Your data — the bliss of having all the key numbers in one place

If you are the gatekeeper of market data in an FMCG business, chances are you will be watchful of your workload over the next few months. The dreaded declaration that next year’s planning cycle is kicking off is looming large. You know that there are valuable insights within the data that you manage but you also know that you are the main keeper of this hidden wisdom, putting you under a great deal of pressure.

What if the planning cycle was not something to worry about? Imagine if you were not trying to access multiple applications from various data providers. Imagine if you were not risking overlooking key insights because of fragmented data. Imagine your colleagues had direct access to the key numbers themselves and were not relying on you to supply them. This solution is not as unattainable as you might think.

In response to our customers facing these kinds of obstacles, we developed a tool called the Delphi Panopticon. The word Panopticon (Greek origin) means ‘all seeing’. In this context Panopticon refers to a full 360 view of your data. From a single-screen dashboard you can access 90% of the data that you need for market, channel, brand and customer performances. All your numbers in one place…bliss! No multiple applications. No clunky logins. No limiting coding. It is the very definition of democratising data. Any one of your colleagues can access the same set of numbers in the same single view as you. And the icing on the cake — you can get the Delphi Panopticon in a relatively short space of time and without investing in any new software.

If you would like to benefit from the solution outlined in this article, please get in touch to discuss how the Delphi Panopticon could deliver better results for your business.

Exposing the Myths – why FMCG Data is much simpler than you think

Each time I read an article about data, I am reminded of ‘Good to Great’ (by Jim Collins). The book exposes the many myths often credited with creating large-scale corporate change. For me two of these myths in particular always underpin the dialogue about data. The first is The Myth of Fear-Driven Change — the idea that a fear of being left behind, the fear of seeing others win or the fear of failure would propel a business to change. Or The Myth of Technology-Driven Change — the idea that technology itself will deliver the big breakthrough the business is looking for. All the buzz about big data, prescriptive analytics, math men and modelling uses these myths to sell complex data solutions.

The good news is that data in FMCG is much simpler than this. If you are looking to use data to step-change your business, you need a back-to-basics approach. For FMCG Sales and Marketing Analytics, there is a wealth of data available that can yield rich insight. There are three key sources of FMCG data: internal sales, field sales and retailer data. The data should be used to explore market size and trends, channel/retailer performance and brand dynamics (yours and competitors’). The insights generated from analysing the data will support two key activities: business planning and customer engagement. To get value from data and support these key activities, the business must be doing analysis as well as reporting. Reporting is the process of organising and summarising data in an easily-read format to communicate important information. Analysis is an interactive process of the analyst transforming the information in these reports into insight.

Now you know the scope of the task, how do you set your business up to succeed? According to Collins (‘Good to Great’) it starts by getting the right people for the job. He uses the analogy of getting the right people on the bus, advocating that this should happen before setting a new direction. The right people consistently put ‘a shoulder to the wheel’, contributing a series of small steps which will gain momentum over time. This ‘Flywheel Effect’, according to Collins, is how businesses progress (move from good to great).

So how do you identify the right people to design and analyse reports in FMCG? At the risk of stating the obvious, they should like working with data and have a combination of both technical and commercial skills, with the emphasis on the latter. Surprisingly, many of those working with data in FMCG can be described as ‘accidental analysts’, having inherited the data brief by moving from another position in the business.  Another shortcoming of the FMCG model has been to isolate the data brief in one function (usually category management). This does not recognise the importance of having data skills available across multiple functions e.g. national accounts, field sales and marketing as well as category. It is limiting model and one which sells some of the data-rich areas in the business short.

To summarise, if you want to move your data journey forward, ignore the data myths that are fear-based and push technology solutions as the answer. Remember that FMCG data is simple and make sure you take the following steps:

  1. Decide how you want data to support better business planning and customer engagement.
  2. Ensure data skills are available across multiple functions.
  3. Confirm that the business is doing analysis as well as reporting.

Feeling the pain of data?

We all subscribe to the belief that leveraging insights from our data will bring us better business results. However the journey to insight is not without its challenges. If you are finding data frustrating, you can be sure that you are not alone. While much is written about the benefits of working with data, there are a lot fewer articles identifying the issues that commonly crop up. In an effort to address this, we have summed up the data issues most frequently experienced by our customers..


  • I do not trust the data
  • I am not confident I understand what the data is telling me
  • I cannot get what I need from data when I need it
  • I cannot get what I need from spreadsheets
  • I do not have time to sit through scores of slides to find out what I need to know
  • I cannot manage multiple sources of data effectively

It is not information overload, it’s filter failure

Filter FailureAs an Analyst one of your key challenges is to act as a filter for your organisation. You are tasked with sifting through mountains of data and communicating insights in a way which supports better decision making. Computers cannot make sense of data, only people can. More precisely only people with the necessary data analysis skills can. Too much emphasis is put on the role of technology and not enough on the human brain. Organisations that are starved of knowledge need to focus on why Analysts are not filtering the data load effectively. Is it a skills or a resource challenge?

Why working visually with data is the future

EyesAre you tired of looking at rows and columns of numbers and trying to work out what they are telling you? Tabular formats can work well for looking up one or two individual facts but it can be hard to see the whole picture. This is why exploring data visually has really taken off. The human brain can process a picture much faster than a table of numbers. Interactive visuals make patterns, trends, and exceptions in numbers more visible and understandable. We are not talking about static charts here. Visual Analytics is about an interactive conversation with the data. You get a better understanding of what is happening and you get it faster than you would with tabular data. Not convinced? Take a look at these benefits of data visualisation:

  • Faster, easier data discovery – work with databases and spreadsheets of any size
  • Perfect data blending – combine multiple data sources in one view
  • Ease of use – drag-and-drop to create rich visualisations
  • Interactive reporting dashboards – understand relationships between data regardless of where it lives

When software becomes part of the problem

HourglassIn FMCG there is plenty of data but paradoxically a lack of meaningful insight. This is because Analysts are caught up in a cycle of data wrangling. Communicating analytical findings should be your priority however you probably find yourself wasting too much time cleansing data, trouble shooting excel calculations, mashing up spreadsheets or manually re-sizing charts. Automating processes or acquiring new tools can make a big difference. Take a step back and look at how you are working with data. According to Tableau Software ‘organisations are losing patience with multiple logins and clunky processes to move and manage data. Rapid integration leveraging simple interfaces is going to become the standard’.

5 ways you can work better with data

Five WaysIt is impossible to keep up with the speed at which data grows in your organisation, however you can continuously improve how you work with data. Here are 5 of the key ways:

  1. Transfer the heavy lifting of data processing to scalable technologies – this frees you up to focus on what the data is telling you
  2. Work more visually with data – it is more efficient and helps you tell your story better
  3. Bring as much of your data into a standardised format as you can – accessing multiple sources through different software/portals creates barriers
  4. Give your colleagues direct access to some of the key numbers – it will reduce demands on your time
  5. Collaborate – more Analysts will lead to better debate and develop a richer story more quickly

Having the confidence to make data driven decisions

ConfidenceNot everyone speaks data and that’s OK. If data skills are not your strength make sure you have some good Analysts on your team to help you see and understand data quicker. However avoid the trap of asking for more and more detail and delaying making a decision. Data can only take you so far and some of them have an expiry date. If you are tasked with developing a data driven culture in your organisation, surround yourself with good Analysts. Have the confidence to go where the data takes you. Otherwise why would you review data in the first place?

Fluid data conversations replace static dashboards

ConversationIn their 2015 Business Intelligence trends Tableau Software reported that ‘we are starting to see an age when data is interactive enough that it can become the backbone of a conversation’. At Delphi Analytics we had noticed this dynamic as organisations are beginning to tire of big presentations and reject them in favour of ‘live interactive analytics’ sessions. As analytical tools have become faster and more flexible it is possible to have a dynamic conversation about business issues with the data in the room. Charts become the beginning rather than the end of the conversation.

Field Data to Field Intelligence

Target Your Customers The need to sell as much as possible has always been the single most important worry keeping Sales Leaders awake at night. However their concerns do not end there. There is a rising demand for increased management visibility of salesforce and channel performance. Companies know that if front line sales people hit targets more consistently, this offers the best opportunity to grow revenue and market share. Sales Managers must capitalise on every available competitive edge, and deliver increased visibility on their progress to management teams.


How does Field Data become intelligence?

There is a rich abundance of Field Data available, to help you performance manage your people and measure your Company’s progress. The data comes from two sources;

  • Sales Data – sales volumes, call coverage, call frequency, distribution
  • Audit Data – availability, NPD compliance, selling space, promotion execution

Whether you have your own salesforce or are using a third party, you should have full visibility of your Field performance and this must happen in a timely fashion. Otherwise you are not getting the best return on your investment. This is your data and you should have access to it in any format you need – to pivot, trend, visualise and report as you like. You should be able to view it by region, channel, customer or sales rep, and at the most granular product level. And finally your data should be available to you at the push of a button.

Your Field Data is your raw material for insight, and insight is what will help you do the job better. Sales Managers that demand full & flexible access to their data will set themselves apart, helping their companies emerge from the economic downturn faster than the competition.

If you would like any help optimising your Field Sales Data, please contact Delphi Analytics.