A distinguished fashion brand with hundreds of stores in North America is using the Koivu Value Flow Cloud to plan its sales campaigns. Previously, the chain used only Microsoft Excel to plan its sales campaigns, which created many challenges including pricing mistakes.
The so-called Amazon effect has markedly changed retail competition in many countries in recent years. The ability of Amazon and other online retailers to change prices fast has affected the entire marketplace. Brick and mortar stores experience it as a challenge because they usually use very traditional IT systems for pricing and sales campaign planning. These systems do not match today’s demands for various pricing models and general agility.
This often leads to a situation where a process is created outside enterprise systems with tools such as Excel. Even if such an “Excel process” may be usable, it causes delays and errors and is tied to one person. If that person is, for example, out sick the process can stall altogether.
Koivu’s solution digitizes the process, automates the workflow, and eliminates human errors in data entry. Campaign planning no longer requires the manual input of previously approved discounts from one system to the next because the Koivu solution transfers the data automatically from Excel. Also, the user interfaces of rigid traditional enterprise systems do not stand in the way of changing prices quickly.
Koivu Value Flow Cloud also manages data tracking and change history. User actions are limited by user roles but Excel can still be used as a tool for data creation, gathering, review, and confirmation.
Koivu Solutions, together with its North American partner, implemented the project on a fast timeline at the beginning of 2019. Configuration, integration, and deployment took three months in its entirety. User feedback has been glowing – we can say that for the first time an enterprise system actually delights its users.
With business constantly changing, the enterprise software landscape becomes spotted with “white spaces” that are filled by isolated Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
TEXT BY KARI KUISTI, IMAGE BY VIA RAMSTÉN
More and more companies are trying to rid themselves of Excel spreadsheets because of their vulnerability.
– Excel spreadsheets pose major issues for companies because they generate manual processes. Excel files are usually tied to one person, which causes additional headaches for digitalization, says Koivu Solutions Oy co-founder, Sami Lahti.
The company’s founders have been trying to kill off Excel for more than 20 years, unsuccessfully. Now, they’ve tackled it from a different angle by developing a tool that enables the universally used spreadsheet program to operate seamlessly in enterprise processes, automation and integration.
– The Koivu solution enables the user to continue using Excel, yet the company’s IT systems see a clear interface and structured data.
According to Lahti, the Koivu Value Flow Cloud solution enables Excel users to work just like they have in the past, yet the data they create gets stored on the cloud making data immediately available to all other systems. This makes the entire arsenal of cloud services available from computing power and analysis tools to machine learning.
Cloud opened the gates
Janne Salmi, also a co-founder of Koivu Solutions, says cloud services reduce costs and accelerate operations.
– Koivu’s solution makes Excel-based processes more transparent, faster and much more efficient. Deployment is easy because users can continue using the familiar Excel and, if they wish, also use Koivu’s mobile and web interfaces, Salmi emphasizes.
All Koivu Solutions founders have vast experience in developing and implementing enterprise software to support enterprise processes – they’ve been working the industry since the early 1990s.
Koivu also has experience in the United States where the company operates in addition to Finland.
– Straight out of the gate we positioned ourselves as a global company and today most of our projects are on American soil, Salmi says.
Customers in several industries
Koivu’s current client companies operate in the manufacturing, retail, and services industries. For example, a well-known American fashion brand uses the Koivu VFC solution to plan their sales campaigns. Their pricing analysts manage the creation of campaigns for 300 brand stores in the US and Canada. Salmi says the user experience has been great.
– Users love our solution. The Koivu application accelerated campaign planning by 80 percent while reducing pricing errors by 90%, Salmi sums up.
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