The use of business intelligence (BI) has improved sales for home improvement and paint specialists, Dulux Group, but now the company faces a tablet dilemma.
Dulux Group sales effectiveness manager, Stephen Mooney, told Computerworld Australia that although the 10-year relationship with local software company ComOps has improved information about customers’ buying habits — thanks to its sales force automation and BI offerings — the biggest challenge for Dulux were its laptops, which were not suitable for use by representatives when they went to retail stores and building sites.
"The laptop is good as a planning tool in the office, but we’re looking at iPad-sized devices that are coming on to the market because there is genuinely a shortage of smaller devices that are fit for organisations like ours," Mooney said.
Unfortunately for Dulux Group, Mooney said the handheld devices are not equipped with the processing power required to manage its systems such as Lotus Notes, while rugged laptops such as the Panasonic Toughbook were too large.
"Imagine the rep is at a hardware store and they have to tidy up the shelves, where can they place the laptop safely?” he said.
“Our standard platform is Windows 7, and we’ve looked at larger tablets but they are still about the same size as a laptop.”
With no device being small enough, the company’s sales representatives were forced to use a cut-down version of its sales systems on either a PDA or a smartphone. However, Mooney was confident that within the next two years, a tablet meeting Dulux Group’s requirements will be produced.
Turning to BI, Mooney said that in the "bad old days" before working with ComOps, sales representatives were lucky to receive a monthly report of the sales figures.
"They would use a hard copy system, whereas today they have all that information electronically,” he said.
“Now they can sit down with their customers and talk about specific purchases, history, different brands and put actions in place.”
According to Mooney, this enabled sales representatives to have a "really good financial conversation" with customers and present data in a way that was useful to sales people, such as who they should call on and with what opportunity their customers were interested in.
This was handy as Dulux sells a number of different brands, including Dulux paints, Selley's handyman products and Yates seeds.
“A lot of it is around understanding what the real potential of the customer is, based on key input,” Mooney said.
“BI doesn’t necessarily help us uncover new customers, but it helps uncover the true value of what they want to buy.”
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