Staples is a Fortune 500 office and school supplier retailer. It operates in more than 25 countries, has 325 million annual visits in North America and does more than 200 million transactions each year.

he company was receiving a large volume of data from various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But there was no way of working out what was useful and what was noise. It needed to weed out the noise, and pinpoint the insights from the data more efficiently. Using business intelligence tools, the company was able to do this. It attributes the success of its business roll out to these factors, among others:

  • Strong leadership with a dedicated person assigned to the roll-out
  • Rolling out the project little by little, getting buy-in from small groups as they went along
  • Creating awareness and hype around the roll out through education, as well as fun things like T-Shirts.

The result has enabled marketing managers to assess the effectiveness of campaigns more quickly, and make better decisions about which products to stock in which branch.

Tesco is the largest retailer in the UK and has been one of the leaders in the use of business intelligence since the mid-1990s. Like many other supermarket stores, it introduced a loyalty program for its customers of vouchers that customers could redeem. The take up, however, was very small – around 3%.

Tesco soon saw that it could do connect the data gained from the loyalty cards to track customers’ purchases, the stores they visited and other behaviors. This allowed the company to target vouchers and coupons to specific customers and because there was a good match between the vouchers customers were getting and what they wanted, the redemption rate went up by 70%.

Another interesting use of analytics by the company has been to observe the relationship between weather patterns and sales, and use the data to forecast stock required by product for each store.

In a completely different sector, Compagnie Financière Tradition has felt the benefits of business intelligence. The company acts as an intermediary in trading derivatives. It relies on its brokers to bring in business. Yet, in 2010, when new CEO Umpelby took over, there was no hard data specifically about profit-and-loss per broker. After trying to access this information through cumbersome processes using Excel, the company realized that better technology was needed.

CEO Umpelby concedes that it wasn’t all plain sailing to get a system geared to IT timesheets and cost allocations that also generates reports for the board and executive management committee, but that it has brought benefits that would not have been possible using the old manual Excel spreadsheet system.

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