Take A Look At The New Supply Chain Management Application!


BI@S has just released it’s new Supply Chain Management Application, check out this video to see how you could be using it to manage a Lean Supply Chain at your company!

To see some of the other Business Intelligence Applications by BI@S click here.and browse through the BI@S Dashboard Portal.

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Retail Doing Good Job With Analytics; It Can Still Get Better

We’ve pointed out in these blogs the many areas where retail enterprises excel in using advanced analytics–particularly at such retail giants as Home Depot, Walmart, Kroger, etc.  However, analytics still is a developing field and the true experts still are fairly few and far between.  Advanced analytics has not been a major focus of U.S. educational systems, however, and now that is changing.


College institutions are starting to provide Business Intelligence degrees

College institutions are starting to provide Business Intelligence degrees

Information Week has a good article about advanced analytics degrees now being offered by a variety of educational institutions.  That article is available here.  As the article points out, many colleges and universities now are offering  masters degrees in big data and analytics.  Some are one-year programs, others two years.  As the article points out: “All of these programs are geared to candidates who already have undergraduate degrees, and most favor professionals with three or more years of work experience. In many cases part-time options are available, so students can continue to work as they learn more about big data analytics.


As big data continues to grow at all kinds of businesses, there increasingly will be a need for this expertise.  If big data is the future–and increasingly it seems that is the case–getting qualified experts to work with it is essential.  The assembly line is up, you need to tap into it if big data is clogging your systems.

–Warren B. Causey

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Retaining Customer Loyalty in a Cutthroat Market: Securing Your Customers at a Time When It’s Every Man for Himself

The current retail market resembles a landscape from the Mad Max movies; everywhere you turn, there’s some new threat, whether it’s a market-leader tightening their grip, or some young upstart—aggressive but short-lived—trying to steal your niche.  The hasty advancement of technology combines with recession-conscious spending to cause every retailer to lose their footing.  But now more than ever, retailers must stand firm, adapt their practices, and defend what they’ve spent years building.


Tina Turner has always played a role in the retail industry

In recent years, the power is shifting to the hands of the consumers.  Social media has lent a megaphone to the voice of the customer.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter remind us of the old adage, “Do something right, the customer tells three friends, do something wrong, they tell ten.”  Reputations ebb and flow based on what your patrons are saying online about their shopping experience with your store.  And whether consciously or not, the general public is realizing their advantage by altering their purchasing habits.


Today’s shoppers are less likely to fall for gimmicks or accept bad deals.  If they have even an inkling that they’re getting cheated, they’ll flee; they know a better deal can be found by pushing a few buttons.  Any retailer that’s dead-set on sticking to their traditional strategies will find their customers slipping through their fingers.  The time has come to show humility and allow the customer to be king.


That means stepping up customer service.  Because shoppers have less money for discretionary spending, they are going to make the most out of what cash they have.  When they visit a store, they expect a pleasant experience—anything less will lose their business.  They are expecting the retailer to go the extra mile for the customer, and if it doesn’t, they’ll find one that will.


But there is another side to this coin.  If a store manages to give the customer what they want—a good deal with good service culminating in a good experience—then the customer will recognize and remember the effort.  A retailer’s hard work in providing the desired shopping atmosphere will be rewarded with their customer’s loyalty, a prize whose value grows higher as the competition intensifies.


And what does customer loyalty mean?  For one, it means that as a retailer, you’ve done your job.  You’re happy, your customer’s happy; they have the product they want and you’ve made some money.  But there’s more to it than that.  If you’ve set up the avenues for them, your customer may Like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or even just mention online how happy they are with you.  That’s free advertising, any way you cut it.


But the real trophy of customer loyalty is repeat patronage.  Not every shopper wants to be continually searching and comparing pricing.  If you’ve proven to them that you can satisfy their shopping needs, the next time they need to buy something, they’ll think of you.  Customer loyalty is the gift that keeps on giving, even (or especially) in a dark economic times.  Isn’t that worth fighting for?


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Retail Catching On To Big Data, Customer Service

I’ve written before in this space about how I became a Home Depot devotee because of the discounts they extend to veterans such as myself, but I had occasion this week to also learn to appreciate how they manage their data.


A couple of months ago, my wife wanted to change out the faucets in our kitchen because she didn’t fancy the ones already in place when we recently acquired the house.  So, we took another trip down to Home Depot and got a replacement.  However, when you buy something like a kitchen faucet you expect it to last awhile and we didn’t bother to retain the receipt, but after about a month one of the handles, which was plastic, broke off rendering the hot water inaccessible.


We dutifully had a plumber, because honestly I’ve never been able to make a water connection that didn’t leak.  He came in and took out the faucet and we took it back to Home Depot.  Even though I didn’t have a receipt, the service desk there was able to look up the purchase through my debit card number and we promptly received a replacement faucet set at no charge.  Not only is that good customer service, but a great example of how the proper use of analytics and tracking customer information can work to keep customers happy!  In today’s world, analytics and business intelligence can go a long way to developing brand loyalty.

–Warren B. Causey

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High-Tech Constantly Changing – Track It Before You Buy


Modern technology continues to accelerate rapidly and new products go on the market constantly.  Mainstay companies like Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Samsung and others turn out new versions of their products every year or less–both hardware and software.  Their hope is that you will upgrade just as frequently.


Constantly turning over equipment and software, however can be an expensive proposition and isn’t always necessary.   Newer isn’t necessarily always “better” if the older product still is getting the job done, whatever that job may be.


Private companies would be well-advised to use modern Business Intelligence/Advanced Analytics software (BI/AA) to evaluate their existing systems and equipment on a regular basis to determine if replacements really are needed.  Using BI/AA, they may save themselves a lot of money by being able to predict when replacing technology fits their needs, and not necessarily the desires of the manufacturers.  After all, technology is a major expense for businesses and they need to know that they are taking best advantage of it for themselves, rather than for the producers.  That’s just common sense coupled with advanced analytics.

–Warren B. Causey

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Public, Private, & Hybrid Clouds: Which Is Right For You?

Sandra Taylor opened her vintage clothing store because she loved clothes, but after the first store expanded into a second, and then a third, she realized what she loved even more was running a business.  The coordination of all the details, the creation of newer and better strategies.  Her life was linked to her work; when business was good, you could see it in her smile.

Even vintage clothing stores could use cloud analytics!

Even vintage clothing stores could use cloud analytics!

Because she was so invested in the success of her stores, she kept abreast on all the latest trends that might help her bottom line.  Lately, she’d been hearing more and more talk about cloud computing, and all the supposedly wonderful things it has to offer.  Naturally, Sandra was skeptical; you don’t turn one shop into a chain by jumping on every bandwagon that drives past.


The whole idea of a cloud seemed sketchy to her.  She was expected to just trustingly hand over all her computing data to a third party cloud provider?  What about privacy?  What about being self-sufficient?  What’s to stop her competition from viewing her customer data?  And what about hackers—she knows her system is secure because she protected it herself, but she doesn’t know who’s in charge of the cloud provider’s security.  And yet, her colleagues that had already switched to cloud spoke only about how great it was.


The potential advantages were too tempting to ignore.  One night, when she had some time to herself, she decided to do her own research.  She soon discovered that she did not know as much as she thought.  Cloud was a lot more flexible than she suspected, and there was more than one option available to her; private cloud, public cloud, and a hybrid combination of the two.


The public cloud was the most cost effective, with the greatest level of efficiency thanks to the shared resources.  However, of the three options, a public cloud offered the least in security.


A private cloud, on the other hand, was the safest.  Here, her system would be run on a secure private network, but would be cut off from the shared resources and the savings they bring.


Then there was the hybrid; hybrid cloud computing intrigued Sandra because it gave her the most control.  In a hybrid cloud, each aspect was selectively private or public, depending on which provided the maximum benefit for that particular need.  The only downside was that it was a little difficult to keep track of what was private and what was public; but Sandra never had a problem with minding the details.


So, with the help of a third party, Sandra orchestrated a hybrid cloud for her chain of clothing stores.  She found the benefits of switching to cloud were just as great as everyone said they were—the perfect thing to boost her business.  And when your life is your job like Sandra, what’s good for business is good for you!

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As The Great Recession Lingers, Retailers Need BI/AA To Cope

There is an excellent article on the “Great Recession” or “Small Depression” that still is affecting economies around the world today, including the U.S on Wikipedia, available here.  Despite what some politicians say, it is not over and governments worldwide, especially the U.S., are accumulating massive amounts of debt to ease some of the pain, debt that likely can never be repaid.


What do retailers do in such an economic environment?  One thing they need to do is use business intelligence and advanced analytics (BI/AA) methods to determine what is working and what isn’t in their particular industries or niches.  The overall picture remains relatively grim with many Americans; nearly half by some estimates; still without permanent, reliable and sufficient work.


In such an environment, retailers need to know their niche intimately, what products still are selling and which are hopeless and how to make the best of the situation as it is.  Denying the situation, as a lot of politicians do, won’t make payroll or expenses for a business, BI/AA is a tool that came along at the right time.  Retailers should use it, being brutally honest in the inputs, to get realistic answers for the future.  Otherwise, they’re just wandering around in the dark, or as it once was called, a prolonged “economic malaise”.  Those that use the right tools will survive.  Those that don’t will become part of history.

–Warren B. Causey

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