When Data Tests What You Thought You Knew

Written by Mike Marks on Thursday, 22 October 2015. Posted in Business Strategy, Webinars, Distribution

mdm webcastsIn a recent webinar with Modern Distribution Management Publisher Tom Gale, IRCG’s Mike Marks joined Julia Klein, CEO of specialty building materials distributor CH Briggs to talk about analytics in wholesale distribution.

Klein’s business has been on the analytics journey for years, and said the distributor’s team only started to call it “analytics” when the language of Big Data came into vogue. “Before that I think it was just how do we take all of this data and transform it into information,” she said. “And then all of this information and transform that into something that looked like wisdom.”

To Klein, distributors have access to a lot of data about customers, products and transactions. But it’s difficult to move away from what has previously been a data-free discussion “and to try to look just at the data and then apply judgment over it rather than relying first on intuition,” she said. “It’s a very hard change.”

And Marks agreed. Still, moving away from intuition brings with it its own challenges. In the webinar, he said that when a company “loves a customer” but then is shown data that maybe it shouldn’t love that customer, “that can create a lot of conflict.”

“This is why people really get stuck,” Marks told attendees. “You’ve got to build data into the process, and then apply your experience, intuition and judgment to the data rather than just rely on storytelling.”

The impact on culture is long-term. “If you do this as a one-shot project, and you throw a bunch of data out, the white blood cells in your organization will keep you from doing anything different. They’ll kill any change and innovation,” Marks said. “So you’ve got to build a management rhythm so that every month or every week this data is used in decision-making and resource allocation.”

Check out the webcast on-demand from MDM: Build an Analytics Culture

Not sure where to take your company next? Indian River Consulting Group can facilitate your next management strategy meeting, bringing decades of experience to the table to help you use data to decide your next move. Learn more here.

About the Author

Mike Marks

Mike Marks

Mike Marks co-founded IRCG in April 1987. He began his consulting practice after working in distribution management for more than 20 years. Over the years, his narrow focus in B2B channel-driven markets has created an extensive number of deep executive relationships within virtually every business vertical in construction, industrial, OEM, agricultural, and healthcare.

Mike has led project teams that improve market access by aligning resources to growth opportunities serving manufacturers, dealers, and distributors. Clients have ranged from small privately owned firms to many of the industry’s market share leaders. Ownership structures have included owner-operators, private equity, ESOPs, and publically traded firms. Mike is proud of the teams work and the confidence clients have shown with additional project work.

He has written extensively, and is frequently quoted on many industry issues. He has substantial board experience on both public and private distribution firms. His contributions to the field include serving multiple terms as a Research Fellow with the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, permanent faculty at Purdue University’s University of Industrial Distribution, eight years as Graduate Adjunct Faculty in the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A & M University, and rendering several precedent-setting expert opinions in contract disputes between manufacturers and distributors.

Prior to forming IRCG, Mike held the position of Executive Vice President at Lex Electronics, an $800 million vertically integrated electronics distributor in Stamford, CT. Mike’s path to management in his early career was through increasing responsibilities in sales and sales management. He also completed a tour of duty as a manufacturer’s representative.

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