August 24, 2020
Over the last seven weeks, we have published a series of blogs on the six steps to becoming a data-driven organization and why being data-driven can be a strategic advantage for any business. The series finished with a webinar featuring Infor customer Steve McEnany, Vice President of Marketing and Technology at Midwest Wheel.
Steve described Midwest Wheel's journey to becoming a data-driven organization, and how they were able to leverage Infor's industry analytics suite to improve analytics adoption and deliver significant improvements across multiple departments, functions and data silos and achieve a best-in-class customer experience.
Before implementing Infor Birst, Midwest Wheel had a very spreadsheet-based approach to managing information. The problem was that these ad-hoc spreadsheets were prone to errors, and they wanted to move towards a single source of trusted information, and also wanted to ensure that this single source was secure and users could only see the information they were authorized to view.
The value of a reliable cloud-based modern data architecture was illustrated very clearly when Steve described how a derecho had moved through the Midwest region of the US just days before the webinar. This had resulted in three of their six warehouses running on generators and staff working from home. With a cloud-based data and analytics platform, Midwest Wheel staff still had access to their systems and could log in and analyze the latest sales data from their mobile devices. "This is a huge reason to be in the cloud," commented Steve.
The second step to becoming data-driven is automating data integration, and Steve described the value of using Infor's pre-built industry data models, reports, and dashboards. Steve explained how "the industry data models were a great jumping-off point for every report and dashboard we put together." They were able to easily modify the models to reflect the Midwest Wheel organization and personalize the analytics so that every user receives a unique experience. "This was something we had never had before," noted Steve.
The third step to becoming data-driven, delivering data-as-a-service across an organization is particularly important to Steve as they have a very lean IT organization. All their sales teams have self-service access to the information they need, whenever or wherever they need it. Combined with a modern, flexible user experience, the fourth step to becoming data-driven, enables Midwest Wheel staff to use analytics in a way that is right for them, including mobile access.
"Our executive team uses analytics to support supplier meetings. A supplier may comment that sales are off, and the executive can drill into and diagnose that information instantly. Our sales teams can answer questions from customers while they are on the road using the mobile app. I think that's the key, having the flexibility to access information; however, you need to," says Steve.
The final step to becoming data-driven is sharing information outside the organization. Midwest Wheel's product management team has begun to share inventory information with suppliers. If supplier fill rates are not where they should be, Midwest Wheel and the vendor can work together on trusted data until any issues are corrected. Steve believes that "because the data is at our fingertips, we can build more profitable partnerships with our suppliers by ensuring we have the right product at the right place at the right time."
During the webinar, we polled the audience on what they felt were the most significant challenges they had in becoming a data-driven organization, and the results are shown below:
Perhaps not surprisingly, the time taken to aggregate data for analytics stood out as the number one issue. This reinforces the importance of the first three steps: a modern data architecture, automation when integrating data and providing data-as-a-service to the business.
To discover more about the six steps you need to take to become data-driven read our best practice guide.