Business Intelligence Tool Provides Daily Metrics

By Ariella Brown  |  Posted 2016-06-01 Email Print this article Print
Business Intelligence Metrics

Moving from legacy systems to a new BI software solution allowed Henry Schein to shift from reports on past performance to a forward-looking sales dashboard.

Henry Schein's Dental Division generates nearly $4 billion in annual revenue. However, the large volumes of sales also involve large volumes of data from disparate sources that the sales team struggled to manage for years.

In the past, the company relied on legacy systems that were designed to keep sales teams informed on sales performance and trends. The problem was that these systems were providing only a general picture of sales based on monthly reports. That had to be accelerated to reveal nuggets of data the company could use to build its business in a timely manner.

The sales department wanted to come up with a way to access fresher information that could provide them with daily reports. It also wanted the ability to analyze what was selling—and to whom—so that it would get direction about where to focus its efforts.

The goal was to give salespeople, whether in the department or in the field, a comprehensive view of the customers and product sales so they could understand where they were gaining or losing business, and what they should be discussing with customers.

The main challenge was getting a solution that could analyze the data—including product data, inventory, shipping, sales and customer data—and provide the comparisons quickly enough for daily updates.

Annette Mahon-Rostad, director of business systems at Henry Schein, recalls that they approached the top names of business intelligence (BI) software vendors and offered a set of data for sales products area hierarchies to test their solutions. When they were going through the proof of concept, they found out that some products didn't scale. That was a major concern because some of the company's transactions are very large.

The project manager suggested they consider Sisense BI software, an agile tool capable of crunching millions of rows of data quickly. With this product, users can get a holistic view of their key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics without the addition of any extra software.

The solution, which updates data daily, includes built-in tools and filers to track particular products in relation to customers in order to clarify where the sales prospects are. Mahon-Rostad declares that a win-win.

Software Proves Its Value to the Sales Staff

In 2013, Henry Schein's management team began explaining about how they wanted the data to look for the teams. In a two-stage rollout, the product first went out to the in-house sales team and then to almost a thousand salespeople in the field.

The product caught on and proved its value to the sales staff. Today, more than 95 percent of employees use it consistently.

The first version that Henry Schein put into use was customized to meet its perceived needs at the time, based on best industry practices for visualization. With the second version, though, they are going to build in increased functionality rather than customizing it.

For example, the company now uses drop-down views instead of the pivot-to-pivot views it had before. This view, which represents a major enhancement, allows more ways to follow through various levels of sales categories and customers.

The solution does more than simply provide more efficient management of data and analytics. It also renders additional applications unnecessary.

As a result of implementing Sisense, Henry Schein was able to retire four different applications that sales users had been using previously. Management anticipates that in future, it will replace even more applications and become the primary tool for all communication with sale reps.

John McCloskey, the company's director of marketing analytics, explains that after rolling out the new software, the company gradually wound down some of its legacy systems. They were then able to direct the "regained bandwidth to focus on more predictive things." Instead of focusing on past performance set out by the monthly tools, employees now work off a dashboard that is forward-looking and provides daily updates.

Mahon-Rostad explains that the company's efforts are not just a matter of subscribing to a software service. Instead, this is a partnership: Sisense has been responsive to Henry Schein's needs, and Henry Schein's employees have learned how to make better use of the technology. Those dynamics influence changes that are planned for new versions of the software. Mahon-Rostad is "really excited about rolling out the new version."


Ariella Brown, a Baseline contributor, has covered a variety of technology topics, including 3D printing, analytics, big data, digital currency, cloud computing, green technology, marketing and social media.


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