Business challenge

To drive sales, Conestoga aims to maintain optimal inventory levels to meet demand for its made-to-order products. How could it gain insight into the most popular combinations of product attributes?

Transformation

Conestoga accelerated its reporting processes with an IBM Analytics solution—enabling it to stock the optimal quantities of each product attribute and service B2B customer orders effectively.

Results

790x

faster analysis delivers deep insights in seconds

Helps

predict customer preferences based on sales data

Optimizes

stock levels and drives sales

Business challenge story

Targeting deeper insights into customer preferences

For manufacturers with long lead times, anticipating customer demand accurately can make the difference between capturing incremental sales and tying up capital in unsaleable stock. Conestoga Wood Specialties, America’s leading supplier of custom cabinet doors and components, wanted to ensure it could stock the optimal quantities of its raw materials—but achieving this goal created new analytics challenges.

“IBM Analytics is helping us to forecast seasonal demand more accurately based on past patterns.”

—Karen Loose, Business Process Manager, Conestoga Wood Specialties

For 15 years, the company had relied on IBM® Cognos® Analytics solutions running on IBM i to drive its reporting processes across the business. The company realized that its historical sales data contained valuable insights into future market demand, and wanted a powerful analytics platform to deliver the high performance it needed to achieve this goal.

David Mosher, Business Intelligence Manager at Conestoga Wood Specialties, explains: “In recent years, analytics has exploded in popularity in our business. In fact, our existing IBM Analytics platform empowered so many people to write and utilize reports that bottlenecks had developed, slowing performance and limiting our ability to run new reports.”

To extract the full business benefit of its historical sales data, the company realized that it needed to mine large datasets to reveal statistical purchasing patterns. This insight would enable it to develop accurate models and identify B2B customer preferences for the coming business cycle.

By aligning its manufacturing plans with these forecasts, Conestoga was confident that it could capture incremental sales and minimize the risk of investing resources in less popular product attributes. With its existing analytics platform nearing capacity, the company set out to find a solution to meet its reporting needs.

“Our IBM Premier Business Partner Micro Strategies demonstrated the tangible benefits of the IBM PureData solution through a compelling—and astonishingly quick—proof-of-concept exercise.”

—David Mosher, Business Intelligence Manager, Conestoga Wood Specialties

Transformation story

Lightning-fast analytics platform

To solve this challenge, Conestoga selected IBM PureData® System for Analytics—a high-performance analytics appliance designed to optimize the performance of data warehouses.

“Our IBM Premier Business Partner Micro Strategies demonstrated the tangible benefits of the IBM PureData solution through a compelling—and astonishingly quick—proof-of-concept exercise,” recalls David Mosher. “In just one week, the Micro Strategies team showed us how processes that currently took hours could be completed in just minutes or even seconds.”

Conestoga, working with Micro Strategies, replaced its IBM i platform with IBM PureData System for Analytics. Fully integrated into the company’s back-end systems for manufacturing and sales using IBM InfoSphere® Change Data Delivery, the solution means that reporting bottlenecks are now a thing of the past.

Mosher comments: “We had a batch of reports that would take over an hour to complete every day. Now it is consistently done in a minute. I look at that process every day and still struggle to believe it because I know how much is going on behind the scenes. After years and years of data management, seeing a solution like this at work is simply incredible.”

“We had a batch of reports that would take over an hour to complete every day. Now it is consistently done in a minute.”

—David Mosher, Business Intelligence Manager, Conestoga Wood Specialties

Conestoga is now experiencing analytics performance improvements across the board. Generating audit reports can now be completed in as little as five seconds, more than 790 times faster than before.

Similarly, reports on open customer orders can be completed up to 256 times faster. With this enhanced analytics performance, the company has gained the all-important headroom it needs to build deep predictive analytics capabilities.

Results story

Predictive analytics to capture customer demand

With IBM PureData System for Analytics driving its reporting processes, Conestoga can use more than five years of historical sales data to perform sophisticated forecasting and prediction.

By equipping its decision-makers with rapid insights, Conestoga can determine which combinations of its product attributes are likely to be popular in the coming business cycle, and optimize its inventory levels accordingly.

Karen Loose, Business Process Manager at Conestoga Wood Specialties, says: “Our IBM Analytics solution enables us to utilize our data and expertise in an aggressive, proactive and analytical way. With our IBM platform, we can forecast future trends and seasonal demand more accurately based on past patterns.”

Conestoga is now in a stronger position than ever to feed the ever-growing appetite for analytics within the business. Mosher adds: “Our IBM Analytics solution is helping us to distribute key reports rapidly, which in turn improves the way we do business.”

Loose concludes: “IBM has truly transformed our analytical capabilities. Today, we can align our manufacturing schedules and sales forecasts more closely, which enables us to better optimize our inventory levels and labor commitments.”

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About Conestoga Wood Specialties

Founded in 1964, Conestoga Wood Specialties is America’s leading supplier of custom cabinet doors and wood components for the kitchen and bath industry. Headquartered in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Conestoga employs over 1,100 dedicated craftsmen across five locations in North America.

Take the next step

Using its extensive business process and IT expertise, Micro Strategies deploys innovative technology to deliver business results. Its consultative customer-centric approach allows it to create cost effective end-to-end solutions, from infrastructure to line-of-business applications for companies across a range of industries. To find out more, visit microstrat.com. IBM Analytics offers one of the world’s deepest and broadest analytics platform, domain and industry solutions that deliver new value to businesses, governments and individuals. For more information about how IBM Analytics helps to transform industries and professions with data, visit ibm.com/analytics. Follow us on Twitter at @IBMAnalytics, on our blog at ibmbigdatahub.com and join the conversation #IBMAnalytics.

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