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Racing ahead with proper planning tools

Samir Neji, Managing Director, Anaplan Asia Pacific | Sept. 18, 2015
Cloud computing offers real-time insights to inventory data because it is stored on an integrated platform and is accessible by anyone at any time.

Samir Neji, Anaplan
Photo: Samir Neji

The only night race to be successfully held in Grand Prix history, the Singapore Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix will once again take place this week (20 September 2015) on the Marina Bay Street Circuit in downtown Singapore. While the crowds go wild as their favourite race teams make their laps around Singapore's brightly-lit streets, businesses too, will cheer as the three-day event could see over S$100 million in tourism receipts.

For businesses around the downtown area, this is the time to rev up sales and inventory. Unfortunately, managing sales spikes is much more complex than it seems, and forward planning can only go so far in a volatile economic environment. The key is for businesses to capitalise on this small window of opportunity with the help of planning tools that can enable them to make sound judgment calls.

Sporting events: A lucrative business opportunity
Harnessing the economic opportunities brought by sporting events is not a new business tactic. During the 2010 World Cup, manufacturers were quick to take advantage of the crowd's enthusiasm for the vuvuzela, a noisy plastic horn favoured by local South African football fans. By being the first to spot the trend, many retailers were able to generate huge profits, selling hundreds of thousands of vuvuzelas until concerns over noise eventually led to its ban from stadiums all over the world.

The Singapore Grand Prix is no different. Beyond the floodlights, shiny aerodynamic race-cars, and the raving crowds, the Grand Prix presents a big opportunity for businesses in Singapore. Luxury hotels, bars, restaurants and retail outlets flanking the race circuit are well aware of the surge in demand from tourists, expatriates and Singaporeans alike - all looking for a memorable experience over the F1 weekend. Anticipating a hike in sales and inventory is only half the battle won. Knowing how to meet that spike in demand — without running out, or being left with surplus stock — may be a taller order.

Timing is everything
Demand planning used to be entrusted into the hands of a few but it has become a more collaborative activity today, especially as the workforce shifts towards one characterised by flattened hierarchies and empowered employees. Spreadsheets have always been the de facto planning tool across many departments and functions, and while smaller companies may use it as their weapon of choice, it's important to remember that they were never designed for that job; they were designed to be a personal productivity tool.

While there's no doubt that spreadsheets are fundamental to data organisation, they stop short of enabling real-time collaboration. Changes made on one spreadsheet cannot be reflected on the others instantaneously, and this means that at any point in time, the "left hand" does not know what the "right hand" is doing.


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