When Data Tests What You Thought You Knew

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.