Project No 2: Business Analytics

By Connie Winkler  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

In 2005, more companies are requiring their executives to make decisions based on savvy use of business analytics software.

Project No 2

Project Summary
Technology: Software that analyzes business data to forecast trends and identify patterns
Goals: Anticipate changes in demand; adjust pricing to market dynamics; deliver more detailed business metrics to customers
Average planned spending in 2005: $11.1 million

Gut calls don't cut it. In 2005, more companies are requiring their executives to make decisions based on savvy use of business analytics software.

Analytics software harnesses vast stores of data, deciphering patterns that might not be evident to the naked eye and making predictions about trends. The technology can help companies make smarter decisions, whether they're juggling prices in response to the fluctuating cost of crude oil, delivering worldwide views of staffing levels or tailoring products to meet shifting consumer tastes.

While many organizations are just starting to adopt analytics software, experienced users are enthusiastic about expanding their use of such tools to better anticipate changes in their marketplaces.

Copley Press is using analytics to target customers more efficiently. The privately held company, which publishes 20 daily and weekly newspapers, in the last year saved $1 million in distribution costs by more quickly identifying—and cutting off—subscribers who had signed up but then didn't pay. "We were spending a large sum chasing subscribers and getting them for a short term," says David M. Bessen, director of Copley's information services group in La Jolla, Calif.

Besides circulation, Copley's newspapers use analytics software to look at advertising patterns, advertiser profiles and marketing trends. "We're very interested in subscriber loyalty and whether our core is growing or shrinking," Bessen says. "What that core looks like in terms of demographics profile is critical for us—and our advertisers are very interested."

Copley this year plans to extend its business analytics applications from corporate headquarters in La Jolla to its 20 regional newspapers, many in the Midwest. "There's a real team effort needed to teach people about what analytical tools are available," Bessen says. "Once we have a nibble, then the [newspaper's] business side takes over on what's needed in their particular market."


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