BI: Linking Time-Tested Business Sense to Modern Technologies
There’s no doubt about it – the distribution industry is rapidly changing, spurred on by trends like e-commerce and cloud-based infrastructure while creating new challenges for distribution professionals to overcome.
However, before you can begin to address those changes or consider adopting a new strategy to propel your company forward, it’s important to remember the basics of good business – more specifically, it’s important to understand your customers, what makes them tick, and the exact value they represent to you.
This is why I believe BI (business intelligence) is arguably one of the most essential priorities for any organization – regardless of size, location, or industry – and the basis for some of Epicor’s most game-changing tools. With the right systems in place, BI can help improve nearly every facet of your business.
In addition to the powerful functionality that comes standard with Epicor products, we offer modules to customize our systems and meet the needs of individual organizations. Below are some of my favorite BI add-ons for Epicor Prophet 21 and Eclipse, and how they can help your organization provide remarkable customer service while also protecting your bottom line.
Business Analyzer allows users to quickly create and view charts, graphs, and reports required to make intelligent business decisions – without having to learn complex reporting tools. It comes with more than 80 pre-built queries, including year-to-date cash flow, 12 month trends in inventory value, and top sales representatives, customers, and suppliers in real-time.
Customer Buying Trend Analysis applies a series of Six Sigma® statistical models to determine customers who have a proven, consistent buying pattern for specific items. The system then reports on which of these customers’ buying habits are trending up or down the fastest on an item-by-item basis as well as the financial impact this has on a company.
Customer Profit Analyzer helps determine most (and least) profitable customers, based on an equation that incorporates your individual variables and weighting. It can help management and executives develop a model for the type of customers their sales team should target: high volume, high profitability, and low cost to serve. This data can be configured to appear in a simple and intuitive dashboard.
Strategic Pricing makes it possible to determine the best price for every product with just a few keystrokes, freeing users up to spend more time on value-added tasks. Think this one doesn’t apply to you? Research conducted by Strategic Pricing Associates, Inc. has shown many distributors charge customers too little for some products.
Prophet 21 XL Connect delivers clear, precise, and real-time business reporting by pulling data directly from the Prophet 21 system into Microsoft® Office Excel® spreadsheets. Because it uses a Microsoft Excel interface, the system is intuitive, training is fast, and users quickly become more productive.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg – Prophet 21 and Eclipse both offer many more options for personalization of your business software without customizations; Epicor offers separate solutions (including BI tools) for manufacturers and retailers as well.
To some extent a buzzword of its own, “BI” is simply the process of gathering the right data at the right time and analyzing it in a way that enables organizations to make better, more-informed decisions. It’s a great example of time-tested business strategy catapulted into the future with the use of modern technologies.
Interested in any of the tools above or learning more about one of Epicor’s industry-leading software solutions? Contact us for more information here.
You may also want to check out “Reasons to Retire Your Homegrown Distribution ERP System,” a whitepaper from the Epicor distribution team that explores the benefits of specialized software.
Posted by Michael Lovelace, Director of Business Development, Distribution Group