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Centralizing Your Business Intelligence

A business intelligence system can help drive customer retention and uncover new sales opportunities whilst normalizing and centralizing reporting.

In the current environment consumer and customer demands have changed due to the pandemic, operating margins are shrinking, compliance and regulatory pressures are increasing, and IT bandwidth is often focused on risk management, cybersecurity and asset and data management rather than analytics and performance solutions. Yet CPG companies are still looking to grow their brands organically and through innovation, find new markets, and strengthen customer relationships.

A business intelligence system can help drive customer retention and uncover new sales opportunities whilst normalizing and centralizing reporting. Here are some things to consider when assessing business intelligence platforms

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Horses for Courses, But a Common View

Different parts of the organization need a business intelligence system for different things. Here’s a starter list:

  • Sales performance: sales analysis, syndicated data integration
  • Trade promotion management: trade spending, promotion analysis
  • Retail execution: merchandising
  • Supply chain management: orders, purchases, inventory, drop analysis
  • Finance: budget, profitability, deduction ageing, accounts receivable & payable, commissions

A good business intelligence system can operate across all of these and more on a centralized platform that provides a single ‘source of truth’ that can be used by everyone in the company.

When assessing business intelligence solutions and providers, ask yourself whether the solution offered has the flexibility to allow these different views and capabilities in a way that is still accessible to everyone. How well can it integrate multiple types of data from different sources, such as finance and inventory systems, or sources such as Salesforce? Is it data type agnostic?

Assessing Platform Capabilities

How well does the solution:

Enable better planning by providing trends?

Does it have trending features such as pivot views and rolling period columns to easily compare previous results to spot trends and anomalies? Can it provide several years of data at a time for quick analysis?  Can it provide trends by customer by various time periods e.g., this week versus same time last year, or November versus the five previous months?

Identify emerging issues?

Does it include predictive analytics capabilities that identify trends-based issues before they become major challenges impacting top and bottom-line results? Does it have Management by Exception (MBE) features that allow capture of lost sales in real time and monitor metrics to identify deviations requiring immediate intervention?

Grow the customer base?

Does it have features that locate opportunities for account penetration?

Identify who isn’t buying?

Does it notify users on product sales drop-offs and items customers aren’t purchasing over certain periods of time, such as weekly? Can it identify by item and brand where distribution has been picked up and lost by customer?

Determine cross profitability?

Such as across customer specific profitability, trade spending, broker commissions, trade spend analysis. All at various levels such as brand, item, territory? 

Deploy the right granular data to the right people?

Can it slice out only the data certain departments are responsible for such as by region, territory, or customer? Can it look at data by business unit, territory, geography, outside sales reps, parent customer, individual outlet location? Or from category level down to brands, items, and SKUs? Or combine the two, for example can a territory manager in the central US look at specific customers and by product within customer?


Can it provide automated reporting for MBE and KPI dashboards? Does it have pre-built and defined connectors, metrics and KPIs so that IT resources can be focused elsewhere rather than on custom report generation?

What good usability looks like

At a minimum, a business intelligence platform should be able to or have:

  • Flexible data loading time periods e.g., daily, weekly, monthly
  • Layer data year over year, versus budget for a period, or by plan and forecast for sales, cases, dollars
  • Numerous levels of multi-tier analysis
  • A charting mode, with interactive charting capability
  • One-click functionality for different views e.g., by sales rep or category, and for accessing trends such as month over month, week over week
  • Downloadable templates for sales budgets that can be loaded back in to track against, such as for field sales
  • Automated reports and dashboards, and dynamic KPI and customizable dashboard functionality
  • Various ways to print, export and share data and reports.

Example Uses

Users of the Exceedra’s Discovery business intelligence platform most commonly employ it for sales and promotion analysis, and for drop analysis for distributors and wholesalers.

Some are doing weekly updates and month close updates. Marketing departments are using it to look at product performance, where sales look at it by customer and frequency whether that is weekly, monthly, or quarterly including what customers are and are not buying.

Some companies are using it to help with business reviews, and in smaller companies it is used by demand planning teams and finance. Some are using it to pay rate-based broker commissions. Sales teams utilize it to review direct shipping and indirect distributor performance.

In Sum

A good business intelligence platform provides streamlined access to data that can be cut in multiple ways from a single source of truth to provide actionable insights for better informed, more profitable planning, decisions, and customer relationships.

Exceedra Discovery Solution is a holistic, flexible, centralized, data agnostic business intelligence platform built for the CPG and Foodservice sectors. Request a demo today.

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