Business Intelligence and Analytics is for Speedy Businesses

August 23, 2010
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Zipcar 150x150 photo (business analytics)

Zipcar 150x150 photo (business analytics)

One might assume business intelligence and analytics are used almost exclusively by large enterprises with volumes and volumes of data collected over decades.  Well, yes.  But that doesn’t preclude smaller, nimble, fast-growing businesses that also need to use business intelligence and analytics to understand customer trends and business operations.  

One example of a speedy business making rapid decisions based on analytics and business intelligence is Cambridge, Mass.-based Zipcar.  Zipcar’s business story is well-known: the company has experienced tremendous growth in a few short years and has established the category of car sharing.  Zipcar is like Kleenex, a stellar brand and business becoming the generic name for the entire category.

Today Zipcar offers car sharing and car club services in cities throughout the United States; in Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; in London, and is expanding in the United Kingdom.  With a fleet of cars available by rent for the hour, bevies of members and multiple cities, Zipcar does have large amounts of data to analyze.  And, just as the company’s business model is innovative, the company’s need to understand and change aspects of operations needs to be flexible.

Zipcar uses business intelligence and analytics software from Spotfire to examine, understand and react to financial information and operational information.  The operational information includes details on members, member usage, fleet, cities, and regions.  By analyzing the right information, Zipcar can get greater insight into fleet utilization; this gives Zipcar the ability to make appropriate changes to pricing on a monthly basis, increasing profit margins.

For example, Zipcar can use business intelligence and analytics to drill down into what cars are used in what cities.  This information can help Zipcar to make the right new car purchases, or move certain car make and models to other cities. 

Yes, business intelligence and analytics provides the right level of detail, to the right people, to make Zipcar, well, a zippy business. 

Kelley Kassa
Spotfire Blogging Team

Image Credit: Flickr by jm3