy products, or understand what consumers are not currently getting from the products on offer, or at least that’s how they perceive it. This helps us decide what to amplify in conversations with retail professionals during 1:1 and group training sessions, whether that’s in person, online or via eLearning modules.”
Is there anything brands should do as non-essential retail starts to open back up and consumers start to shop in store for electronics and technology again?
“What will be really interesting post-Covid is footfall traffic,” muses Linsday. “This is something we track already but it’s clear that people are shopping differently and at different times of the day, so we’ll be keeping a watchful eye on how this changes to understand trading patterns in essential and non-essential retail. It’s really important that we match our resource to where and when we’re needed for brands. Retailers won’t be opening their entire estate so demand will shift from what we knew before, while consumers may also do their essential and non-essential shopping at different times of the day or week to what they did before, whether that’s to fit round new schedules and working patterns, or to avoid queues and wait times, or to avoid people altogether to enjoy a safer shopping experience. The peaks will shift, potentially dramatically, so brands should be tracking this to stay on top and combine this with their other data to adopt the most agile approach in store.”
Megan adds, “If brands want to be truly agile, they need BI reporting. Smart, automated reporting is an investment as it’s built to last. It also allows you to have full visibility of your operations in real time, so your team can spend less time processing historic data and more time interpreting insight from live data to add value to your business. Brands need to be armed to make decisions today, it’s the only way to sell more. If they’re looking back on what happened last quarter, they’ve already missed the opportunity. This is more important now than ever as the rules of society are in flux. We don’t know exactly what will happen next quarter or even the next week. Brands need to set themselves up to be able to spot behaviours and trends in as near real time as possible and be able to respond to them just as quickly. Everything is changing so rapidly. Invest in reporting and analyst teams that can keep up.”
ABOUT THE EXPERTS:
For more information on Lindsay Hey, Technology Director, visit her LinkedIn page
For more information on Megan Miller, Senior Sales Analyst, visit her LinkedIn page.