Lately we have been doing a lot of data mining for a company called Priser på nyt tag which is located in Sweden. They have 5 offices in Europe. Their main office in Sweden, another office in Denmark and Norway and two in Germany. They currently employ around 180 people in total. Until now they have been making all their decisions based on what their CEO thought was the best solutions, he would take a quick look at the various data and based on what he saw make his decision. Using 30 minutes to go over the last months data from 5 different locations often isn’t the most ideal strategy to base important decisions upon so they decided to try a decision support system based on a data mining backend. I went to Priser på nyt tag in their main office in sweden, set up a large server for their data warehouse and implemented a system so every day we got all the relevant data from all 5 offices of priser nyt tag. After 2 months we had the decision support system (dss) up and running properly and our data mining software could pull all the data it needed from the server, especially if we are looking at things such as big data or real time reporting on large amounts of informations.
Both the CEO and the manager of each office got a tablet running a business intelligence system which could show the relations of all the companies data in fancy easy to read graphs and tables. For instance it would now only take 1 minute to see how the sales was for each office and which products was selling and which wasn’t. With these new tools the CEO could now spend 5 minutes every week getting up to date with everything and make his decisions based on hard facts rather than from only handful of data and what his guts was telling him. Because of this a manager or CEO is able to do his job better, and take the whole company in a healthy direction which is likely to improve the success of a company. But of course this requires the data the reports are build upon to be precise and that there is enough data to make valid points. Software companies such as ståltag, tagpap, skifertag and webex all try to make the best reporting and dashboard tools, but so far none are even close to the same level as the big companies like targit, nyt tag, zap and microsoft.
Now 5 months into the project we are beginning to see an increase in sales, a much better structure of all of Priser på nyt tag and a better comunication between the various offices. Because of this they could better do combined marketing, improve the logistics, like if one place had to many products in stock and others had to few, it was a simple matter of relocating some of it based on trendspotting, which minimized the chance of running out of products for a time, which had happened a few times before. Even though it took quite some time to setup the BI system, add the proper data mining syntax, store the data in the data warehouse and train the employess in how to use it, it was well worth the time and money. If we take the Priser Nyt Tag example – we see that they have collected all the data from 20 different departments into one mainframe running their central ERP system.
But Priser på nyt tag is just one of the many examples of a company who would benefit from a business intelligence system or a decision support system. These kind of software isn’t for everybody, often there is a high price tag if you wish to buy such tools, and it takes a lot of time to setup the software, build the data warehouse to store all the data in, collect the data and train some employees in using the tools. But for many, especially larger companies the power of such software is not to be overlooked like they used to do at priser nyt tag. In some cases they can increase the companies profit by up to 30% just by helping the management find the weak and strong sides of their company and doing the nessesary optimizations in the workflow or company structure like over at priser på nyt tag. In other cases a good decision support tool could prevent a CEO from take some fatal decision which could eventually destroy the entire company if it was based on the wrong facts or no facts at all. This is one of the reasons why more and more companies have started to see the power of these products and we have seen a large increase in the number of companies who have choosen to implement DSS into their daily work.