Since deploying Qlik’s cloud-based data analytics solution, Takeuchi US executives are quickly accessing reports that help them shape sales strategies, says Business Technology Director Susan Dean.

Nov 30 2022
Data Analytics

How the Cloud Is Transforming Data Analytics

With the right tools, organizations can analyze vast quantities of information in real time at scale.

When it comes to data, Takeuchi US executives are like the construction equipment they make and sell. They dig deep, not into the ground at construction sites but into sales and other data, seeking insights to bolster their operations. 

Takeuchi US uses Qlik data analytics to automate its effort in the cloud.

“It’s allowed us to bring all the data together and see insights we couldn’t otherwise see or correlate,” Business Technology Director Susan Dean says. “We can look at monthly data and see how we rate against our competitors by county. We can share that information with our dealers, so they know penetration by county and where they have work to do.”

Employees used to manually pull data from different sources and produce reports using Excel. Since Dean joined the company in 2019 and switched to Qlik, they have been able to access dashboards that provide real-time insights on the business.

Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud-based analytics tools to integrate disparate data and perform real-time analysis to help identify trends, draw conclusions and make forecasts, empowering faster, better-informed decision-making.

One big benefit of the cloud for analytics is accelerated time to market, says Forrester Research Analyst Naveen Chhabra.

“The traditional way is to buy hardware and software, cobble them together, and then it might months before you see results,” Chhabra says. “With the cloud, firms are experiencing must faster results. You push your data up into a cloud analytics platform and see results in a few hours or a few days.”

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How the Right Tools Are Helping Increase Sales

Time to market is why Dean adopted Qlik. When she joined Takeuchi US, the company’s president directed her to help the organization become more data-driven. 

At the time, Dean didn’t have the staff to integrate all the disparate data into a data warehouse. But Qlik was so intuitive and easy to use that she was able to produce the first set of reports in two weeks.

“It gave us a foundation to get it up and running and get data into people’s hands quickly,” she says.

Since then, Dean and her team have built an on-premises data warehouse using Microsoft SQL Server databases. Initially, the 170-employee company, based in Pendergrass, Ga., used the on-premises version of Qlik, but executives wanted to make data available to Takeuchi’s dealers, so the IT staff migrated to the cloud by adopting Qlik’s Software as a Service offering.

Qlik integrates in-house and third-party data on overall construction equipment sales in every county. Qlik analyzes the numbers and produces reports and visualizations. Executives and the sales team use the dashboards to gain insights on the overall business and seek opportunities for growth based on geographic data and sales. 

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For example, executives can find regions that may need more dealers, while the sales team can use the information to create sales strategies, Dean says. The company’s 100-plus dealers can now log in to a cloud portal to gain a 360-degree view of their business with Takeuchi, from orders and invoices to detailed sales data in their region, including on how they are faring against the competition.

“The cool thing is the dealers have the same information we do. Our sales staff can say, ‘Look at your dashboard. Did you see that? You need to focus on this,’ or, ‘Here are some opportunities that you could pursue,’” she says. “The conversations are better. They can show in black and white exactly what it looks like, because dealers can follow along on their dashboards.”

Overall, data analytics has made the entire staff more productive, Dean says.

The sales team used to spend most Fridays putting data together and building sales reports manually to prepare for the next week’s meetings with dealers. Now, it’s done automatically through Qlik. 

“It took the busywork out,” she says. “The data gets updated overnight, and you can see the reports the next morning.”

Susan Dean
It took the busywork out. The data gets updated overnight, and you can see the reports the next morning.”

Susan Dean Business Technology Director, Takeuchi US

Using Data Analytics to Empower Customers

Echo Global Logistics, a transportation management services company that connects shippers with carriers to haul their freight, relies on data analytics to run its business.

“With data and analytics, we can provide the right support to our salespeople to enable them to make good decisions,” says CIO Zach Jecklin.

The Chicago-based company has built an analytics platform in the cloud using Amazon Web Services and Tableau visualization and reporting software.

Five years ago, Echo built algorithms to help sales staff match shippers with carriers. The algorithms made recommendations based on supply and demand, shippers’ needs and price points, and the carriers’ capacities. 

Once the algorithms proved useful and accurate, Jecklin added more automation to the sales process. He and his team incorporated the models into Echo’s proprietary transportation software to provide quotes and capacity directly to its customer base of 35,000 shippers and 50,000 carriers, allowing them to book deliveries online.  

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The sales team is still heavily involved. For example, the models can recommend carriers for certain shipping jobs. When a carrier logs in to Echo’s portal, EchoDrive, via the web or mobile app and sees an open freight job for $1,400, the carrier can immediately take it. But if it would prefer to haul the freight for $1,500, it can place an electronic bid and an Echo sales representative will negotiate with the carrier.

“The sales rep makes the decision whether to accept that price, and decision support will help tell if it’s a good price or not,” Jecklin says.

Tableau produces visualizations of how the algorithms are performing and notes whether they need to be tweaked if prices are being underestimated for certain parts of the country, he says.

Echo executives also use Tableau to gain insight on finances, drive investment decisions and analyze employee productivity. For example, if a shipper requires Echo’s staff to do a lot of manual work, Tableau can help determine whether Echo needs to adjust what it charges that shipper to be profitable.

This summer, the technology staff migrated from an on-premises version to Tableau Cloud. The transition has been seamless and will provide value since software upgrades are now automatic, Jecklin says.

“Our power users will get a ton of value from that because they can create better reporting,” he says.

Implementing the Power of AI to Gain New Insights

Global Fishing Watch, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance, including the reduction of harmful fishing, uses satellite data to track the movement of more than 60,000 fishing vessels worldwide and makes the data available through Google Cloud.

The organization uses AI-powered analytics to help governments, nonprofits and researchers monitor activity taking place on the ocean and identify suspicious behavior, which can indicate illegal fishing or even forced labor in fishing vessels, says Chief Innovation Officer Paul Woods.

The organization can track the vessels because they continually broadcast their locations using the automatic identification system, an automatic tracking system that uses transceivers on ships. Global Fishing Watch has built machine learning models that analyze a vessel’s movement, allowing it to infer what type of fishing gear it is using and the fish it is targeting, then conclude whether the vessel is allowed to fish in the area.

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The organization stores the vessel location data using tools within Google Cloud Platform to warehouse and analyze data. Researchers can also run their own queries.

“The tracking data is freely available, but there’s just so much of it,” Woods says. “You can’t get insight just by looking at it, so having the analytics tools that can handle data at scale produces useful insights.”

Photography by Ben Rollins

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