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Apex Tool Group is a privately held American supplier of hand tools and power tools. The majority of Apex’s business is in North America and Europe, totaling 1.4 billion in revenue with over 7,500 associates. This use case shows the steps taken by the BI (Business Intelligence) team at APEX to create value out of their point of sale data and develop measurable returns for commercial functions using Alteryx. Alteryx helped fill substantial information gaps in relation to their product and sales life cycles and it created accountability around enterprise systems training and capabilities. Overall, Alteryx helped the BI team generate over $4.1 million in global annual revenue between productivity savings, revenue generation, and cost savings.
Describe the Business Challenge Problem
Apex has lots of data that they couldn’t utilize, due to this problem the executive team developed the Global Business Intelligence division to help make sense of Apex’s data. The point of sale data was the most chaotic and confusing data sets they had. Apex sells through a two or three-step distribution, not directly to consumer companies. They manufacture the product and then sell it to a distributor or retailer who then sells it to an end-user. Point of sale (pos) information is important to them because they lose sight of that product or that sale once it is sold to a distributor. They couldn’t clearly identify why products were selling better or worse in different markets since they didn’t have that information or at least it wasn’t clean or clear. Apex had been using a third-party group to collect that point of sale information but they would receive data for a specific time 60 days after the fact. As a result, they didn’t know how to strategize for the present and Apex wasn’t certain that the third party group was collecting information properly.
Describe your Working Solution
Point of Sale reporting needed to be accurate, fast, easy, repeatable and create cost savings. Apex needed to know how precise was their data and they couldn’t confirm that because they didn’t know if the data process the third-party group Apex used was correct. Instead of trying to match all the data in their existing spreadsheets with the data coming from Alteryx, Apex specifically focused on what percentage of their part numbers were accurate. The BI team set a goal of 95% part number data accuracy and with Alteryx they exceeded expectations reaching 99.82% part number accuracy.
The next goal was to figure out how to make their reporting process easy. They needed to consolidate their data into one location. Apex’s existing data users and consumers leveraged SAP - Bex analyzer to pull data, over 50 Excel files with pos data, and more Excel files to compile and compare Sales Opportunity numbers. The BI team took the visualizations they were able to build with Alteryx and their new accurate pos data and embedded it into Apex’s SF (Salesforce) home page for users to access at any time.
Apex’s global teams were now using the data from Alteryx and the BI teams dashboards to understand how certain products were selling based on geographic locations; thus allowing users to question those outcomes and investigate things they’ve never been capable of solving before Alteryx. They can now drill down to the skew level to understand if some of their skews hit life cycle dead zones and if they need to reinvigorate those skews.
Alteryx didn’t just have an effect on Apex’s current sales pipeline, the BI team was also able to connect SAP BW directly to SF through a company called DVW. With this connection, the BI team was able to designate brand level information by account for: year to date, prior year to date, month to date, etc. Their commercial team now has greater detail around accounts but more importantly, they can now use the data within Salesforce for customer lead generation, account planning, marketing campaigns, etc. With the SAP and SF connection, the commercial team now has access to their customer data through the SF mobile platform, giving them immediate access wherever they are to their numbers with the help of Alteryx.
These analytical processes and capabilities provided through Alteryx have even begun to drive Apex’s next steps. They are moving the data storage to a BW instance for information security and backup purposes and to increase sharing capability. They’re sharing this information with more people and they’re taking these processes outside of just sales, marketing, and leadership and offering it to supply chain, product marketing, and management. That way they can use POS data to make more decisions across their whole organization.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
Even though the Apex BI team hadn’t existed for very long, their impact was so significant that they won the Apex Silver Value Creator of the year award. This was all for their data clean up, dashboards, refreshes, and global reporting efforts that they’d accomplished with Alteryx. The BI team’s POS data has impressed leadership so much so that they’re now sharing it with teams outside of their organization or sales or marketing. As a result, the BI team has more autonomy and resources to focus on creating more customer or partner-specific reports and thus, directly generating business growth and strengthening ties between themselves and their partners and customers.
In terms of making the process fast, it took their third party group 60 days to report the pos numbers to Apex. They would wait until they had all 15 data sets before they began cleaning and merging the data. The biggest problem is that in September the BI team would just be receiving numbers from July which at that point provides little to no value since the data is so old. With Alteryx, Apex’s BI team was able to get that pos data compilation down to two days' time when they first piloted the software, and now that their environment has been developed, they’ve cut it down to 30 minutes and it runs every day. In comparison to the third party, that’s a 99.97% reduction in time and to make this process repeatable they used a virtual machine and bought Alteryx Server.
The cost savings goal was a total of $2.9 million annually in terms of productivity and resource savings, revenue generation, and cost savings. By leveraging Alteryx, the BI team has been able to effectively count extra revenue that was created because they’re now able to quickly and effectively report accurate sales numbers back to their teams which allows them to be proactive with their customer base. They expect that number to continue to increase now that more customers are participating in this process; they see the value of what this new process this is doing for both Apex and other customers that work with them.
The BI team was able to replicate this process in Europe as well, with a cost savings/revenue generation of $1.2 million annually and what used to take a day for the European teams to prepare for a quarterly business review with customers now took the click of their mouse to have their desired information.
The entire PowerPoint presentation can be found here