MBS Textbook Exchange

m-Powering MBS: BI software helps bring company together, while saving everyone's time


Background

MBS Textbook Exchange is the industry leader in wholesale textbook distribution, and the largest used textbook wholesaler and bookstore systems provider in the United States. This article was written by MBS, and originally published in their internal publication, "The MBS Informant." It is republished here with permission from MBS.

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Written by Dean Asher, MBS Textbook Exchange

These days, getting the business data you need is pretty straight forward. It wasn't always that way, though. Those who have only been with MBS for a few years might not realize it, but there was a time when getting crucial data reports on inventory, orders and finances could take hours or even days, and only provided previously recorded data that had often already changed by the time users could read it.

That all changed with m-Power, a leading business intelligence tool MBS purchased in 2011. M-Power gives multiple users and departments throughout MBS the opportunity to quickly access live data using any number of custom reports. This means that from marketing to retail database management to fraud detection, everyone's jobs have gotten more efficient and well-informed.

Director of Marketing Services Wendy Gish first brought m-Power to MBS' attention. She was interested in the service for its ability to help strengthen Marketing Services' mailing lists. Previously, the folks in marketing acquired customer and prospect email addresses manually, and there was no easy way to sort them by level of partnership or number of MBS services they used. M-Power made that possible, meaning all marketing messages can be better tailored to a more narrow, relevant audience.

It quickly became apparent that m-Power had uses for other departments throughout the company, however.

"m-Power was so attractive because it would allow us to join tables from within MBS's databases across systems easily, without having to request everything we needed from programming," she said. "It's really empowered employees to get the information they need without burdening MIS."

"It's really empowered employees to get the information they need without burdening MIS."

One person who can testify to the degree to which m-Power is used throughout MBS is Business Analyst Manager Nicole Guaetta. Her department, Direct Data, was no stranger to business intelligence and data reporting, having handled those processes for MBS Direct over the past several years.

"Whether it was us running a report or people pulling data themselves, running data transfers could sometimes take upwards of an hour and a half to run, and you'd have to run multiple individual queries to get the final product," she said. "In the past numbers were usually pulled overnight, so by the time the end user sees them, it could already be 12 hours old."

Nicole noted that Direct Data had been streamlining and automating its processes even before gaining access to m-Power, but within the last year or two they have gone from 45% automated to about 90% automated as a department. While her staff had to pick up extra programming skills to develop custom reports within m-Power, it has overall made Direct Data more efficient.

"It's made a big difference all over Direct: we've run about 825 live reports as of this morning, and it's allowed us to utilize more complex reports," Nicole said. "We weren't running three to five-year sales reports for accounts before, because we just couldn't churn that much data. Now we can."

"We weren't running three to five-year sales reports for accounts before, because we just couldn't churn that much data. Now we can."

Director of Retail Database Mindy Stephenson and her team also use m-Power to handle book title maintenance, running maintenance queries to make sure titles in our warehouse are properly coded and flagged as necessary.

"We used to have to look all of that up manually as needed," Mindy said. "M-Power has allowed us to check that information much more frequently. Plus having access to live data is definitely nice. Even though everything we ran came from just the night before, we can run anything now and check for something that might have changed that day. It's a good way to double check our accuracy."

Those aren't the only departments who have seen benefits. Employees at the MBS Direct Customer Contact Center utilize m-Power to look up school financial aid data and other important information, while Direct Accounting's fraud team can see suspicious orders as they happen. The tool has even found use outside of internal operations, where MBS Systems was able to license m-Power to store customers rebranded as Dashboard and Dashboard: Developer's Edition.

"It's been huge for MBS — it allows us all to make decisions faster," Wendy said. "I'm personally really proud of how far it's come, from something that just Marketing Services was using to something that the whole company is using."

To learn more about MBS, you can visit their Web site at: https://www.mbsbooks.com/

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