Standing tall to its mission, Interactive Edge has been helping consumer goods and their retail customer organizations improve productivity, enhance efficiency, and achieve brand consistency since 1996. Its passion for providing businesses with a solution that saves their time and fits into their current workflow has taken the company to great heights.
We at Insights Success caught up with Zel Bianco, the President and CEO of Interactive Edge, to learn more about the company and how it works to give people the power of data.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your company, its mission, and the key aspects of its strong foothold in the retail industry.
Our original mission was providing multimedia marketing software with the development of CMS-Pro® for field sales organizations that wanted to leverage laptop computers in their day-to-day selling activities.
Later as the amount of data grew and evolved, our customers asked that we add more capabilities into our software which resulted in the development of XP3®. XP3 is a set of business intelligence tools that are integrated with Microsoft Office® and provide Category analysts and other business users the ability to quickly, efficiently, and effectively leverage multiple data sources to create, distribute and apply best practice analytics in persuasive PowerPoint presentations and Excel reports.
In 2020, we rolled out some of the best features in XP3 Viewer – our end-user software and developed XP3® BI Cloud™ to make these features available online. With its ease-of-use, open technology, and powerful analytics capabilities, it has become the standard for presenting any data, anytime, anywhere at some of the world’s largest Consumer Goods companies, including Ace Hardware, Chobani, Kellogg’s Jack Links, and Pepsi. Other clients like Zevia and Simple Mills with smaller teams and budgets also benefit from using XP3 BI Cloud.
Describe your top-notch offerings that address the need of your customers.
XP3 Suite™ is a Microsoft Office and cloud-based presentation and reporting solution that integrates multiple data sources and transforms them into actionable insights along with recommendations (Smart text headlines and commentary driven from the data). This helps our customers convey a selling story by allowing them to quickly and easily customize presentations and reports to their specific accounts using a simple interface drop-down menu (Quick Picks). The PowerPoint and Excel reporting content is created using XP3 Presentation and Report Builder (authoring tools) and is used by the Center of Excellence or headquarters based teams such as category managers and data analysts.
XP3 Data Workshop™ allows users to easily load, transform and aggregate data from Nielsen, IRI, SPINS, and other data sets using visual wizard steps without having to write code. Users can also create, import, and modify segmentation and hierarchy for custom data views. XP3 Data Integrator™ is a powerful and flexible solution that addresses data integration challenges associated with resolving naming issues between different data sources and providers, which is especially critical to CPG suppliers and their retail customers. Data Integrator works in conjunction with XP3 Data Workshop to provide the mapping, integration, and roll-ups required for displaying data at various product hierarchy levels.
XP3 BI Cloud™ allows users to customize a presentation to their retailer or geography selection using an easy-to-use Quick Picks feature. Once the presentation is ready, users can use the Chart Query feature to perform drill-downs or change selections as needed to support the story or the message that they are trying to tell. This feature can be enabled or made available to only selected users, as needed. We also have a Teams feature to allow the client admin to organize its users based on their retailer account responsibilities and also grant or restrict access to files posted on XP3 BI Cloud.
What makes your company a preferred choice among your clientele over other competitors?
Our solution is business user-friendly and in Microsoft Office. PowerPoint is the most popular presentation platform, and XP3 enables it to become dynamic and data-driven. XP3 data tools are designed to import data directly from data vendor’s raw data files or internal databases; With XP3, business analysts and DBAs can use the files that data vendors provide them without losing valuable time restructuring raw data; This allows analysts and other business users to manage data without IT support or database management skills.
Although some of the functionality of XP3 Suite can be replicated using tools provided by the most popular Business Intelligence platforms on the market today (such as Tableau, Power BI, or Business Objects), the level of skill required to do so far exceeds the level of skill required to build a similar data-driven presentation utilizing XP3. Companies have been using the features of Microsoft Office (such as PivotTables, and data linking) to automate the delivery of data since Microsoft Office 97. What Interactive Edge has created in XP3 Suite is an end-to-end data management, analysis, and presentation solution that is designed specifically to meet the needs of CPG industry.
What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions resourceful?
As a company, we have traditionally been Microsoft-based and are a member of their partner program. Our XP3 desktop applications are based on its technology stack, developed in .NET, leverages SQL Server, Analysis Services Multi-dimensional and Tabular data models, and is integrated as an add-in to PowerPoint and Excel. XP3 BI Cloud is Edge’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application and is accessible from a browser on any device, which allows our customers to benefit from the ease of use, subscription based pricing and lowered costs. This cloud based solution allows the users to generate data-ready presentations for their business needs. We are constantly adding new technology capabilities and preparing to release its next update with support for AWS cloud computing platform and connecting to Snowflake based data models.
In your opinion, what could be the future of retail tech post the COVID-19 pandemic? And how are you strategizing your company’s operations for that future?
The retail industry will always strive to become more and more efficient and will utilize robotics both in-store and in the supply chain where appropriate. In-store technology that allows the shopping experience to be more efficient will allow the retailer to better understand and predict shopper behaviour will also continue to grow. The cost of these new technology developments will need to come down significantly in order to become practical for more retailers beyond those with the deepest pockets.
With more and more workers leaving their jobs during the Great Resignation, other workers then have to deal with the burden of additional workloads. One of the benefits of our solution is it allows for fewer analysts to be creating and maintaining presentations and reports allowing them to add additional and more strategic initiatives. This allows them time to focus on addressing omnichannel challenges.
What are your future aspirations? Where do you see your company in the next five years?
We will continue to expand our solution to easily accommodate other data sets, data lakes, and other data warehouses to make our solution even more of a plug and play. We are making great strides as we now support data models in Tabular and Snowflake®.
We want to further partner and integrate with data providers and other solutions to enable our clients to leverage the flexibility and ease of use of XP3 to deliver more actionable insights.
What do your clients have to Say about Interactive Edge?
“XP3 BI Cloud has allowed our entire sales organization to better understand data, develop analytical thinking and deliver insights.” — Kellogg’s
“XP3 is not just for Category Management, we’ve been able to expand usage into our Executive Team Reporting, Marketing, and Finance groups by integrating data from different sources to provide a more holistic reporting option that answers specific business-related questions.” — Jack Links