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Council for Research on Distributor Best Practices

Optimizing Business Analytics: Leveraging Data Analysis for Profitable Decision-making

The NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence and Texas A&M University’s Industrial Distribution Program maintain an alliance dedicated to further the understanding and application of best practices in wholesale distribution. This alliance operates through the Council for Research on Distributor Best Practices (CRDBP), whose mission is to create competitive advantage for wholesaler-distributors through development of research, tools, and education. Read more >

The CRDBP is organizing and operating educational consortia on important business topics for interested wholesale distribution companies of all sizes and across all lines of trade.

Overview and Need for Optimizing Business Analytics

Progressive wholesaler-distributors constantly refine and enhance their ability to adapt to new scenarios – whether it’s identifying profit leakage in channel compensation, determining the right price for a given customer, managing working capital through effective inventory and account receivable management, or motivating the workforce. The common thread among these activities is the application of analytics.

Analytics is the hidden force that brings sanity to profitable decision making. Top-quartile distributors use data analytics to identify patterns in customer buying behavior, analyze customer-level profitability, assess operational efficiency opportunities, manage cash flow through inventory levels, target micro market segments, detect salesforce performance gaps, and many other applications. Successful distributors use analytics as a tactical weapon, but not strategically. Even the top performers have only begun to unlock the power contained within the distributor’s data. Leading distributors are coming to realize the data they own is a gold mine which will determine their future success.

Recent developments in cloud computing and distributed processing have brought down data storage and computing costs drastically. Breakthroughs in commercializing tablet and smart phone technologies have introduced a new stream of enthusiasm among data or information consumers. The same old report is accessed with renewed interest due to improved user interaction. Business users have entered a new world of accessibility. Internet applications (ranging from social media sites to business e-commerce platforms) have helped both consumers and businesses create and capture more data than ever at an exponential rate. As these forces – affordability, accessibility, and availability – converge, they are creating a huge landscape of unprecedented, innovative opportunities for wholesaler-distributors to create and capture value in the channel through analytics. 

Research Questions and Objectives

This new landscape of opportunities introduces new questions such as:

  • As a wholesaler-distributor, where would I start to capture and leverage data analysis?
  • If my firm has already started the journey of analytics, how do I assess my capabilities? Where are my next opportunities?
  • If my firm is facing challenges in implementing analytics, how do I manage the turmoil and migrate to profitability?

This leads to a few key objectives that need to be explored and answered while understanding and leveraging analytics for wholesaler-distributors:

  • Assess analytics capabilities of wholesaler-distributors
  • Determine analytics applications and related business opportunities in wholesale distribution
  • Understand key challenges in implementing business analytics and best practices to overcome those challenges
  • Quantify the ROI implications for strategic investments in analytical capabilities
  • Develop a roadmap for optimizing shareholder value through analysis.

These objectives represent the industry challenges broadly, but the Optimizing Business Analytics Consortium members will have a chance to shape these objectives to suit their strategic goals. The consortium set-up (cross-industry collaboration and individual workshops) is designed for the purpose of understanding industry-wide challenges and firm-specific opportunities. These objectives are a starting point and will provide a good platform for consortium members to discuss, understand, and explore specific challenges.


  • A platform for interacting with similar-minded, pioneer firms (kick-off and final meetings)
  • A company-specific research workshop
  • The consortium members will receive results, methodology, and tools developed during this pioneering research in Optimizing Business Analytics including:

                  o Assessment of analytics capability
                  o Analytics opportunities for optimizing shareholder value
                  o A framework of tools, processes, methodologies, and metrics
                  o Best practices for applying analytics
                  o Roadmap for successful implementation.

  • 5 complimentary seats for educational sessions
  • All consortium member results and data shared with researchers will be kept confidential; only general findings and best practices will be shared with other consortium members.

Why join this research consortium?

Many times companies cannot afford to invest in some research and development due to high cost and/or lack of knowledge resources required to conduct the research. Research consortia are an economical path to low-cost, high-quality research and development that is essential to the growth of companies. Consortia also allow for the sharing of best practices and strategies among the cutting-edge organizations that invest in such efforts.

Who should join this research consortium?

This research consortium will be beneficial to wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers, who go to market through distributors.

Value to members

  • Consortium members will participate directly in the research and gain a better understanding of the findings.
  • The key benefit for wholesaler-distributors is that they will gain competitive advantage by implementing innovative best practices ahead of their competition.
  • Consortium members will develop relationships with other pioneer firms
  • Apart from shaping research focus and gaining a valuable knowledge base, methodology understanding, and usable tools, each consortium member will be able to send up to a total of five people to educational sessions that will be developed from this research. The educational sessions alone represent a $10,000 value.

Consortium structure and fees

The membership fee is $25,000 per company in this consortium. This fee will cover attendance in consortium meetings hosted by the Global Supply Chain Laboratory at Texas A&M University, and workshops with member firms to design the research solutions personalized to their needs.

For more information about this research consortium, contact:

  • Patricia A. Lilly
    Executive Director
    NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence
    1325 G Street, NW, Suite 1000
    Washington, DC 20005
    Office: (202) 872-0885
    Fax: (202) 785-0586
    E-mail: plilly@naw.org
    Website: http://www.naw.org/crdbp


January – March 2016

  • Consortium Registration

March 24, 2016

  • Consortium Kick-off Meeting

April – October 2016

  • Conduct Research Workshops

November 2016 – February 2017

  • Research and Develop Tools

March – April 2017

  • Final Consortium Meeting

May – June 2017

  • Develop Educational Program

July 2017 and onward

  • Deliver Educational Programs

September 27, 2016

  • Second Consortium Kick-off Meeting

Program Brochure