Fashion house PANGAIA is working with business intelligence specialist Board International to create an integrated view of the information it holds.
Daniel Smith, Head of Analytics at PANGAIA, says Board’s technology is helping him to transform sales-reporting processes, consolidate multiple data sources and enhance analytical capabilities. By working with Board, his company has clearer visibility of the information it holds and how the insight it derives can be used to identify new opportunities:
We've now built over 20-plus different dashboard and planning solutions that have enabled us to push data-driven decision making into the organisation and that wasn't necessarily easy beforehand. A lot of that was actually done using spreadsheets, which still makes me shiver when I think about it today. Working with Board has helped me to facilitate a data-driven culture in the organization.
After two decades with British American Tobacco, where he was Head of Global Analytics, Smith joined PANGAIA at the beginning of 2020. He immediately began to think about how he could use technology to create a better understanding of sales figures, improve the management of returns and present data to merchandising teams in a more digestible and visual way:
We did a proper RFP where companies were measured. We were looking for the balance of a company that could present data from an analytics point of view, that gave us the sort of planning capability that a lot of visualisation tools don't necessarily give you, and we wanted something that was multi-discipline.
After the RFP exercise in May 2020, PANGAIA selected Board a month later. The project commenced in July and the first dashboard went live in October. Smith says the fashion brand selected Board’s technology because it offered the opportunity to take a customized approach to the development of business intelligence:
What we've always liked about Board is the fact that you're buying off-the-shelf modules, but you can tailor those to fit the needs of the team. So, because it has so much customization in it, it doesn't have that rigidity that you will get with a ‘solution’, where the team has to totally adapt to this way of working.
Another important factor that helped sway the decision in Board’s favor was the provider’s consultative expertise, with Smith feeling the vendor was prepared to pass on expert knowledge to his team:
The fact that they work with multiple companies with multiple experiences means they learn from whoever they work with. So, if they've done a project with somebody else, and that's brought in some really good ideas that can be shared, then that's where we really see benefits.
Smith says Board’s technology works alongside his company’s other data investments. PANGAIA uses Microsoft Azure as its data warehouse to consolidate cross-business information for reports and dashboards. Many of the company’s self-service reports are produced through Power BI, such as a daily commercial stand up. Smith says Board provides a hub for planning and trend predictions across business functions:
As we've matured over the past few years, we've seen its position become very clear. We use Power BI dashboards, because at the end of the day, we just want to get to the numbers and see what's happening. But the insights that generally come out of that are then causing, for example, the merchandising planning team to go into Board and start making their decisions.
PANGAIA now has a consolidated view of its data. People across the business use this single source of the truth to make key business decisions, such as those relating to customer trends and sales opportunities. Another benefit, says Smith, is the evolutionary nature of the Board platform. Two and a half years ago, PANGAIA employed just 11 people; today, it employs more than 170. Smith says the platform has grown with the business:
We’ve grown massively during the pandemic and we’ve had to evolve rapidly. Having a solution that's been able to evolve as we've evolved – and having a consultative team that also understands that and has added value to us during that journey – has been the real benefit. It's an end-to end-partnership and that conversation doesn't stop.
The evolutionary nature of the platform sits in sharp contrast to other systems. Often, the biggest pain barrier facing a fast-growing business, says Smith, is finding technological platforms that can evolve at an appropriate pace:
As we grow, we hit a capacity in terms of certain systems. In the time that I've been here, we're on our third finance system. Now I think we’ve finally got the right solution, but it's taken until that point to move from a core finance system to a proper cloud-based ERP service from NetSuite.
When it comes to long-term plans for the Board technology, Smith says his team’s focus over the next two years is developing end-to-end planning capabilities. The firm is also looking at supply chain planning, with the aim of bringing greater interconnectivity between systems and data across the business. He says PANGAIA also plans to use the information it collects to keep a much tighter grip on sustainability concerns:
Improving our impact is critical for us. We want to be carbon neutral by 2025. And that's another area where we'll assess what we're looking at in terms of getting robustness in our recording and reporting.
Finally, Smith is looking to build strong connections with the firm’s NetSuite ERP deployment and to provide additional capability for finance planning, cash-flow management and budget management. He says the aim is to ensure that finance information is a driving force for decision-making processes across the organization. Yet Smith says it’s also important to note that the Board implementation isn’t just focused on reporting – and he advises other digital leaders to recognise the multi-disciplinary nature of the product:
From an IT point of view, you've got one solution that can be used to help support planning, forecasting and modelling across multiple disciplines. So, that's one app versus one app per vertical. From an IT side, that's very advantageous. From a functional side, meanwhile, you’re buying a solution out of the box, which you can tailor to your needs, whether that’s simply cosmetics or the actual workflow.