They say data is the new gold – as in, the valuable information that allows businesses to make smart decisions and grow bottom lines.

There’s also a lot of it (unlike the precious metal).

Here’s the problem…

Retail businesses produce a ton of data. It flows in from multiple sources (social media, point-of-sale transactions, inventory movement…), in massive volume and at great speed. And someone — like the CIO — has to make sense of it.

That’s where Power BI comes in…

Power BI is a collection of software tools that pulls business data together in one place, providing retailers with clear, interactive (and visually stunning) information.

And that makes the retail CIO’s job easier

Take Sam for instance. He is CIO of a retail clothing chain. The operation’s data are all over the place… shoveled into ERP and CRM silos and stored on IT, accounting and warehouse hard drives.

Sam chases down ERP and CRM information and builds reports based on the data he finds. He knows that the insights coming out of this information are critical to business growth.

And as CIO, he needs to know where the data is and feel confident that he’s seeing the whole picture of the business. That way, he and the CEO can collaborate on what they see and take action to grow the business.

Sam thinks about the conversation he had recently with an AlfaPeople specialist. She understood the scattered, fixed-data issue (reassured him, he was not alone with this problem) and offered some direction:

1. Merge data with your business goals

These days, data shouldn’t function in isolation. It should be organized to tell the story of the business and provide instant, accurate readouts on the operation’s forecasted and actual profits.

Using the tools of Power BI, he can show his CEO what’s going on. This also allows Sam to create a connection between his data role and the CEO’s business role. The two executives can collaborate — allowing them to plan their store expansion into more states.

2. Focus on what the data says

It’s one thing to pull a lot of data from your business. It’s quite another to know what to do with it.

Once Sam has the tools he needs to organize the operation’s information, he can focus on the “truth” — the insights that will increase business profits. That’s where Power BI comes in: its business intelligence tools will allow him to gather and streamline information from every department — from online sales to inventory levels — and create real-time, accurate reports.

3. Eliminate the ‘big data’ headache

By collecting data from siloed ERP and CRM systems, CIOs create a picture of what should be happening. Which is fine… until something goes wrong.

With Microsoft Power BI, Sam can see what’s going on in the company’s retail stores. Its mobile-ready, cloud-based tools allow him to understand what’s actually happening (versus relying on what should be happening). That means he can solve inventory problems before empty shelves paralyze their biggest seasonal promotion.

4. Pull the plug on the CIO vacuum

All fingers point to the CIO for accurate data analysis. But if the data is coming from all over the place (yes, including, the locked-down hard drive in accounting), the CIO has to operate in the data vacuum, creating reports from spotty data.

Sam can set up his dashboard to connect with retail staff throughout the operation. All the necessary data appear in the customized layout, updating in real-time. That means the PR director and the warehouse manager can adjust their activities based on the same information Sam sees. No more hidden data in individual departments’ systems.

5. Create a living data story

In this fully-connected, always-on age, there’s little room for fixed-in-place data. That also applies to the information retailers must analyze and use to make decisions.

For Sam, a dashboard that he can quickly pull together from a report, invite input from colleagues then share with the CEO will save time and create accurate insights. He and the team can easily pin “tiles” in place on the dashboard, resize them, rename them, and fancy them up with simple clicks and drags — on their tablet or phone. The result is all data, all in one place, streamlined and beautifully displayed.

Transform data into new business gold

In modern retail, data travels in high-volume and at high-velocity. And how it’s managed is critical to an operation’s success. With the fast pace of retail, there is no room for misinterpreted data. With the help of Power BI, retailers can easily transform their business information into accurate insights and profitable outcomes.

With AlfaPeople’s Power BI expertise, you can turn your retail operation’s data into a precise business understanding with confidence. We’ll help un-silo your data and bring it together — all in one place, on a high-performance dashboard.

Managing Partner at AlfaPeople

With +25 years in the enterprise business solutions space, Erik has a proven track record of advising Midsize and Enterprise companies through successful implementations. His strong focus on Retail for the last 10 years has led to Erik being recognized as a respected leader in Dynamics Retail solutions and a trusted advisor to many retailers.

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