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Zel Bianco | CEO | Interactive Edge

Interactive Edge: Leveraging BI to Enhance Sales Processes in a Dynamic Way.

Advanced retail experience is changing the outlook of the sales vertical. Digitization has shown us how businesses can transform quickly and swiftly. As the technological advancements take new turns, the dynamics of serving customers right from their first step through the door has become quite complex, yet simple with the availability and deployment of the right tools.

Identifying these tools and implementing them at the right time is the key to a successful retail solution integration. Interactive Edge is one such company focused on enabling optimum collaboration between the manufacturer and retailer when it comes to enhancing the sales process.

Interactive Edge is a leader in data analysis and presentation software for streamlining the retail selling process, Category Management, and related disciplines. Interactive Edge solutions are used by some of the world’s largest Consumer Goods Companies including Ace Hardware, Church and Dwight, Danone, Kellogg’s, Jack Links, and Pepsi Cola. Interactive Edge’s headquarters are in New York City.

We started with the idea that sales organizations were starting to utilize laptops for customer presentations using multimedia, slides, product animations, video, and more,” says the team at Interactive Edge. The company leveraged its talented staff of programmers, client service staff and animators to help companies like Colgate-Palmolive, J&J and Nestle introduce their new products to the retail customer. Typically, the presentations were heavily brand focused and included small amounts of data. Interactive Edge’s team is responsible for building the retail selling presentation for Colgate Total Toothpaste which to this day is their most successful new item launch to date.

“We believe our brand facilitating our message of ‘ease of use’ is now being recognized as critical for greater efficiency and ways of working remotely”

With current projects, Interactive Edge works with the client’s team to determine what type of implementation would be most appropriate to accomplish the goals and objectives of the organization. Interactive Edge’s team reviews the specific requirements and expectations from an XP3 implementation, specifically the expected business benefits, the scope of the proposed solution and the resources and skill sets required for the project, as well as the customer’s IT infrastructure, hardware, and software requirements.

Then, the team requests some sample data and content. With XP3, a set of business intelligence tools, the company gives business users the ability to leverage virtually effectively and efficiently any data to create, distribute and apply best practice analytics in data-driven PowerPoint presentations and Microsoft Excel reports. XP3 Data Workshop allows users to easily load their Nielsen, IRI, SPINS and other data sets.

With XP3 Data Integrator, users can define mapping, integration, and roll ups of multiple data sources into a single data source for displaying data at various product hierarchy levels. “Our cloud service, XP3 BI Cloud allows users to view finished PowerPoint presentations and Excel reports online and dynamically change the geography and timeperiod to be retailer specific,” states Zel Bianco, CEO of Interactive Edge.

XP3 reduces the time needed to prep, align, and integrate virtually any data including Syndicated, POS, Panel, Shopper, EDI, and Shipment data, then automates the process of generating retailer-specific, data-driven PowerPoint and Excel output. Clients can take the best in thought leadership and easily share the resulting best practices presentations with the field, providing a thorough, cohesive presentation that reflects the values and strategies of headquarters.

Interactive Edge is also recognized for providing stellar service and support and best practice guidance in using data sources to generate category and shopper insights along with actionable recommendations for better retailer collaboration between retailers and consumer goods manufacturers.

“We have embraced the cloud, with XP3® BI Cloud™, best in class category management presentations are accessed by end users and customized to each retail customer and ready to download or present via the web,” says Zel. The team at Interactive Edge continues to develop connections through API’s to be able to connect directly to popular data warehouses and are always adding new features to XP3 BI Cloud to make it even more valuable to its client base.

In a recent webinar hosted by the Category Management Association and Shopper Insights Management Association in October, Interactive Edge in collaboration with Kellogg’s discussed how to deliver an agile and nimble approach to enhance retail customer collaboration. The panel included Zel and Tom Wozbut – Director, Category Management Analytics from the Kellogg Company. The duo put some points across regarding the consumers’ changing behaviors which resulted in roadblocks to the supply chain where the manufacturers were pushed to adopt agile technological solutions.

Along with that, some discussion underwent regarding Covid-19 and its impact on the store operations, sudden and mass out of stock condition, customers’ enhancing capabilities to grasp the power of e- commerce, and pressure points like sanitation, etc.

According to the statistics, 93% of the collaborators believe that virtual communication with retailers is going to prevail for a long time. “XP3 BI Cloud allows us to take advantage of this trend,” says Tom Wozbut.

A Dynamic Leadership

The team at Interactive Edge along with Zel introduced XP3 BI Cloud in 2019, which allows customers to have one version of the truth so that a professional, standardized, and consistent strategy and message can be accessed quickly and easily by sales. XP3 BI Cloud is being used very effectively by clients like Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Church & Dwight, etc. As technology evolves, the size, need and use of multiple data sources increased and the need to keep it simple for business users did as well.

“We have been actively working on partnerships which includes being a Nielsen Connected Partner as well as 1010 Data to name just a few,” shares Zel. The company is also building upon its existing capabilities to include emerging technologies such as tabular data structures, e-commerce data, etc. It is actively building out standard templates so clients can better understand how they are doing in both brick and mortar and ecommerce.

Zel and his team have increased the use of web conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams to meet and collaborate with clients. Interactive Edge’s clients use its XP3 BI Cloud solution to access and share data driven reports and presentations that are developed to help sales teams become more comfortable with data analytics and streamline their preparation of data driven presentations to their retail buyers.

Zel started his career in the advertising industry at large ad agencies including Young & Rubicam where he worked on both Consumer Package Goods accounts as well as technology accounts such as IBM. Zel handled portions of the IBM account at two agencies over the course of six years. Wanting to be an entrepreneur, he decided to start Interactive Edge along with, Cynthia Carnesi, who also came from the agency side, and another partner who led the technology side of the business.

Zel and his team became one of the first corporate members of the Category Management Association where IE has sponsored their annual conferences and, in most years, presented Intellectual Property breakout sessions with clients including Acosta, Nestle, Jack Links, Mars and Kellogg’s.

Zel and the IE team were also contributors to the Category Management 2.0 White paper and other Association whitepapers. He is on the Category Management Advisory Board at DePaul University along with major CPG companies and retailers. He has been a contributing Brain Trust member of RetailWire since it started. Zel has presented at many industry conferences including SAP and ECRM in Paris.

He believes that working with partners who are much larger and have hundreds of clients and have a need for Interactive Edge’s solutions, will contribute significantly to its ability to scale.