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The State of BI, Data, and Analytics in Retail and Wholesale

This research is part of a series focusing on industry-specific analyses of business intelligence (BI), data, and analytics.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Retail and Wholesale industry changed profoundly due to factors such as elimination and consolidation of traditional brands and players, digitization, and combining e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar shopping into integrated “365 customer experiences.” As this industry continues to transform itself digitally, its consumption of technology, business intelligence (BI), data, and analytics will increase.

The impacts of COVID-19 exacerbated these challenges. Some players now rely on digital channels and e-commerce to sustain their business. Others temporarily or permanently ceased operations. Yet, a sizeable segment of the industry also flourishes as those businesses meet the needs of emerging demand patterns.

Because the survey data analyzed in this report predates the current global pandemic, the view is mixed and you should temper it for the vastly different reality that set in after 1Q20 (see the Research Insight “New Findings on How COVID-19 Impacts Businesses, Budgets, and Projects.” Dresner Advisory Services expects to publish additional research on the impact of COVID-19 as we analyze new survey data.)

Executive Summary

  • Retail and wholesale organizations are less successful with their BI solutions than their peers in other industries. Their levels of data-driven decision-making exceeds other industries.
  • BI budgets in retail and wholesale organizations currently tend to increase, with the largest portion of planned spending allocated to internal headcount.
  • Although retail and wholesale organizations report lower levels of data literacy, they show higher rates of building or planning data-literacy programs.
  • Retail and wholesale organizations tend to score higher on the Dresner Advisory Services Hyper-Decisive™ Maturity Model, including in the dimensions of value, entrepreneurship, and monetization; and transparency and accountability.
  • Although many retail and wholesale organizations lack formal BI, data, and analytics leadership, they more likely than their counterparts in other industries could add these positions in the future.
  • The rate of BI penetration in retail and wholesale organizations lags other industries. We expect this will continue.
  • The top three BI business drivers in retail and wholesale organizations (driving better decision-making, operational efficiency, and higher revenues) do not align well with how retail and wholesale organizations emphasize application of BI solutions (for growing revenue and increasing competitive advantage).
  • Compared to other industries, retail and wholesale organizations show a higher propensity for the finance and sales functions to drive their BI initiatives.
  • Compared to other industries, executives, middle management, line managers, partners/affiliates, and suppliers in retail and wholesale organizations consume more information.
  • The technology priorities for retail and wholesale organizations support both BI core competencies and BI innovations, with sales planning, in-memory analytics, and marketing analytics topping the list.
  • Compared to other industries, retail and wholesale organizations more likely source BI solutions from best-of-breed vendors and use enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

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