Analytics In The Raw

A recent trip to Asia yielded some creative uses for analytics, served up by Qlik.

Sushi Restaurant

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Last month I toured Asia, visiting the region’s largest financial services organizations. I was continually amazed by the scale and pervasiveness at which they had been empowered by analytics using Qlik throughout their operations. Asia’s strongest financial services companies are evolving from production of dated, static, manual reports to building analytical applications helping improve their business each and every day. In addition to drawing insights not possible through traditional reporting and BI tools, customers often reported savings in the 100's of hours in wasted productivity whilst reducing operational risk and key person dependencies. This had enabled them to mobilize staff, their biggest asset, from reporting factories to true business partners, identifying new opportunities and risks in an ever competitive market.  

Highlights of the tour included:

  • Learning about new instances of bank-wide liquidity and capital adequacy modelling. This is an incredibly complex and critical task for banks, by which all bank assets and liabilities are modeled to test the strength and liquidity of their balance sheets. Regular external reporting to regulators was mandated in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Sales effectiveness of insurance distribution networks, where insurers are able to provide embedded analytics to their agent and broker portals, to provide sales and performance insights to their distribution networks.
  • Meeting Donald McDonald of OCBC, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, whose team won The Asian Banker Award for Best Data & Analytics Initiative. The award drew attention to his Center of Excellence, embedding a culture of insight-based decision-making and deploying a staggering 60 Qlik dashboards within six months of launch.
  • Westpac Bank’s innovative use of Qlik to provide Australia’s largest institutions with a web-based dashboard to help tightly manage their balance sheet and improve working capital.

But perhaps the most intriguing use of Qlik was revealed to me whilst dining at a popular sushi chain in downtown Tokyo.  My wonder begun as the table near us finished their meal.  Rather than tally the colored plates manually, the waitress waved a wand across the table, which automatically tallied the plates, displaying the bill immediately.  Seeing my amazement, further gold was revealed. The chain is visited by a staggering 120 million diners per year (the population of Japan) during which time more than one billion dishes travel around the sushi train.  Each plate is embedded with an RFC chip, enabling analytics.  The chain prides itself on freshness, with dishes only doing a few laps before being removed.  

Qlik has been employed to discover the optimal balance between revenue and minimizing waste, by tracking the ideal dishes to serve throughout the day.  Qlik was also used to debunk a myth that serving a popular pudding dish for desert lead to maximizing profit.  During some experiments, pudding items were reduced and replaced with tuna. Diners continued dining on the tuna fish (a higher margin item).  The long held belief that pudding was a must was actually proven false, with analytics: increasing the sushi chain’s margins. True analytics in the raw.

Photo credit: Thierry Draus / Foter / CC BY

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