Ever sat in a sales or ops meeting and considered leaping out of the window? The staid format of reviewing an endless stream of figures is definitely ripe for reinvention.
Reporting and analysis of the wealth of data inside 3EX.NET has always posed a challenge. Some clients like scheduled and automated reports in a tabular format whilst others prefer to see a graphical interpretation. Beyond that, the real data monkeys want to ‘slice and dice’ information to gain unique insight. However, without technical skills, working with query language at a low level is very difficult and not a task suited to most sales managers, buyers or accountants. In response, we have built a number of standard ‘data cubes’ within 3EX.NET that negate any need for complex SQL and allow multi-dimensional analysis using standard Windows tools such as Excel. Taking this to the next level, Version 4 introduces the new Power BI module, which is specifically designed to make analysis and presentation of complex data a breeze using drag-and-drop visualisation tools to quickly analyse and explore. A really good example of how Power BI converts data into actionable insight is Geo Mapping. Within the data library is customer address data which enables us to project the sales on to a map. Zoom and ‘Drill down’ provides the interactivity to see sales at a county or town level, split by customer and even line or product level detail. In total, this single screen replaces 6 individual reports and could be the saviour of many a reps sales meeting!
Dashboards can be used to implement a ‘Passive Management’ environment in sales teams, customer care departments and warehouses. Simple presentation methods such as ‘traffic lighting’ use colour alongside data to good effect. By detailing information, targets and performance to staff on large screens, a number of clients have been able to improve individual and team productivity without the need for micro-management.
As Power BI is a web application, it can be viewed within 3EX.NET, online and on mobile devices. Users can access data anywhere, anytime with live and interactive viewing of important business information.
But, saving the best for last, my favourite feature of Power BI is the fish tank. “What?” I hear you say? Well, amongst the many visualisation tools is an option to chart figures and display proportionality using fish of various sizes who then aimlessly swim around the screen. Whilst I love Power BI, this does seem like one whacky, ‘run-up-the-flagpole’ idea that was actually developed without any meaningful purpose! That said, our sales team loved it and certainly lifted our last meeting beyond the mundane.