Actionable insights for distribution

Genevieve MannelGenevieve Mannel is Head of BI Strategic Consulting at Saratoga and a part of the Mammoth BI team. This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Cover.

When designing business intelligence solutions for sales or distribution, or even any operational environment for that matter, there are a few critical points to consider.


Too often, we have operational staff rigorously managing a part of the business that has very little relation to the strategic goals of the business.

For example, if your strategic goal is to improve on your market share, but your operational and tactical staff are not tracking their performance on new and existing clients, or their lapses, or client movement book, they won’t be able to impact the strategic goal. Similarly, all companies want to improve their operating profit, but if their operational staff do not know which components make up operating profit, and how they can influence it, they won’t be able to consciously help meet that goal.


When you report on history, like a policy that has lapsed, there is nothing that you can do to reverse that lapse. What would help you prevent the lapse is if you have a forewarning that the policy would lapse indicating that premiums haven’t been received and it could lead to the policy lapsing. Your reporting should be preemptive.


Operational staff have very short turn-around times in their daily activities. Usually, their jobs require quick decision-making or resolutions to problems. In an environment like this you hardly have time to access 10 different systems with 5 different passwords to access 20 different reports. You need to embed their reporting within their daily operational systems, so that engaging with these insights are intuitively built into their daily operations.


I have spent most of my career in business intelligence (BI), working with sales staff to develop relevant reporting solutions. The most important thing that we need to keep in mind is business intelligence should be an enabler, not disabler. It should be simple to understand and intuitively easy to engage with and until your distribution is BI ready, you need to provide support which helps them to engage the business intelligence solutions, to the benefit of their decision-making.

A further point I would like to make is that all businesses need to have a culture of competing with themselves. Many companies keep a close watch on what their competitors are doing, and measure their success by their ability to perform better than these competitors. Why? While it is very important to understand your performance against peers and the rest of the market, it is equally important to compare your performance to yourself? Make sure you are performing better, week on week, month on month and year on year. That way, you know you are growing.

If you want to stay ahead of the pack and understand how to use your data as a strategic asset, don’t miss the Big Data and Analytics Conference called Mammoth. Mammoth BI takes place on 17 and 18 November 2014 at the CTICC, Cape Town. Book yout ticket here.

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