I often ask my colleagues at the CPG companies we work with, “Do you trust the data you get from retailers?” It’s a provocative question, I know, but I don’t ask it because I think retailers are fudging their data or trying to mislead their CPG partners. I ask it because of the simple fact that their data is prone to error in various ways. It may be incomplete, there may be duplicate data points, or previously sent data may be “recast”—but one way or another, it’s just not clean.
At that point, it’s left to CPGs to distinguish what’s what—fill in missing fields, determine business rules, fix and reload errors, and integrate it all with their internal data. Add in work to identify and analyze promotions and predict future problems that may affect the bottom line, and you’re talking about a lot of time, effort and expense just to make sense of this data and hopefully use it to find some actionable insights.
Now, considering the fact that such data comes in by the bucketful and at variable intervals, you can see why the work of ensuring that it’s clean is extremely complex. For this reason, CPGs often pay third-party providers to do the work for them and hand over summarized data. But thanks to the maturity of cutting-edge demand signal management solutions, doing this work in-house no longer needs to be as arduous or expensive as it was in the past.
Demand signal management solutions—what to look for
Companies looking for a reliable enterprise demand signal management solution must be certain it has predefined processes to handle data integration, cleansing and management—all with an interface and workflow that are easy to use. Other must-have features include:
- Database-specific API tie-ins
- Little to no coding necessary
- In-memory processing for maximum performance
A true demand signal management solution will automate the extraction, transformation, cleansing, synchronization and management of data—thereby making simple tasks easy and complex tasks possible, all while providing a fast ROI for POS projects. And by doing enterprise demand signal management work in-house, CPGs not only get more timely information but they also save money by purchasing only the data they aren’t already getting from retailers.
So what are the caveats, if any? Be cautious of vendors offering demand signal management solutions that leave you completely dependent on them for any future customizations or enhancements. Because demand signal management is a “process” rather than a “product,” companies should have the option to make future enhancements and management decisions without being forced to go back to the vendor.
Every company is different and may grow into its solution in a unique way, but common changes like adding a new retailer or a new data source should be possible without contracting the vendor for additional services or add-on “modules.” You should have the control to run processes or stop them, view log files and even monitor jobs in real-time—all behind your own firewall, if you wish.
The recent addition of Relational Solutions to Mindtree has grown our capabilities in this area exponentially. We are excited to help CPG companies get ahead of the curve and start taking control of the data available to them. If you’re ready to take the next step in demand signal management, please contact us for a conversation.