Axminister Tools and Machinery Case Study.

“The new Business Intelligence and data analytics platform has been critical in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We would not have been able to track the shift in demand and maintain the supply chain for the different product lines without it. We’ve been able to respond rapidly to changing situations and identify trends that would have previously been missed. At both a Board level and an operational level, the company is excited about future growth now we all have access to a 360-degree view of our data. There are lightbulb moments pretty much every day as we learn more and more from our data.”

Damion Norcombe, Chief Information Officer
Axminister Tools and Machinery.

Axminister Tools and Machinery is a UK supplier of quality tools, machinery and workshop consumables, comprising of over 17,000 product lines. A company that continues to innovate, there is an ever-increasing need for new data sources, further reports and dashboards.

Chief Information Officer Damion Norcombe turned to Clekt for additional expertise and experience to complement his small IT team, which would also provide extra resource and take the strain off their internal workload. Clekt was selected as a trusted supplier due to the company’s agile business model and a great rapport with the team at Axminster. Clekt’s support in data science and analytics along with their engineering consultancy services would help gain the insight needed for Axminster to constantly innovate and make data-driven decisions.

Axminster, like many businesses, was aware that it was not making the most of its most important asset – its data. The various business teams within the company use different source systems and this had created separate silos of data. The company was fully aware they needed a 360-degree view of all their data but found it difficult to decide which system was the master. The audit work Axminster did to ensure GDPR compliance highlighted data processing areas that could and should have been automated. 

Damion and his team knew that an independent Business Intelligence tool would provide an overview of all Axminster’s collective data. After talking to the team at Looker, a data platform company, it was clear they needed a third party to provide an integrated data layer to unlock hidden data and bring valuable insights to life.

Clekt delivered the underlying technology solution and the expert resources to provide an integrated data platform to power the Business Intelligence, data analytics reports and dashboards using Looker.

The implementation of the Clekt platform and Looker is in its early stages of development but already the feedback from the IT team and Business Analyst working on the project has been very positive. It has been particularly useful in response to COVID-19, allowing Axminster to shift their product focus in a timely manner. This was enabled by the rapid product reporting developed as a prototype as part of the roll-out of the Business Intelligence and Data Analytics platform. Without this additional reporting, Damion and his team would not have been able to produce reports in time to pivot the supply chain and respond to the sudden shifts in demand brought about by the pandemic. This highlights how having a single view of data can be so powerful in driving a business forward, especially during unprecedented global challenges like COVID-19.

The daily sales report was selected as the beta report. The report was well known within the business and it was critical to daily activities. Although the daily sales report was used to test the accuracy of the Clekt and Looker solution, it actually highlighted that there had been a fault in the original reporting which had been impacting sales figures.

The updates and drill down capability in the new daily sales report have been vital to the Director’s decisions when shifting their business model in response to the trading landscape which has evolved as a result of COVID-19. It has allowed teams to track the impact of the pandemic on international sales and drill down further to interrogate the impact on each country and territory into which Axminster sell. Previously, this would have only been possible through a labour-intensive process that would not have provided the information in a timely manner to take appropriate action.

The Business Intelligence and analytics solution has provided confidence in the consistency of data measurement and has demonstrated value and a positive shift in culture across multiple areas of the business. A key requirement of this project was to empower the whole business by giving everyone the ability to understand what the data was telling them. Business teams are now able to quickly build the reports relevant to the changing markets, without requiring technical expertise. This has created excitement and enthusiasm throughout the business and all the different teams want to build more and more reports to gain further insight. Data is now recognised as a company asset, not just something you collate.

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