Oct 27, 2005 (03:10 PM EDT)
Salient Zeroes In on Price and Margin for Performance
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Managers had difficulty controlling variability in the sales process; they had to manage hundreds of products with overlapping promotional calendars while satisfying thousands of customers in different markets and channels. It was hard to tell how customers would price and present these promotions, how the competition would react and how consumers would respond. In this milieu, profits were unpredictable. Managers wanted a tool to help them understand how cycle-to-cycle changes in products, promotions and price points affected the key business indicators of volume growth, revenue and margin.
For these reasons the bottlers turned to Salient, which provided its flagship product, Margin Minder, to their sales and marketing teams, collecting hundreds of thousands of individual transactions and integrating the data on the back end. The system facilitated comparisons of customers, products, sales representatives, regions, key accounts, brands, packages and other details. It also allowed users to examine sales, revenue and margin performance over any period of time and identify customer buying patterns. The result was insight that helped the bottlers optimize their trade spend.
Today the business problems and intelligence needs that were unique to bottlers 20 years ago have become common in many industries. Changing global markets, volatility of demand and incessant margin pressures are forcing businesses to make better decisions within the context of overall business performance. They are less interested in reporting data than in gathering all the facts, measures and relationships at the point where somebody is transacting business; that’s the core of the decision-making process.
To meet this growing demand, Salient has expanded its technology, product line and reach. Unlike a traditional BI approach that uses online analytical processing, the Salient platform does not pre-summarize or pre-calculate anything. Rather, it enables free association, so each user can assemble the facts that fit the situation at hand without having to think about a hierarchy. Yet the solutions retain an enterprise context and can generate a profit and loss (P&L) view within which users can drill down quickly to the person, place and day of a transaction.
Salient solutions are deployed in industries such as consumer packaged goods, direct store delivery, retail and field services and now in government as well. Six offerings in addition to Margin Minder fill out the product line: Margin Minder Max, Sales Minder, Category Minder, Service Minder Max, Store Minder Max and the latest, Muni-Minder, which provides interrogative, graphical access to government program data. Muni-Minder’s initial component enables local Medicaid administrators to research and act on questionable activity or suspected misuse.
Ventana Research believes that Salient’s approach to operational business intelligence can contribute to performance management. Among the benefits of its solutions are integration of data from multiple sources, contextual query definition and organization of information into P&Ls as needed.
The key to Salient’s long-term success will be how well it continues to address business users who need analytical applications that complement (and do not compete with) BI platforms. Salient’s new initiatives to deliver medical and government transactional insights will help. Even so, as business and supply chains become more global, Salient will need to take greater advantage of the latest integration technologies, such as XML, Web services and service-oriented architectures, to grow in the face of ongoing and rising competition.
© 2005 Ventana Research