How Qlik Creates Better Customer Insights Leading to 378% Revenue Growth in One Year
In the last 15 years that I’ve been working in the business intelligence (BI) community, I’ve seen vendors make a lot of mistakes. But the biggest misstep that I see time and time again is to act like your customers are data scientists. As a result, products are far too complex for many end users.
Data tools should be easy to use so customers can be self-sufficient. What’s the point of acquiring complex data if your customers can’t harness it to improve their business outcomes? Business intelligence is useless if the data simply provides a snapshot of where you’ve been. Customers need tools that recombine data in ways that better inform their decisions, lead to increased revenues, and, most importantly, show them where the business is going.
Data Is the New Oil
In the information economy, data is the new oil. BI is the new refinery. We extract data from multiple systems that operate across organizational and business silos. We refine the raw numbers into information that drives sales and growth.
At MPower MSL, we’re refining that data for our customers in the sports, leisure, and hospitality industries. We provide point-of-sale and value-added services—including inventory and mobile ordering; customer engagement and loyalty; membership and workforce management; and marketing—to venue operators and member-based organizations.
MPower MSL started as Micropower Solutions in Australia in the late 1980s, but we’ve acquired companies and expanded globally in the last five to seven years. We now help run 60% of the soccer stadiums in the English Premier League.
Going global has its share of challenges since every country has its own nuances. In an Australian sports stadium, for example, spectators can drink beer at their seats which they are not allowed to do at an English Premier League game. You have to get up, go to the point of sale, and consume the drink there. There’s a mad dash for pints before and after the game and at half-time. These differences mean there isn't one solution that's right for every country. We need to adapt to the uniqueness of each market.
MPower Connect is our API layer that provides near-seamless integration with key business applications. An Australian customer might use MPower Connect to integrate gaming vendor and point-of-sale data for member loyalty. Conversely, a UK client might use point-of-sale data to set stock levels at specific beer concessions.
I’ve been with the company for 18 months. Initially, MPower MSL brought me in to handle the BI component of the company.
When I dove into our existing BI system, I discovered the software wasn’t very easy to use. The platform also wasn’t good at allowing customers to ask questions and get answers at the speed of thought. If anything, it was simply a reporting product, and what we crucially needed was a BI component that provided true analytics to our customers.
I talked to several vendors, but most of them only seemed interested in hitting their sales quota. But our meeting with Qlik was different. They asked about our customers’ needs. They talked about long-term solutions and building a partnership. Most importantly, Qlik was a global vendor available to help us as we expanded into more markets.
We started with a three-month evaluation of Qlik’s open data analytics platform. The first aspect that impressed me was the software’s ease of use. The second was Qlik’s investment in R&D. We need an analytical platform that will constantly push the envelope. Qlik’s commitment to research and development means continual updates and new features. This progressive thinking, paired with Qlik’s open API, makes it simple to build more features into our BI product to meet the emerging needs of our customers.
Our first step was to define the data models that would support our customer base. For our trial, we limited ourselves to our Australian operations. We targeted customers who used one of the point-of-sale solution we resold domestically, as well as a few gaming providers. We then worked with the gaming providers on data acquisition and funneled the gathered information into the Qlik integration.
Our goal was a 360-degree solution. As you can imagine, our venue customers have a tremendous amount of data and they may not understand its value. Without a way to connect the dots, without the ability to visualize and analyze how the various elements of their business intertwine, our customers may miss out on critical insights that will result in better decisions and practices.
None of this was possible with the reports-based approach of our previous business solution.
Business Intelligence in Action
So, how does our solution work? Let me give you an example.
Say you have a class of customers who don’t visit your venue very often, but spend a lot of money when they do. Using our Qlik-based BI solution, you can analyze the effect of raising the frequency of their visits by 5–10% If the boost in revenues is significant, you can further drill down to explore their purchasing habits, and figure out the food and beverages they consume. Armed with all this information, you can then create a targeted promotional campaign to better draw them to the venue.
If you integrate this into a third-party marketing platform, for example, you can analyze what the members of your mailing list are consuming at the venue and then send targeted SMS offers to specific individuals.
One of our customers in Sydney used our BI tool to figure out a revenue slippage issue. They shut down different concessions at one venue and routed the customers to a single main area. Revenues dropped because clients had to wait to be served during the time it took employees to shut down the other areas and move to the main location. Armed with this data, the client could clearly see what was wrong and immediately fix the problem.
This is only the beginning. Thanks to extensive R&D, Qlik constantly rolls out new ways our customers can analyze and visualize large data sets across multiple silos. More importantly, Qlik’s forward thinking will soon allow us to offer real-time data acquisition to our customers. Predictive analysis and machine learning are a big part of my plans for MPower BI.
The Present and the Future
English Premier League beer sales may provide a testing ground for future versions of our BI offering. Imagine 15,000 football fans ordering pints after the first half. What if our customers could track sales and stock levels in real time? They would instantly know which concessions sold what, and could move inventory and personnel in moments to meet demand. This information would be invaluable to existing venue operator clients, but we could also open up new markets as an offering to new customers, like breweries.
This is all very exciting. I believe that things will take off with the arrival of real-time analytics and data streaming. BI is going to be a massive space, and MPower MSL is committed to exploring the potential.
Not only is the potential huge, but we’ve seen immediate results. Since we’ve rolled out our Qlik-based BI solution a year ago, we’ve seen revenues increase 378% compared to the old platform. The new platform is, quite frankly, just easier to sell to new customers. They see the value instantly.
We’ve shown value, in part, by getting our customers up and running quickly with our use of templates. Each part of the solution, from data acquisition to the end-user interface, is based on a template. Nobody starts with a blank page. Even the most basic templates provide our customers with a wealth of visualized data. This has allowed us to get customers up and running in a day or two.
The Successful Few
Business intelligence is booming, yet many data-gathering projects will fail. Harnessing and acquiring data, and molding it into a usable form is a time-consuming task. The proper handling of data requires specialized skills that most companies typically lack. You don’t have to be an analytics wizard to get actionable data for your business, but you do have to find the right partner, like Qlik.
If you’re looking for the right BI solution, you need to do your research. The best BI solutions make it easy to analyze and visualize complex data. Also, you need to plan for the long term. A robust data strategy today will save you time and money tomorrow. The cost of changing solutions and retraining your users can be staggering. Think of where you want to be in five years, and then find a BI vendor who can help get you there.