Electric avenue: Zero Motorcycles revs up S&OP with SaaS-ready BI

Zero Motorcycles is all about what’s changing—from its patented battery technology, electric bike design, and lightweight materials to its hybrid direct sales/independent reps go-to-market strategy. And just like its high-performance bikes, the two-year-old company is racing to add to the product line to extend market reach in 2009.<br/>

01/06/2009


Zero Motorcycles is all about what’s changing—from its patented battery technology, electric bike design, and lightweight materials to its hybrid direct sales/independent reps go-to-market strategy. And just like its high-performance bikes, the two-year-old company is racing to add to the product line to extend market reach in 2009.
It’s a goal that touches nearly every aspect of the business.
To succeed, says John Lloyd, VP of sales for the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based company, a dynamic business intelligence (BI) solution is coming into play to rapidly adapt to the demands of everyone in sales & marketing, as well as engineering and manufacturing.
“We design, manufacture, and deliver 100-percent electric motorcycles,” Lloyd states. “We shipped 200 units in 2008, and expect to ship 1,500 to 2,000 in 2009. We are preparing to scale massively in North America and Europe. If you look at our business model, it’s critical that we be just-in-time with data in terms of sales & operations planning and predictability so we don’t over-buy inventory or under-deliver on product. To do this, we must know past, present, and future trends—and get that information quickly to marketing and manufacturing, and even engineering.”


John Lloyd, VP of sales for Zero Motorcycles, says business intelligence within the Cloud9 data warehouse is enabling the electric bike manufacturer to automatically monitor changes in data structures and accommodate changes in user requests on-the-fly.

Zero Motorcycles is using Cloud9 Analytics , a BI tool and intelligent data warehouse that takes advantage of the benefits of cloud computing in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
“We recognized right away the need for a tool to augment our Salesforce.com CRM systems,” Lloyd says. “The challenge was managing the process between the book date and the ship date, and then knowing what changed in between. Cloud9 makes it easy for us to take a snapshot and present it in one lens.”
Cloud9 is distinctive among BI solutions in delivering an intelligent data warehouse in the cloud.
“One of the challenges of tracking the performance of your sales organization is in knowing what’s changed,” says Rob Bois, a director with Boston-based AMR Research . “IT has to be heavily involved in that process to get the right information [to the people who want to see it.] In-house BI tools typically are very IT-heavy, especially if users want to tweak or customize the data structure.”
Intelligence within the Cloud9 data warehouse cuts the complexity by being able to automatically monitor changes in data structures and accommodate changes in user requests on-the-fly.
“BI is more of a data management problem than a tools issue,” says Swayne Hill, CEO, Cloud9. “Our goal is to bring the best of BI as it’s been traditionally known, but without the cost and complexity. We eliminated a lot of the complexity by solving a number of interesting data management problems.”
For example, CRM solutions show only a current status view. “We’re able to take a nightly snapshot of Salesforce.com data and accumulate a history of what’s changed,” says Hill. “That gives our customers leading indicators about their businesses so they can respond, focusing on what’s most important.”
“Marketing is always eager to know what is selling, and engineering wants to know what else they can add to attract more customers,” Lloyd says. Cloud9, he explains, has proven ready and able to easily answer the tough questions about what’s changed—and do it as quickly as the questions change.





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