senior manager of IT Enterprise Intelligence, Office Depot
Case Study: Office Depot
Beyond the Browser
After seeing big results from online marketing initiatives, Office Depot does more with its data.
For two years, Office Depot has been working to develop analytics systems that will give it a better view of the customer across channels. The company is also looking to better understand the data it gathers throughout the organization and find ways to use it to make insightful business decisions. To find out more about the business benefits Office Depot is getting from its data, Teradata Magazine spoke with Kevin Burch, senior manager of IT Enterprise Intelligence.
The marketing organization has been working on many product initiatives. How have these morphed into developing an overall strategy?
Burch: We started with using the data to provide marketing campaign management and sales reporting. Over the past couple of years we’ve grown to integrate the data into the overall business and have made significant impacts to the contract sales operations organization.
What’s been the catalyst for implementing these solutions?
Burch: A big driver is the fact that we are focusing more on the customer and how we can enable better customer service and selling opportunities with our small, medium and large customers segments. To take advantage of that, we launched an integrated marketing and analytical strategy aimed at understanding more about these customers and how to communicate with them.
We bring in all the customer, sale, merchandising, sales rep hierarchy, customer hierarchy—our foundational data. On top of that, we built an IBM Cognos model that enables self-service reporting for our different business units. Our marketing and contract sales group uses this self-service feature for analytics and reporting. Also, data quality and accuracy is a critical component to our success. Mailings to the wrong address can become costly if the data is not correct.
What kind of results are you seeing?
Burch: One savings to Office Depot has been in reducing the number of people from the third-party vendor we need to work with by two-thirds—down to 10 from 30. There’s a hard-dollar cost associated with that.
"Our finance organization can reconcile detailed gross sales information to the general ledger within 1 percent and detailed tax sales information to the general ledger within 0.05 percent."
—Kevin Burch, senior manager of IT Enterprise Intelligence, Office Depot
Moreover, in Office Depot’s finance area, we rolled out a tool to integrate data from the financial operational system. We’re able to centralize several finance modules— accounts receivable, accounts payable, general ledger, tax and project office information. Our finance organization can reconcile detailed gross sales information to the general ledger within 1 percent and detailed tax sales information to the general ledger within 0.05 percent.
What are some other benefits?
Burch: The first big piece has been to expand our online marketing capabilities. We have emails coming from many different sources—loyalty customers, online, in store. And they all have different permissions to opt in or opt out. Another large project has been focused on improving the original customer database that we built a decade ago. We’ve streamlined processes. We also brought new business firmagraphic information from companies like InfoGroup and Dun & Bradstreet that have given us a very good baseline for our marketing and sales, particularly to our small, medium and large customers. Today, we can integrate critical business firmagraphic information to better target new and existing customers. This will impact how we market to customers across all channels, along with being able to give our contract sales force a true system of record when they go to visit customers.
How have you been able to introduce the benefits of analytics enterprise-wide?
Burch: We developed the BICC [Business Intelligence Competency Center], which is an internal group of business stakeholders, analysts, developers and directors who meet once a month. In these sessions, we review metric definitions for reporting and discuss best practices. The goal is to gain visibility and alignment on what is going on in the data warehouse and BI [business intelligence].
How have your initiatives been received within the company?
Burch: Very well. The system has eliminated some of the manual processes that were previously being done within the enterprise.
Through an initiative this year, our contract sales force can order Customer Business Review PowerPoint presentations and receive them within minutes rather than up to five days, which it generally took through a previous offline solution.
When one of our sales reps visits a customer, he or she brings a presentation that outlines the savings opportunities at Office Depot, shows the products the client purchased in certain categories, what they’ve been spending and what companies like theirs are spending.
These presentations used to be manually produced by a third-party company. We’ve built a process to bring the data into the warehouse and to provide a Web service solution. The sales rep puts in a request to create the data and automatically generates the presentation within minutes.
What’s in store for the future?
Burch: Office Depot will continue to look for ways to improve our business insights.
We are looking into incorporating supply chain and transportation information for the first time into the data warehouse to get a full view of orders and the costs of ordering and selling our products. Previously, we did manual reporting of this data. We’re now working on integrating it with our orders and customer information, which will allow us to create dashboards where the supply chain business partners can track delivery metrics and get insights into loss prevention, customer service and third-party carriers.
We’re very excited about what’s on the horizon at Office Depot and the success that we anticipate!