Technology firm River Logic offers an advanced analytics platform to help its customers optimize their businesses end to end through prescriptive analytics. To make its platform more usable across organizations, enhance visualization, and build customer trust, River Logic deployed Microsoft Power BI Embedded. The firm gained world-class visualizations without spending time on development, plus enhancing its platform boosted customer efficiency and ROI.
Power of prescription
Consider your typical commodity trader. She needs to make significant trade decisions based on more than a gut feeling or standard rules. She needs to be able to make decisions based on a large body of variables, constraints, objectives, and business realities. With the many tradeoffs across her company’s value chain, it’s crucial that she use a form of analytics that not only prescribes her the best path forward, but lets her see how every decision might impact key performance objectives.
Business solutions firm River Logic goes beyond predictive analytics (which forecasts what may happen) to prescriptive analytics (which recommends actions a business should take). The firm offers optimization modelling and advanced scenario analysis to its customers for solving complex business problems, supporting faster, better decision making across a range of industries, including manufacturing, energy, mining, utilities, and government.
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Organizations use River Logic’s technology to model their end-to-end value chain, including areas such as sales, marketing, financial performance, operations, logistics, sourcing, and more. The firm moved its platform onto Microsoft Azure in 2015, a seamless transition that did not require River Logic partners and customers to do any retraining or retooling.
Enhanced visualization without development costs
In 2017, River Logic wanted to update its platform in Azure to ensure that business users could easily access and visualize data from optimizing dozens to thousands of scenarios—which historically was a black-box process to anyone besides data scientists. The firm sought to bring an application experience to customers that they could use to achieve widespread adoption of optimization-based prescriptive analytics across many use cases and non-technical roles in their organizations. And it knew that delivering a world-class scenario visualization and analysis experience within the platform was crucial to achieve this.
River Logic considered building its own visualization features, but it did not want to forgo any of its optimization modelling functionality or a great user experience. With Azure already in place, River Logic deployed Microsoft Power BI Embedded so its developers could focus on core platform needs instead of building, maintaining, and updating a data-visualization solution.
“We realized that if we used Power BI Embedded, we wouldn’t have to invest in building from scratch, which saved us a tremendous amount of time and effort,” says Peter Bull, Chief Technology Officer at River Logic. “Whether to ‘build versus buy’ is not a one-off decision—it impacts the developers continually.”
River Logic was able to quickly update its technology, and customers began using the visualizations almost immediately, making it easier for them to get answers. “With Power BI Embedded, we achieved a faster time-to-market because we minimized development effort and focused on creating core capabilities and high-quality inputs,” says Nari Viswanathan, Vice President of Product Management at River Logic. “With our small dev team, we couldn’t have made such quick progress without Power BI Embedded.”
Improved ROI for customers
One of River Logic’s customers is a Top 5 Global Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) company that manages several hundred brands globally, including thousands of SKUs. Despite the company’s achievements and its use of the full SAP suite and many other supply chain tools, it was unable to answer the question that plagues so many manufacturing companies: “Given latest demand and considering all our capacity, throughput, labor, and inventory pre-build constraints, as well as their impact on fixed and variable costs, what is the optimal production line for a given SKU per month?” The company needed a technology and process that balanced factory capabilities, capacity, and costs for a dynamic volume allocation at the lowest total network cost.
The River Logic solution simplified the problem by highlighting the most relevant inputs and outputs through its scenario-management user experience that relies on Power BI Embedded for highly detailed scenario analysis and visualization.
The Top 5 Global CPG company was able to move from a once-a-year planning cycle to a rolling monthly planning process. Before River Logic, planning time took several weeks; after, it decreased to one day. This drastic increase in efficiency helped improve the reaction time and quality of decisions when the company was faced with demand and cost volatility for that period. The company improved tactical decision making when unplanned events occurred, and furthered its strategic planning by guiding contract negotiations on procurement, labor, and transport. In addition to its enhanced decision-making agility, the Top 5 Global CPG company saw a radical initial savings in cost of goods.
“We’re helping our customers realize a much higher ROI with prescriptive analytics because we’re able to show key decision makers the best path forward,” says Shannon Kearns, Director of Marketing at River Logic. “Now, our customers don’t need to rely on a PhD or data scientist in order to run optimization scenarios or analyze the results. Thanks to Azure and Power BI Embedded, they have a familiar, interactive, and highly detailed user experience to see the ‘why and how’ of every optimization run.”
Increased trust and democratization
River Logic has achieved its goal of making its solutions more accessible for a variety of business users, which helps democratize prescriptive analytics. Providing a more comprehensible platform and more interactive experience ultimately builds customer trust.
When a commodity trader or other business user first hears about prescriptive analytics, she might not know exactly what that means, but she can understand the visualizations. Now, Power BI
Embedded visualizations and dashboards are the first things that the River Logic sales team shows potential customers in its initial demos, including different scenarios, real-time data charts, and improvements in performance.
“We’ve made Power BI Embedded an anchor to our sale cycles,” says Viswanathan. “It’s a friendlier way to introduce companies to the power of prescriptive analytics, and it’s been highly effective for connecting to customers and closing our deals.”