In this era of constant digital disruptions, wholesale distribution companies are trying to stay current and relevant by incorporating various technologies into their daily business operations and HR practices. The good news: Distributors now have more data than ever available at their fingertips. The challenge: As big data increases, so does the demand for sophisticated analysis.

The reality: Many distributors are overwhelmed by the abundance of technology-enabled data and simply don’t use much of it. The result: Data gets buried in archives. If this is your company’s situation, consider this question: How can you use your technology-generated data in ways that truly impact your bottom line?

Analytics is your viable solution. Simply put, analytics is the use of data, statistical analysis, and explanatory and predictive models to discover and interpret meaningful patterns in data. Analytics can provide insights into a host of complex issues for your business, such as market competition, hiring, retention and profitability.

For this reason, analytics must start with a question. Use candidate spotting as an example. How can we find the best candidates? To do so, you need to stay proactive with your recruitment efforts and not wait for an employee to leave and create a vacancy. Traditionally, HR has kept certain candidates in the pipeline and placed them as and when the need arises. But the right candidates are in high demand and aren’t waiting idly for a recruiter to approach them. That means recruiters must know where to spot their desirable candidates well in advance. This is where talent analytics can play a big role, because talent analytics will give you insights on

  • talent density across American cities
  • universities that are training students in the skills you need
  • industry sources with candidates who are not actively pursuing new jobs.

With this information, your recruiters are better positioned to streamline the hiring process to focus on sources that promise better results.

And, to make analytics truly work, having a well-defined question is not enough. Effective analytics involves three steps. You must

  • gather data through multiple sources (highlight)
  • interpret data through analysis (insight)
  • create models to predict the probability of the outcome (foresight).

The first two steps are a means to the last one, which should be your ultimate goal—to move you away from looking at facts so you better identify current trends to predict the future. If you go through the entire process, you will be better prepared to address many “what-if” questions. Unfortunately, many distribution companies do not use analytics beyond the first step of data gathering. As a consequence, the potential benefits of analytics is largely compromised. For a better understanding of broad applications of analytics, please read Chapter 4: Talent Planning in NAW’s latest book, Optimizing Human Capital Development.

Any system that generates data is a potential market for analytics. So look for the possibilities within your company. With analytics, you will be able to base your decisions on evidence rather than intuition. You will also be able to quantify the impact of your human capital investments and answer a number of business- and people-related questions such as:

  • What impact does sales training have on revenue generation?
  • What impact does customer service rep turnover have on customer satisfaction?
  • What is the impact of implementing lean production management on accident risk or production quality?
  • What impact does high-quality job orientation have on employee productivity and/or retention?

And, you will be able to use analytics results to improve your current business and HR strategies so you can stay focused on areas that matter most to your bottom line.

For many organizational leaders, the wealth of data and the maturation of analytics tools are creating a tipping point between intuition-based versus data-driven business solutions. How you use analytics can be your game changer or differentiator, so invest time to develop your company’s analytics capabilities.

You may learn more by reading Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Talent Strategy. You’ll achieve business excellence by maximizing your human capital potential!