Spot Icebergs In The Fog

The concept of an executive "dashboard" is not new. Desktop dashboards are widely utilized in industries like financial services, and they’re standard in digitally native companies. An eBay category manager, for example, may have desktop or even mobile app real-time displays of the category’s auction listings, completed transactions, seller ratings, possible fraud alerts, and other fundamental, current indicators of the health of that trading platform. If there is an anomaly, the dashboard sends an alarm.

In manufacturing companies, plant managers may have dashboards indicating whether various systems are operational, the status of orders in process, and read-outs from devices that monitor safety conditions. But wherever they’re used, dashboards often are limited to a given manager’s scope of authority. The eBay manager for collectibles, for example, probably is not monitoring the electronic component listings.

The Inxeption platform represents a different way to think about dashboards: It breaks down hierarchies and silos. Inxeption offers real-time dashboards tracking all key metrics--orders, online customers, shipment tracking, supply status, and customer service interactions. And the same screens are displayed everywhere in the company. What we’ve found is that the more eyes looking at real-time data, the sooner problems and opportunities are identified and action is taken.

Let’s go back to the bike paint company example. Let’s call it Colorwheel Inc. Colorwheel marketers realize the desert endurance bike race market is growing. Among other demands, bike makers need paints that stand up to extremely hot temperatures and strong sun. It sends representatives to source paints that are known to hold up in high temperatures.

Colorwheel adds this option to its product portfolio. It buys the paint chemicals in bulk and mixes and packages six colors of paints. Using Inxeption, it promotes the product online by buying ad words like "extreme condition metal paints" and "premium bike components and materials."

From the shop floor to the accounting department, all employees immediately notice a real-time uptick in customers interested in ordering these paints, because they’re finding Colorwheel and they’re clicking on the new links. The first insight is interest seems very high. But by day two it’s clear that before ordering, many customers seem to be asking the same question through customer chat: "Do you have statistics on how this paint has performed on the alloy used on frames for X bike?"

The marketing department sees this data, and so does the purchasing agent who found the chemicals to product the paint. Each reacts: The agent sends marketing the specs customers are asking about, then marketing adds a link on Inxeption to those specs so customers can find that information easily on the first Colorwheel page that talks about the new paints. Together these managers from different parts of the company quickly remove a potential point of friction and delay.

The Inxeption platform offers executives constantly updating data tuned for the specific business, typically basic measures such as: online sales and order tracking, plant output, shipping progress, return processing, and status of supply chain deliveries. But it also integrates metrics that track data about customers, such as their geographic distribution, their preferred shipping and payment methods, most popular products, the most profitable orders. It can be set to flag unusual volume or other variations off historic buying patterns; it can be set to flag spikes in returns or customer complaints.

The system also can flag elements from different parts of the business that may be headed for conflict, such as a large customer order that now is in jeopardy for on-time delivery due to a notification that a shipment of components has been delayed. In the past, that information may have gone to a purchasing representative who then may have spent time calling the supplier, discussing other options, and essentially sitting on the information for some period of time. With Inxeption, when this issue appears it attracts parallel responses from customer service, the warehouse, and company executives who may need to shift orders around or make a direct call to the customer.

Here’s a true story of a new product opportunity the Inxeption dashboard flagged: Noribachi sells a specific lighting system that tends to be hard-wired into an electrical box. One day, CEO Rhonda Dibachi, was reviewing a customer complaint that what is called a "pigtail," or a cord with a plug on the end, was not included in the customer’s order. She knew Noribachi didn’t sell pigtails and she knew the product description for the product this customer purchased did not include any reference to a pigtail. Rhonda personally reached out to the customer and apologized for the confusion. Next, she sent a note to the webmaster to make it clearer in the product description that the system was designed for hard-wiring and did not include a pigtail.

But then she asked her product group to source pigtails and run a test. Inxeption offered customers ordering the system an option to add a pigtail to the order. "We started selling a lot of pigtails," she explains. "This product wasn’t designed to be wired that way, but we learned people had been going to the local ACE Hardware or Home Depot and getting that accessory because they wanted to wire it like this. Now, we also get that sale and more customers are even happier."

In so many companies, this kind of feedback may never reach the CEO, or may be one of 100 items in a summary from a customer service department reported quarterly. With Inxeption, real-time feedback is like caffeine for the whole company. You get actionable data fast. And once you start listening to customers directly, good things happen.

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