How Cloud BI can send you (your favorite) biscuits

A biscuit's data journey

Every Friday morning, on my way to work, I stop at a local store in Montpellier and buy my favorite biscuits: a pack of Britain’s finest Rich Tea. Now, don't start the debate whether these are for eating solo or 'dunking', or if a rich tea is a 'one dip’ or a ‘two dip’ - it's always tea and biscuits for me. But  as I was enjoying the last of my English biscuits in my French town last Friday I got to think of its journey, from factory to warehouse to truck to ship to truck to warehouse to store to shelves and, finally, my cart. An epic journey made easy - if you know how. 

This is the case for Ramsden International, a BIME customer in the grocery exports industry based in the north of England. For Ramsden International, cloud BI represents the solution that can show the real-time data behind their worldwide deliveries. The nature of grocery supply is changing at a rate similar to that of the technology environment and new types of consumers define it. They could be pre-sumers with local or seasonal customized demands, on-the-go consumers who want to find their favorite groceries wherever they travel, or even ‘pride-sumers’, buying national products to support their country’s production - all of these new consumers are generating challenges as well as opportunities to diversify the range of products available, and the delivery methods used to transport them. As Seth Godin says in his ‘Tribes’ theory, it is not only the online revolution that has created (niche) communities, but also a consumer’s ever-changing tastes that are generating new market segments. The growing globalization of food brands and increasingly cosmopolitan tastes changed the market. These new segments have to be understood in order to cater to their needs.

The youniverse around us

We live in an expectation economy, and this transformation of how the grocery industry is perceived is part of an even bigger trend - the youniverse, a concept [1] that makes consumers central to their own experience. In this context, for Ramsden International, cloud BI was the clear answer to make use of their continual flow of valuable data in order to identify delivery and consumption patterns. Analyzing these patterns through BIME, Ramsden International plans to use the application to deliver the right information to its management as well as to track KPIs, better define product segments, and do in-depth customer analysis. This mix was the decisive aspect that convinced Mike Leaning, Head of IS at Ramsden International, to choose BIME over many leading BI vendors as his BI solution of choice.

Through the power of cloud BI, IT is now an active chain-link in the entire sales process and BIME enabled us to have an impact in real-time.
— Mike Leaning, Head of IS, Ramsden International

Ramsden International has been part of a family group of retail and wholesale businesses since 1946 - their original store still exists! More than that, Ramsden International launched its exporting arm in the 1970s, a fact that speaks volumes for their heritage and expertise. As an  exporter of British food  sending popular brands directly from the UK to retailers, distributors and importers worldwide, Ramsden International is delivering an ever-increasing range of more than 22,000 products (with a myriad of categories and subcategories) to 120 countries worldwide. However, Ramsden International does more than just supply groceries. The company  offers product support and merchandising advice, as well as dealing with compliance documentation for exports. The result of this complex activity is that the amount of data they gather is huge, and the insights they can extract form a strong basis for their diversified expertise.

Mike Leaning says that Ramsden International had a wealth of information locked into their systems but no real way for the regular business user to take advantage of it. The company had a few specialists who could mine the data but they were becoming overwhelmed by requests. It was clear that there was a need to find a tool that could put up-to-date data in front of the right people. Giving them the right information at the right time was essential for business.

The Grimsby-based company started exploring BI with BIME about a year ago. Before testing cloud BI, pulling together timely information from disparate systems was complicated and time-consuming; management reporting was a snapshot taken at a fixed point in time rather than a live view.

As a company working internationally, we wanted a system that could share information (pulled from many millions of lines of data) with our sales teams as they travelled the globe.
— Mike Leaning, Head of IS, Ramsden International

Mike’s team tested everything: the BIME UI and UX in order to understand how business users in the company could smoothly start using the tool; the cost model adapted to the amount of data that the company would want to load; the variety and usability of connectors to on-premise and online data sources. Last but not least, the readiness of BIME’s support team to help to apply cloud BI to a very particular industry. BIME passed with flying colors. More than that, Mike considers that it was not only about the immediate advantages, but also the fact that “using BIME has allowed the company to understand and re-evaluate its requirements and how it will implement BI in the future”.

Due to Mike’s project development, the company is now ready to go live with the first series of reports through collaborative dashboards that will be distributed to board-level users, salespeople, customer services, marketing and commercial development team members, making Ramsden International a data-driven network of people and departments who can collaborate and develop processes in real time.

In the context of changing market needs and the growth of new business opportunities in emerging markets, having a permanent connection to the company’s data and being able to measure company performance is of vital importance.
— Mike Leaning, Head of IS, Ramsden International

Let’s go back for a moment to the biscuit’s journey. Just looking at the list their in-house logistics specialists follow for each delivery process shows that the journey from A to B is so complex that only a data-driven system in the cloud can ensure the needed flexibility and scalability for keeping high standards all the time. Transportation (by air, sea, and road), delivery method (to store, door-to-door), refrigeration, journey length, food-miles, shelf life, national export documentation requirements - and the list goes on. Cloud BI does not only enable Ramsden International to have fast reporting, but represents the basis of performance analysis.

Ramsden International is ready to get ahead of all these trends. As cloud BI is changing BI itself from mere reporting to actionable analytics, Mike Leaning believes that performance and project management analysis will become possible through BIME:

We don’t believe in displaying information for information’s sake, we’re trying to make each metric something that can work, drive change and improve efficiencies for the benefit of our customers.
— Mike Leaning, Head of IS, Ramsden International

This is how the youniverse works - and Ramsden International know that because of the way they analyze data through cloud BI. Mike Leaning expects that by using BIME his team will be able to assist senior management to keep their finger on the pulse of the company’s business and drive appropriate change. Moreover, that the new solution will enable efficiencies within the customer service team, and, last but not least, that the company will be able to communicate market trends on products for its customers. In this way, the company has every chance of being on top of the next revolution in grocery delivery: recommerce - enabling consumers to unlock the value of their past acquisitions by anticipating needs and consumption patterns [2].

With a budgeted sales of more than £50m and a worldwide network, Ramsden International is set to use its brand heritage of understanding its customers as well as new data-driven tools to dive deep into customer and market trends, being able to understand that the last biscuit in my Rich Tea pack has always been more than a biscuit, and that I would search for it wherever I go in the world.

[1] as defined by

[2] as defined by