/ Forget volume and variety, focus on velocity (Part 2)

Fried pickles spur a quick, data-driven decision

Recently, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers found it needed to make a quick decision on a new limited-time offer—its tasty fried pickles. Throughout the year, the fast-growing restaurant chain features various limited-time offers such as special burgers, custards, or appetizers that run for 6-8 weeks. The company rolled out a new fried pickle offering, which had a decent response in its Kansas test market but was nothing out of the ordinary. Typically, a limited-time offer will spike in sales over the first two weeks and then drop off significantly as the novelty wears off.

However, Freddy’s was surprised to discover in its new data platform (Domo) that sales of the fried pickles were doubling across all of its locations after only the first couple of days. After double- and triple-checking the data, Freddy’s IT Manager Sean Thompson realized his company would be in a real pickle (sorry, I couldn’t resist) if it didn’t quickly embrace the new offering’s surging popularity. Freddy’s management team made the quick decision to turn fried pickles into a regular menu item, which meant securing a more robust supply of pickles from its distributors and featuring the product more prominently in Freddy’s social media campaigns. By the time positive feedback poured in from its restaurant owners about the fried pickles, the company was already ahead of potential supply problems that had been an issue in the past. More importantly, Freddy’s valued guests could enjoy the popular side dish without interruption.

Real-time data requires agile execution

Real-time data is only as helpful as your ability to execute on it quickly. While high-velocity decision making is important, fast execution is equally critical. Many organizations experience costly delays when the downstream processes and systems are slow and rigid. For example, a high-tech firm discovered it had a technical issue with its online checkout process where using a particular payment option caused a customer’s entire shopping cart to be emptied. Rather than quickly addressing this poor user experience, it took the company nine months to fix the issue due to bureaucratic IT processes and inflexible backend systems. If speed matters to your business, you’re going to need to iron out these kinds of issues that can limit your organization’s ability to respond to insights in a timely fashion. You must create an agile business environment where data insights can thrive—not stumble.
Today, executives place a heavy emphasis on having real-time key performance indicators (KPIs) at their fingertips. However, what good is minute-by-minute updates to these metrics, if your organization takes weeks to make decisions and then months to implement any needed changes? Instead, real-time KPIs must be combined with high-velocity decision making and agile execution. Following the example of companies like Amazon and Freddy’s, data-driven success will be increasingly defined by how organizations turn real-time data into real-time decisions and actions.

**This article was originally published on Forbes.com on June 28, 2017.