Historically, the value of a business focussed mostly on the health of the most recent balance sheet. Essentially accountants could, at a glance, determine asset strengths and liability weaknesses, then offer an informed viewpoint as to what actions were needed to improve things. As a process of its time, this worked fine.
But fast forward to the present, and although financial statements retain all their validity, the balance sheet does not declare the value of the business’ data — arguably one of the most important and under-utilised asset. The value of data cannot be understated, as the opportunities it offers are immense. Sitting in the depth and breadth of transactional information, customer activity, purchasing, stocking detail etc, there is value to be found through a variety of applications and interpretations of this data. You just need to have to right tools to extract its gold mine potential in order to make your business greater. Moreover, data is an asset that does not depreciate, but grows day-by-day, almost effortlessly. This is something that is extremely exciting for the future of any business, large or small.
Businesses must decide how best to work the data and bring home the spoils. Right now, you may be thinking about whether your current systems are up to the mark. Are they already maxed out in terms of harnessing the power of your data? Do you have absolute confidence in the quality of information you have available? Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and the impact on your business model. A review such as this can highlight weaker areas of your business model that, once addressed, can push your company up to larger successes.
Buying, stocking and distributing goods, in a trade, wholesale or even retail sector has moved on considerably since the dawn of the internet. Customer service expectations have been transformed to an on-demand model — a business that cannot fulfil an order quickly will be abandoned by a customer more than happy to shop elsewhere. Customers not only want to know your stock position, but they want and expect you to be looking after them pro-actively. Pro-active customer service requires quality communications to suit their needs. These processes are vital in order to make them feel important. But in order to achieve this, your systems need new levels of capability. Without it, you may find customers heading over to your competition instead.
In the same way that systems have become more sophisticated, more capable and more functionally rich, there is also an expectation to see greater ease of use and more flexibility. If applications are not intuitive then they simply won’t get used. Browser-based deployment and fully mobile-enabled capabilities are must-haves. At no point should a user be required to re-key data. Every application should be seamlessly integrated with one another.
Using data to make decisions is about having the relevant information you need available in an instant. More than that, you want the data to be presented ‘dashboard style’ for easy, timely decision-making and be able to highlight the opportunities within the complete picture, risk-free. Whether the task at hand is to spot gaps in buying patterns and sales trends, or to create effective new campaigns, being able to have your finger on the pulse has become mission critical. Those empowered and duly authorised to make the right informed decisions at the right time will be able to enjoy increased job satisfaction. At the same time, the business will be able to operate with renewed and profitable vigour.
Kerridge Commercial Systems for example, has been at the forefront of developing fully-integrated solutions to the manufacturing and distribution sectors for over 40 years. The company’s latest generation of advanced applications incorporate all the requirements for efficient trading with comprehensive CRM, data analysis, and decision-making capabilities. Tony Pey, Head of Product Marketing, says: “Our solutions have been finely developed in partnership with our customers over many years. Right at the forefront now in terms of applications that can help businesses make timely, well-informed decisions, our Vecta sales analytics and CRM solution is immensely capable. It enables the user to stay in the driving seat and run the business their way. Implementation is straightforward — Vecta is easy and intuitive to use and results can start to kick in within days of going live.”
What does the future of data management hold then? In short, the bar is likely to go up even further as competitive pressures grow. It is particularly exciting that businesses are employing young, enthusiastic, IT-savvy staff, who have a greater awareness of the potential of technology. Particularly, this generation of staff know how to make the most from the applications and tools available. Bringing this to the forefront means that any business can not only improve decision-making processes but have the implicit trust and confidence that the information before them is accurate and reliable. Together with the need to serve customers to the levels now demanded, this is what it’s all about — with a stronger balance sheet and healthier P&L to show for it.