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Inside Retail & Board International

Using decision-making tools to get past gut feel

Using differentiated, siloed and often incompatible tools to plan and analyse with your business data can easily end with making the wrong call. But Board can help you bring it all together.

If the last year has taught the retail industry one lesson, it’s that it cannot continue to rely on outdated models and a ‘business as usual’ approach. 

While some businesses collapsed during the ensuing economic shock, the retailers that remain are left to face a disrupted industry and forever-changed consumer expectations, and, in some cases, it’s going to take a full-scale business transformation to get on top of where they now need to be.

And using differentiated, siloed and often incompatible tools to get there is going to be difficult. 

“We’re continuing to realise this will be the new normal,” says David Hatt, Regional Sales Manager for decision-making platform vendor Board International.

If you’ve been using a reporting system to track just your finances for the last six to 12 months, with other systems, like dashboards, alerts, and reports, managing other parts of the business, this can lead to uncoordinated and sub-optimal reactions and decisions if all of your data is not being looked at holistically.

What this means, Hatt argues, is that businesses need to take a more holistic view in making strategic decisions about where a business is headed. 

“It’s very seldom you can make any consequential decision on your own without having some other impact on the organisation,” Hatt says.

“Are the resources there? Can the stock get to the stores? Do we have the right product in the right place? These sorts of things need to be factored into all plans. And if those sorts of decisions are being made in different tools that don’t communicate, you’re likely to miss something.”

How retailers are using Board’s decision-making platform

What Board specialises in, however, is bringing these disparate data points from across a businesses operation and feeding it into its decision-making platform – which unifies business intelligence, planning, and predictive analytics capabilities – to give a better overview of how each choice impacts the business as a whole, and how potential scenarios could play out. 

In doing so, Board has delivered a 30 per cent reduction in operating costs at Italian grocery chain Conad Nord Ovest, helped fashion retailer Desigual take control of its sales performance and analyse its commercial channels, and tightened H&M’s global workforce planning operations, providing a holistic, real-time view of over 70 countries, 5,000 points of sale and 126,000 employees.

“Board enabled us to integrate all the information from different sources into a single environment, guaranteeing us the immediate multidimensional analysis of information and making reporting simple and flexible,” says Conad Nord Ovest’s Management Control Director Franco Iazeolla.

The platform also helped Marks & Spencer overhaul its digital finances, automate its reporting and planning processes, and increased the efficiency of its working capital, cost initiative tracking and monthly risks and opportunities. 

“Even a 0.1 per cent improvement in process effectiveness with our scale can deliver benefits measured in millions of pounds,” Marks & Spencer Head of Finance Corporate Information Strategy Davide Breda said.

“The business used to forecast on a much higher level as manual tools couldn’t deliver the granularity needed, but with Board this is changing completely.”

Mastering the new normal

The pace of change has accelerated and is probably going to continue to accelerate, so reaction times are critical, according to Hatt. 

“[And] in this situation with Covid, we’re seeing little mini closures and massive disruptions in supply chain and customer channels,” Hatt said. 

“It’s getting more and more obvious that we’re not going back to anything like normal for years at best. By that time we’re going to find that the innovators and those that embrace the change will be so far ahead the others may never catch up.”

And, as we’re already seeing, any business relying on the traditional processes of gut feel, and long-winded planning cycles, is likely to be left behind.

Learn more about how Board is helping leading retail organisations by getting in touch today.