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Predictive Analytics Is the Key to Business Growth

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/03/2016 Marietta Davis
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As businesses look for new and better ways of connecting with their customers, having the right data at the right time is essential to better understanding our customers' preferences and pain points -- and how to help solve them. Companies looking to translate that information into improved sales and productivity are increasingly relying on the secret weapon that will lead to increased business growth -- predictive analytics.
In my experience, most companies take a reactive approach to engaging with their customers or running their operations. There's nothing wrong with learning from your past mistakes (or successes). But if you're always looking back, how can you move forward? Dramatic advances made in predictive analytics enable companies to better anticipate and drive change, being more proactive in engaging with their customers.
Turning insights into action
Predictive analytics builds on one of the most transformative technology trends in recent years - the Internet of Thing, enabling organizations to smartly connect their devices and assets to create new business value. By using technology to identify trends, predict problems and anticipate customer needs, IoT technology enables businesses to make more sense and better use of the massive amounts of data they go through every day -- everything from how much power your business uses to how many times a customer paid with cash versus credit. Predictive analytics wrangles all that data into insights you can understand, and actions you can implement to streamline processes and better serve your customers. Let's take a moment to look at a company that has successfully implemented a solution: JJ Food Service.
Improving efficiency with enterprise resource planning
JJ Food Service is a food distribution company based in the United Kingdom. They serve thousands of customers throughout the U.K., including restaurants, grocers, schools and football clubs. The company accepts orders until 9 p.m. nightly. Workers then have until 5 a.m. the next day to process orders and load up the trucks for delivery. There's no room for downtime, or errors.
The company built an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution in 2004. Today, they use that same solution to manage every aspect of the business, from inventory management to HR. This comprehensive view into the business has been key to JJ Food Service's success. For example, in 2012, one of the company's products experienced a significant drop in sales. Using predictive analytics, JJ Food Service responded proactively with a special discount on the product. To qualify for the reduced price, customers had to place orders online with a credit card. Shifting customers to an online order reduced the company's overhead costs, which in turn made up for the lower price. The result: the company recaptured some lost customers and sales.
You don't have to go all-in to see benefits. With today's out-of-the-box cloud-based business systems, you can begin to see actionable insights immediately. Just imagine what your company could do with a predictive analytics setup. There are many ERP, data and IoT services available on the market today, with new options coming soon. For example, Microsoft has just released the next version of Dynamics AX which taps into the predictive capabilities of Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. With the right predictive analytics software, your organization can move from reactive to proactive in no time flat. What are your goals for predictive analytics in your business? I'd love to hear more about how you leverage data to empower your customers and your business.

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