The Distribution Blog

Why Actionable Data is Crucial for Distributors

March 22, 2022

Table of Contents

The B2B environment is data-driven. Distributors must use data to inform complex business decisions and improve customer interactions. Relying on hunches and hearsay is not effective in B2B.

Actionable data is any information you use to make better decisions about the future. It results from analyzing raw data your business creates or collects. For data to be actionable, it must be processed and in an organized, user-friendly, and easy-to-consume format.

Most distributors recognize that this information is necessary. They don’t realize that they have mountains of unused data ready to transform their organization.

Distributors that invest in actionable data unveil customer purchasing patterns and needs, boost profits, and have the insight to make data-based decisions about their business. Those that don’t prioritize actionable data will struggle to compete.

What is the Difference Between Structured and Unstructured Data?

Most distributors have two types of data: structured and unstructured. Structured data consists of information that can be slotted into a spreadsheet or relational database with relative ease, such as transaction histories. Conventional computer models use this format to make sense of data.

The bulk of data collected, however, is unstructured. Unstructured data, such as text and images in a product catalog, doesn’t fit into pre-defined data models. These can be challenging to process without AI.

When businesses solely rely on well-organized, structured data for analytical insights and decision-making, it’s only helpful to a certain point. Since most data sits unused and unorganized in company databases, organizations are missing out. Businesses that take advantage of both structured and unstructured, sometimes called “noisy” data, gain significantly more information about purchasing patterns, customer behavior, and product demand. With AI, no data’s too messy to process.

Advancements in machine learning and deep learning AI allow models to process vast amounts of unstructured, noisy data that would otherwise be inaccessible. Because deep learning models are so advanced, distributors don’t have to worry about their data being too messy – AI can cut through the noise to make advanced predictions and improve the customer experience.

The Importance of Omnichannel Analytics

Distributors often operate across multiple channels that remain disconnected from each other as data collects. Because of that, data ends up scattered between marketing, sales, customer service, and eCommerce channels. Unfortunately, even with the help of deep learning models, analytics from a single channel can only do so much.

Inside sales reps know when a customer is ready to reorder, eCommerce teams know what the customer frequently looks at online, and customer service reps know the last time that customer had a problem and needed a refund. Imagine how much more effective a team could be if they had access to all of this information instead of only the data they work with personally.

Distributors can make their data actionable and gain a comprehensive understanding of each account by gathering and analyzing information across every channel and customer touchpoint.

Deep learning models designed specifically for distributors can utilize omnichannel analytics to process online and offline information from every department. Omnichannel analytics improve the quantity and quality of actionable data. Customer-facing team members can be more effective and consultative, and executives can see big-picture insights and projections to make smarter business decisions.

Why Does Actionable Data Matter?

Actionable data enables distributors to make better predictions, more intelligent business decisions, and improve the customer experience. Distributors are uniquely positioned to utilize deep learning models since they have so much data available.

AI in business is growing and could potentially create $5.8 trillion in value annually across 19 industries in the coming years. Actionable data plays a significant role in AI’s market value.

According to a recent Deloitte study, most respondents (66%) viewed AI as a critical component of their success. Many distributors are already using this technology to help them grow and compete against online marketplaces. It would be impossible to get the most from your data without AI.

Actionable data uncovered with the help of AI can:

  • Identify customer purchasing patterns
  • Generate predictions about future demand
  • Help sales reps understand their customers’ needs to make highly relevant upsell, cross-sell, and add-on recommendations
  • Provide comprehensive company insights to C-level management
  • Help businesses be more productive and efficient while boosting profits and customer lifetime value

Distributors are the perfect use case for AI. With so many channels to pull data from and years of transaction histories, deep learning models can easily create actionable insights for B2B companies.

Unfortunately, this means that B2B businesses that don’t invest in making their data actionable are at a distinct disadvantage to those that do. Investing in artificial intelligence will help you improve operations, create a better customer journey, and transform your business into a data-driven powerhouse.

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