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Case study: Denmark’s Bang & Olufsen takes control of sales data

Denmark based audio-visual equipment maker uses cloud-based channel management software to give it the sales insight it needs to make better decisions

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CW Nordics: CW Nordics: Finns turn IT layoffs to their advantage

Denmark-based audio-visual manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has implemented cloud-based channel data management software, from Zyme, to get a clearer view of how its sales channels perform. This follows the success of a new online business.

In 2012, The manufacturer launched B&O Play to create an online channel for the sale of products and services.

In the early stages of developing B&O Play, the challenge was getting the product into the market and creating demand and awareness for the brand. After rapid growth, it now has around 30 distributors and 5,700 selling points across the world.

However, it recently became clear the company needed to make sure its growth was sustainable. It realised it was critical to get an immediate grasp on its sales data to fully understand the channel and sustain its early success.

Making data part of the DNA

Kasper Frederiksen, a business analyst at B&O Play, said demand from the management team for greater visibility of the channel was “born out of our desire to be a data-driven company”.

“We realised as a lean but ambitious organisation, we needed to make the most effective use of our time and resources to maximise our potential, and making data part of our DNA was the solution,” says Frederiksen.

B&O Play found it had limited visibility of the day-to-day activities and performance of its distribution and retail channel. Although distributors were sending in monthly reports, the immediate account manager did not always share data from the partner with the wider team.

As a result, channel management decisions were based on incomplete partner data and there was little ability to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of channel marketing or sales activities, or to plan effective support for the retail partners.

B&O Play wanted to keep pace with consumer demands, and needed to make all data available to support its wider team. Ultimately, it recognised it had become essential to invest in channel data management (CDM) that could provide a global view of the business.

Pilot study

To ensure the highest possible acceptance of the CDM initiative throughout the business and at every level, the B&O Play team took the decision to include the entire business during the proof of concept stage. Five partners were invited to participate in the pilot study using actual business data.

This was the first time that B&O Play had asked all of its distributors to submit their reports via one system in one format. It was critical that any system deployed was easy to access, use and then integrate to ensure that any change in process did not reduce the overall success of the initiative. Although some regions proved to be harder to get data from than Europe or the US, for example, feedback from distributors about the new approach to CDM was positive.

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The proof of concept stage enabled the company to promote the benefits of taking a data-driven approach to internal operations, sales and marketing and to encourage all departments to use channel intelligence to make better decisions.

B&O chose a service from Zyme following a competitive supplier review process. Zyme’s software was seen as the most comprehensive offering.

Part of the attraction was Zyme offering an intuitive interface that could be customised to suit each user’s needs. B&O Play identified Zyme as the best supplier from a features-and-functionality perspective, in addition to the level of knowledge and consultancy the Zyme team was able to bring to the table regarding channel data management.

Rapid implementation of selected CDM product

“It was clear from the outset that investing in Zyme would not only provide us with an IT solution. It would also provide us with a professional partner that would share best practices and help us get the most from our channel data. Its commitment to collaboration, as well as the continuous development of new services and solutions, was also important,” says Frederiksen.

The success of the pilot study meant that the time between the decision to invest in Zyme and the first phase of the initial roll-out was minimal, and completed by the end of March 2016. The implementation of all other partners across the globe was a gradual process that ran until the end of May 2016.

Frederiksen says there were challenges getting partners fully on-board. “It’s fair to say encouraging partners to adapt to the new format for data recording required persistence, and that inspiring internal teams to see the value in new ways of working was challenging, but it’s been a positive journey overall,” he adds.

Improving channel visibility

Six months after the completion of the implementation, B&O Play now has access to a single global dashboard that has become the foundation for creating much improved channel visibility. In addition, it has enabled the company to focus its sales team on driving sales opportunities instead of spending time gathering and analysing inconsistent data.

“We have only seen the tip of the iceberg so far,” says Frederiksen. “Having the right data and facts on the table is becoming more and more important, and is particularly true in the world of audio-visual products, where technology and consumer demand moves at such a fast pace.”

B&O Play says it has no doubt this investment will bring value to the organisation, and plans are in place to include more retailers in this new data capture and sharing initiative.

“Lack of data could mean a lost opportunity, but we are confident that Zyme can help us keep up with demand and make the best business decisions,” Frederiksen concludes.

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