Written by Bert Meerman, BI expert at Schouw Informatisering
We've identified that many companies are struggling with the efficient availability of data and, therefore, making important data-driven decisions for the company. This situation is evident from our IT Food Forecast research, in which over one third of the respondents indicated that they can not make the right decision based on the current information provision. A further 1/3 offers a very neutral rating of 7 on the review scale. Reliable management reporting provides to be especially challengeful. Not so much in terms of the quality of those reports, but especially in the way they are produced. This results in loss of efficiency, but also increases the margin of error. And that is a missed opportunity. Especially because more than 80% of the respondents find data in their organization very important to everything decisive.
For decades, there have been tools and experts to help companies deal with their data, but in the food industry we see that there is still a lot of catching up to be done here. But why is the food industry lagging behind in the technological progress surrounding data analysis? That question is not so easy to answer. One of the reasons why this is so difficult is the enormous difference in size and complexity of companies within this industry. Sometimes we talk about a multinational that trades fruit all over the world and has millions of sales, the other time it is a local bakery with 10 employees.
Given the diversity of companies, the way in which people want to use data is very diverse very diverse. And that is exactly where the challenge lies in the upcoming years. Previously, a software supplier provided one and the same standard solution that would be suitable for all companies. The demand is there for a a tailor-made solution, based on existing technologies, that fits both the content and the financial situation of food organization.
Is a large and complex data warehouse, for example, suitable for every organization? The technologies with which data warehouses are built also develop and require more and more hardware and software. Is using the cloud than the answer? So that you no longer have direct hardware and software costs? But then the question arises whether this can be paid for smaller companies. The cloud can be an efficient solution and contribute. nevertheless, in practice this does not mean that is it also the cheapest solution.
One of the reasons why the food industry is still lagging behind on data analysis is that the margins are extremely small. Relative to revenues, little is invested in IT, according to the IT Food Forecast survey. But if you consider results, investments numbers plummet. Qua investment, priorities are still based on supporting the primary business processes. And unfortunately, analyzing data is not (yet) part of it. On the other hand, these small margins should be the trigger to gain more insights into business processes in order to improve these results.
Should we then advise a large and complex data warehouse to small businesses? Or do we need to look more closely at tools that the large software giants (e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP) are offering more and more and are using them as optimally as possible? Tools that are less costly for organizations, but that match their need to quickly and accurately access their data.
But what tools are they? Organizations are flooded with software terms and reporting tools, often not knowing what they actually do. This, of course, raises questions: Is it justified to use tools that are often presented as the 'new self-service' or even 'revolutionary' BI? What are the consequences if an organization creates small islands of data? Because the tool that was purchased just works like that? What can you reuse if you want to purchase a new reporting tool? And do not forget the implementation costs. Does everything have to be built from scratch? Or can something be delivered on turnkey (easy to install and use immediately)?
The most important thing is that BI suppliers enter into discussions with your organization, to make all those questions negotiable. And to make clear what the effects of a particular choice are. Food companies do not want to invest too much in data analysis. Low-cost solutions may be a solution, but it is also important to offer different alternatives that may cost a little more, but that better meet the needs and future vision of food companies. Data analyzes are important, especially to improve those margins.
In short, it is important that we, together with your food organization, try to determine where your company stands and where it wants to go. We are happy to explain what is possible with all new technologies today. In addition, we also let your organization think for itself, so that together we can achieve the best possible result.
Are you working in a food company and do you find it difficult to solve data issues as desired? Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or 076-504 25 20. Our data specialists can help you further.