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Business intelligence and insight - the key to enhancing customer experiences

30 June 2016

Technology has become a significant enabler across the Retail, Hospitality, Sports, Leisure and Events markets. Businesses are looking more and more for real Intelligence and Insight to influence behaviours of colleagues and customers alike.

Elements of Insight are common to any consumer-facing business, traditionally focussing on management efficiency and control. Genuine knowledge of who buys what, why, where, when and how often has, at best, been a secondary output of management culture. From the advent of technology-based retail solutions - the first tills and cash registers for example – focus was placed on collecting revenue and then managing post event.

The evolution of EPoS has influenced and changed this focus, providing the “way-in” for generating real Business Intelligence.  Networked solution infrastructures presented daily access to data from multiple locations, brands and formats. Today increasingly popular cloud-based solutions – consumer engagement applications spanning loyalty, promotions, digital vouchers and feedback, not to mention new flexible payment solutions including mobile – provide immediate visibility of a plethora of measurements and metrics. 

The more forward-looking operators have quickly realised that looking at silos of data in isolation provides a one dimensional view of the business. Managing the complete supply-chain cycle “purchase-to-pay” is a focus for Commercial Managers; Marketing Executives look at the effective planning and execution of promotional initiatives; HR, Profit Protection, Operations Management can concentrate on what’s important to their areas of expertise.

Real value lies in reviewing and analysing across the many and varied elements of a retail operation, using the output to drive decisions and influence behaviours. For example, effective supplier relationships generate successful promotional activities; positive employee development programs directly impact shrinkage and customer service experiences.

Harnessing the ease of use and power of cloud-based systems most effectively gives enlightened management significant advantages over their peers and competitors. How this Insight is consumed – real-time; targeted; specific; available on a variety of hardware form factors (“Right  Time, Right Place, Right Form”) – is critical to supporting the delivery of Business Excellence. Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity enables Mobile platforms – phones, tablets, hybrids and laptops – to receive alerts and exception reporting in real time.

The benefit of this access cannot be taken without a re-assessment of how “end users” and “information providers” interact; relationships between central functions and operations management need to evolve, a fresh dynamic emerging.

An often overlooked component of this emerging culture is provision and management of input data. The failure to identify a disciplined data support structure is often crucial to how EPoS deployments are perceived by a wider community. The age-old adage – “Garbage in, Garbage out” – has never been more appropriate. Delivering the Insight demanded by business stakeholders is impossible without attention to how and who defines the content. To view coffee sales across dayparts, assess how successful the latest BOGOF promotion has been, review the supplier impact of raising the price of a cheese sandwich by 5%, requires careful attention to, or more realistically rationalisation of, what’s sold, where and at which price.

Business need should always drive the technology solutions. What best addresses challenges and issues in one market isn’t necessarily right for another. With the increasing focus on Enhancing Customer Experiences, delivering Business Intelligence is high on the WITY of key stakeholders across many verticals and markets.

The opportunity to better understand consumers, engage with customers and influence behaviours enables service providers to reap the benefits of deploying EPoS technology. Selecting a technology provider and solution able to deliver the Insight is a key investment decision; remember to make sure your partner has the flair and proven delivery capability to share in your future successes!

Jim Wilkinson has worked in Hospitality for more years than he cares to remember. Roles in Operations Management, IT, Business Partnering and Sales have provided wide experience of what drives successful Technology Programs across many sectors.

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