Business Intelligence: Use as Directed
There is hope for Business Intelligence (BI) in Industrial Sales and Marketing. Not only for our industrial customers, but for ourselves.
As companies selling to industrial clients, we are eager to add more value and help our customers achieve operational excellence. However, as purveyors of business intelligence (BI) solutions, we don’t necessarily follow our own “prescription” when it comes to sales and marketing. That is, we sell the BI “vitamins”, but we don’t take them daily.
This is an observation rather than a critique. We aren’t without hope. Sales organizations face extreme pressure to make the next period numbers, but don’t always have the head space to stand back, and analyze. Marketers may have access to terabytes of data, but face challenges when turning that information into insight.
There is plenty of reason for hope. Gartner reports that data and analytics has become strategic throughout the organization. In the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytic Platforms, Published 16 February 2017, they further identify companies such as Qlik as Magic Quadrant Leaders. These solutions are complete and business-user ready, with little IT involvement required after the initial data connections are made. In our experience the catches are, good data is needed to derive valuable insight, and you need to ask the right questions.
Companies selling B2B to industrial markets may benefit from having a working knowledge of their customers’ operations. Operational knowledge requires knowing customer facilities, where they are, what they do, and what drives them.
If your business benefits from operational knowledge, consider this: you may benefit from visualizing customer operations in off-the-shelf BI tools, for example, you sell to wastewater utilities, petroleum refineries, or coal mines. Have you ever viewed these locations on a map? Where are they in relation to your sales team? Which are impacted by different combinations of regulatory programs?
Visualization can result in stunning insight. If you haven’t yet, look at your own target markets on a map. Use BI. Do what you are encouraging customers to do and “use as prescribed”.