With 65 employees and an annual turnover of 15 million euros, aluminium company Blommaert is active worldwide in a unique niche market: aluminium and (stainless) steel constructions for ships and mobile industrial roofs. It’s a market with a future, as a private investment group bought into the family business in 2013. The numbers clearly look good.
These figures have been presented in the BrightAnalytics platform since the end of 2014. All financial and operative data are collected and displayed clearly. Although CEO Tom Blommaert, who took over the company from his father in 2005, attaches great importance to doing business based on gut-feeling, the analytical figures have now become the basis for him as well. “At the start, you base decisions on fingerspitzengefühl, but if you want to do business professionally and sensibly, you also have to look at the numbers. Especially if investors are involved.”
Not a day goes by without Tom consulting the platform. Other managers and salespeople also have access to the system, whether limited or not. “Although you don’t need a manual, new software always takes some getting used to. The more you use it, however, the better you know the system and the greater the possibilities become.” At Blommaert, numbers and statistics are combined and selected endlessly. From turnover figures to gross margins, from personnel costs and stock inventory to insurance costs. “It’s very flexible. You choose how far you go in it. Moreover, you can adjust a lot yourself, without doing things wrong – because you just can’t afford to do that with numbers.” That said, according to the director, data analytics is still in its infancy and the possibilities will continue to grow in the near future. “For example: for retail I think the opportunities are huge. With one click you have a complete overview of products, locations, and you name it.”
Now that the company has insight into all its data, investments can basically be planned based on predictions. Yet this is not the case with Blommaert: “We work in a project business. Our monthly figures do not always give the right picture. We only produce what has been ordered. Forecasts based on the past are always relative for us. A lot can change in the short term, for example due to new legislation. Figures are a great help, but you can’t afford to be blinded by them either.”
Tom learned about BrightAnalytics at the suggestion of the investment group that bought into the company in 2013. Whether he would have taken the step to data analysis on his own is doubtful at the very least. “Bespoke packages always cost a lot of effort, time and money and at the end of the day they can rarely live up to expectations.” Fortunately, BrightAnalytics was the exception. “I’m being serious: for me, this is the only software that both does what it promises and stays within budget. I have yet to discover the first error message.”