Insights Achieved with the Right Analytics Tools
About five years ago, Genuine Parts deployed Qlik Sense, an analytics solution Robertson credits for its ability to explore disparate data sources, including unstructured data.
Today, Genuine Parts maintains about 7,400 Qlik Sense licenses that support its Atlanta headquarters, sales and operations staffs, and more than 50 distribution centers, among other users. It draws from sales, marketing, inventory, supply chain and other systems, and recently, Robertson says, the company even extended Qlik’s data analytics capabilities to independent NAPA Auto Parts store owners and suppliers.
“Traditionally, stores would request parts from their distribution centers,” Robertson says. “Now we can see if we need to send out more parts from a distribution center or if there is a store nearby that has excess parts it can send over more quickly. We’re making better decisions faster.”
When the coronavirus pandemic began, the company’s analytics team rapidly launched new reporting applications in Qlik that helped address the challenges of doing business safely. For example, the company was upgrading store technology and couldn’t send technicians everywhere it needed to. So, the analytics team created a Qlik report showing which stores were running which point-of-sale systems, in order to safely plan and prioritize upgrades.
“They also built one for optimizing labor in stores,” Robertson says. “They wanted to track hours recorded by delivery drivers vs. hours en route, to make informed decisions on staffing models to reduce expenses while maintaining service levels.”
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Data That's Accessible to Everyone
The cloud is making it easier for organizations to build or advance their data analytics capabilities. As a result, more are empowering frontline employees to develop their own analytics reports. “Organizations realize they have to give their users freedom to use the tools that help them do their jobs most efficiently,” Gopal says.
For many organizations seeking to empower staff, however, self-service can’t be the main goal.
“I prefer to call it ‘governed self-service’ rather than just ‘self-service,’” says Laura Ashworth, senior solutions architect at Raymond James, an investment bank and financial services firm. Raymond James adopted Qlik software in 2013 and established a center of excellence within the company to maximize the business impact of its data analytics program.
“We're putting in a governance layer to ensure one person isn’t writing a query one way, and then I'm bringing in the same data but writing the query a different way,” Ashworth says. The idea is to stop employees from arriving at two different results and sending conflicting information to executives.
The effort has included thoroughly cataloging data as it’s collected in Raymond James’s data warehouse for analysis by Qlik users to ensure it’s defined the same way across the business. “You have to be very conscious of tagging data correctly so when you describe a piece of information in one place, you’re describing it the same way everywhere,” she says.
Despite years of experience with data analytics, Ashworth says Raymond James is at the beginning of its journey to get data into more hands. Part of the challenge is resistance to change. Many executives are comfortable with familiar reports. Companies say it’s important to adopt a solution that can support multiple forms of analytics, from static reports to executive dashboards and governed self-service.
“Over time, you have to train users to be data literate,” says Ashworth.