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Real-Time Sales and Operations Planning and Execution with Planning in a Box

August 29, 2023 | Manju Devadas

Blog / Real-Time Sales and Operations Planning and Execution with Planning in a Box

Driving Customer-Centric Supply Chains with Generative AI and Integration with 250+ Datasets connecting your marketing, sales, and supply chain with finance

Key Takeaways:

  • Unpredictable Consumer Journeys: Today’s consumer weaves a complex digital tapestry spanning multiple touchpoints, making it challenging to anticipate their next move.
  • Not Just Data, But Insights Matter: While the amount of consumer data available is vast, it’s the actionable insights that businesses extract that determine success.
  • An Immediate Shift to Real-time Responsiveness: Given the rapidly changing consumer behaviors, businesses need to move away from static, historical data-based operations to an agile, real-time model.
  • The Need for Cohesive Data Interpretation: With multiple interconnected touchpoints, it’s essential to treat data as a cohesive whole, rather than disjointed parts. Connecting process through data matters.
  • Overcoming Operational Silos: For genuine market responsiveness, businesses need a harmonized inter-departmental approach, ensuring the entire organization dances to the consumer’s rhythm. Marketing, Sales, Supply Chain, and Finance need to have a single view of the customer. For instance, an inventory shortage isn’t solely a supply chain issue; it’s a challenge that spans multiple functions.
  • The Sense, Plan, and Position Framework: This holistic framework is designed to keep businesses in step with consumers, offering a roadmap to predict and meet evolving consumer demands. Pluto7’s Planning in a Box solution supports this framework.
  • Amplifying Outcomes with Planning in a Box: While the framework lays the foundation, tools like Planning in a Box elevate businesses’ capability not just to understand but anticipate and act on consumer needs efficiently.
  • Unified Data for Strategic Planning: Planning in a Box seamlessly integrates data from SAP, Oracle EBS, AdTech, and Salesforce, providing a unified view for more efficient planning.
  • Creating Customer-Centric Supply Chains: By placing consumers at the heart of supply chain operations, businesses stand to craft memorable experiences that foster loyalty, advocacy, and sustainable growth.

Why is Decoding the Modern Customer Journey So Challenging?

The modern-day consumer doesn’t follow a straight line from awareness to purchase. Instead, they zigzag across channels, platforms, and devices, creating new challenges for businesses. This behavioral evolution has far-reaching implications on how businesses operate, especially in the realms of supply chain and inventory management. But what makes decoding this journey so complicated?

  • Every interaction leaves a digital footprint. Be it a click on an advertisement, a product review, or even a simple scroll on a website, each action contributes to the vast data landscape.
  • Seasonal trends were once the most significant influencers of consumer behavior. Now, a viral social media post or a global news event can instantaneously shift buying patterns.
  • Today’s consumer might start their journey on a social media platform, jump to a blog review, then to a company website, and finally to a physical store or third-party online retailer. These touchpoints are interlinked, yet often assessed independently.
  • Not all data is created equal. While some data points offer rich insights, others might be redundant or even misleading. Distinguishing valuable data from the noise becomes a significant challenge.
  • Even if data is available and of high quality, its potential is stifled if confined to silos. A promotional success in marketing that surges demand is of little use if the supply chain is caught off guard.

The Sense, Plan, and Position Framework: Enhancing Consumer Experience

The market is moving fast. Resting on static systems in this dynamic environment is like using a sundial in the age of smartwatches. Companies must embed ‘agility’ into their operations, not just sprinkle it on presentation decks. True ‘agility’ is rooted in real-time data engagement.

Consider this: the customer insights you started your workday with will likely double by the time you log off. Yet, for many, this data remains invisible, an untapped goldmine, simply because there’s no mechanism in place to connect these vital dots.

Let’s try an experiment: Pause reading and ask your business system, How many customers opted for an alternative product after discovering a popular item was out of stock? And can it also highlight if a competitor’s promotion during the same time influenced that decision? 

Did you get an immediate answer?

Chances are you’re diving into several data points to piece it all together. And when you finally have the answer? The market’s moved again. The need of the hour is the agility to ask and get instant, data-backed responses.

Hence, to truly elevate the consumer experience, businesses must transition to a more intuitive approach: The Sense, Plan, and Position Framework.

1.   Sense: Understand and Anticipate Consumer Desires

Focus on meaningful consumer interactions, from online behaviors to social media sentiments. For instance, instead of solely relying on past sales, tap into real-time online trends and global forecasts for an accurate grasp of current fashion desires.

2.  Plan: Strategize Using Live Data

The market isn’t static; planning shouldn’t be either. For example, in the tech sphere, sudden changes—like a new product feature or global shortages—require swift strategy pivots.

3.  Position: Delivering Consumer Satisfaction

Ensure product availability aligns with market demands, preventing wastage or shortages. It’s about giving consumers what they want.

By embracing the Sense, Plan, and Position Framework, businesses can refine their strategies to adopt a customer-centric approach to supply chains, ensuring they consistently meet and surpass consumer expectations, thus delivering an unparalleled consumer experience.

Empowering the Framework: Integrating with Planning in a Box

After setting up the framework of Sense, Plan, and Position, the next question is how to make it work effectively. Using only an ERP system is like playing a game with half the pieces. For example, while your ERP may manage inventory well, it might not be as adept at using current market data to predict upcoming demand.

That’s where Pluto7’s Planning in a Box comes in. It’s a data platform that works alongside your ERP to fill in those missing pieces. Think of it as an added layer that takes your ERP data, adds more insights to it, and then offers useful suggestions. 

 For instance, where your ERP(SAP, Oracle EBS, Netsuite) simply reports on inventory levels, Planning in a Box might highlight potential stock-outs by correlating sales trends, third-party data, and historical patterns.

Here’s what makes Planning in a Box stand out:

  • Tailored for Supply Chain: It’s made with supply chain tasks in mind, understanding the nuances of inventory, forecasting, and procurement, among others. It’s familiar with common challenges and knows what targets businesses are trying to hit.
  • Works With Your ERP: It doesn’t replace your ERP. Instead, it works alongside it, enhancing its capabilities.
  • Uses Multiple Data Sources: Beyond just your ERP data, it pulls in info from CRM systems and even third-party data like Google Trends. This broader view means better forecasts for inventory and demand.
  • Customizable: Businesses can adjust Planning in a Box to fit their specific needs. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool.

In simple terms, while the framework outlines what businesses should aim for, Planning in a Box provides the tools to get there.

How ‘Planning in a Box’ Revolutionizes Consumer Experience

In the modern business landscape, an organization’s success isn’t just measured by its financial metrics. Consumer experience (CX) has become the gold standard. Traditional ERPs(SAP, Oracle EBS, Netsiute) can’t match the dynamism required for exceptional CX. Here are a couple of scenarios to establish this further. 

1.  Sense: Personalizing the Consumer Journey

For an enriched consumer experience, businesses need to understand and anticipate market dynamics and individual preferences.

Business Scenario: A viral social media video boosts a product’s demand

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: General restocking leading to potential stock-outs. 

CX Impact: Customers are frustrated with unavailable items.

Real-time data integration for inventory adjustment. 

CX Boost: Customers find their desired products easily, enhancing brand loyalty.

Business Scenario: Global political event influences the market

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: Late strategy adjustment. 

CX Impact: Misaligned marketing messages.

Real-time strategy adaptation. 

CX Boost: Relevant, timely marketing messages resonate with customers.

Business Scenario: Unexpected weather pattern affecting sales

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: No adjustment. 

CX Impact: Missed sales opportunities.

Adapts strategies, seizing opportunities. 

CX Boost: Relevant offers to customers, enhancing the buying experience.

2.  Plan: Creating Dynamic Plans 

Dynamic planning directly affects a business’s ability to deliver consistent and memorable experiences to its consumers.

Business Scenario: A major competitor releases a rival product

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: Static sales approach.

CX Impact:  Potential shift of loyal customers.

Real-time strategy shift. 

CX Boost: Retains customer interest through timely offers & promotions.

Business Scenario: Global economic downturn predicted

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP:  Continues static planning.

CX Impact: Misaligned product pricing.

Financial strategy overhauls. 

CX Boost: Pricing and offers align with customer expectations.

Business Scenario: New online trend shifts consumer behavior

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: Outdated product display.

CX Impact: Decreased sales.

Adapts strategies, seizing opportunities. 

CX Boost: Trending products prioritized, meeting consumer demand.

3.  Position: No Excess, No Stockouts, Just the Right Balance 

Positioning is not just about being visible. It’s about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right products. And this is what drives exceptional consumer experience. 

Business Scenario: Rapidly changing demand in regions

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: Generalized stock 

CX Impact:  Potential mismatch in demand & supply.

Tailored inventory adjustments.

CX Boost: Products available as per regional demands, delighting customers.

Business Scenario: Major festival in a region boosts sales

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP:  No strategy shift.

CX Impact: Missed sales.

Adjusts inventory & marketing.

CX Boost: Personalized offers create festive delight.

Business Scenario: Emergence of a new, efficient delivery route

Traditional ERP’s Response Planning in a Box’s Solution with Google Cortex and Generative AI

ERP: Sticks to old routes

CX Impact: Slower deliveries.

Swiftly integrates efficient routes. 

CX Boost: Faster deliveries enhancing customer satisfaction.

Putting Customer-Centricity at the Heart of Your Supply Chain Strategy 

The Sense, Plan, and Position Framework isn’t just an operational guide—it’s a mindset shift toward proactivity and customer-centricity. While embracing this mindset is pivotal, actualizing it demands powerful tools tailored to the task.

This is where a pioneering data platform like Planning in a Box emerges as a game-changer powered with Google Cortex and Generatvie AI. Endorsed by industry giants like Google, and SAP, and recognized by Gartner, it seamlessly integrates customer-centricity into your business systems. 

By doing so, Planning in a Box doesn’t merely enhance your supply chain processes—it transforms them, ensuring that every decision made echoes the voice of the consumer. As you contemplate your supply chain’s future trajectory, it’s worth pondering: Is it merely echoing outdated models, or is it resounding with the pulse of the modern consumer? 

Speaking of keeping in tune with the modern consumer, I’ll be diving deeper into these insights at Google Cloud Next 2023 from Aug 29-31st. If you’re around San Francisco or joining the event, and want to chat about harnessing AI to revolutionize your supply chain, let’s catch up. Just ping me on LinkedIn. Together, let’s shape a supply chain that resonates seamlessly with every consumer beat.


Manju Devadas is the Founder and CEO of Pluto7, bringing 20+ years of experience in predictive analytics for Supply Chain, Retail and Manufacturing. With expertise in AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning, he has been instrumental in improving efficiency and strategic growth across industries.

Connect with Manju on LinkedIn