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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

5 Minutes with a CIO: Derek Kramer of Service King

Embedding analytics into daily operations has increased data-driven business decisions for this auto repair provider, in turn increasing productivity and efficiency.

We may not call car mechanics analysts, but given the high-tech nature of today's auto industry, they have to be able to understand complex data. Service King Collision Repair Centers has seen rapid expansion since 2012, growing to 300 locations in 23 states. The management increasingly saw a need to provide employees with real-time metrics that could be standardized across locations.

Derek Kramer, CIO at Service King, spoke to Upside about how embedding analytics into daily repair center operations has increased data-driven business decisions, in turn increasing productivity and efficiency.

UPSIDE: What personality trait do you think CIOs need to succeed?

Derek Kramer: There are too many to count. If I were to narrow down the list, I would say an ability to motivate coupled with a heightened sense of empathy. I truly believe in the motto, "Speak to the heart and the mind will follow," and I make an intentional effort to guide our team that way each and every day. If you are able to motivate your staff by connecting with each teammate on a real, tangible level, the quality of your end product will reflect that commitment.

What is your favorite tool or technique that has made your job easier (and how is it easier)?

One of my favorite techniques is running "huddle" board meetings. Our teammates in the field leverage this technique for collective check-ins in their daily work to manage the production process. My thought was to execute much like our business partners.

Nearly my entire department comes together, and we cover the entire active book of work, events, information security updates, and IT operations in minutes. It significantly cuts down on recurring meetings and fosters a deeper engagement by using a more impactful and collaborative meeting style.

How are you, personally, using analytics in your day-to-day decisions? What data do you look at every day? Every week?

We are a data-driven culture, and we see many areas where applying analytics to our daily operations makes Service King operate at a higher level. With recent improvements to our infrastructure, we have had the opportunity to embed analytics within our core systems to evaluate and leverage real-time data. The results have been game changing.

Using this method, we can provide an intuitive snapshot view of dozens of real-time operational metrics, including KPIs and current capacity levels. Using real-time data to our advantage helps our teammates operate at peak performance.

Do you run reports yourself or are they pushed to you (for example, in a daily email message or a first-thing-in-the-morning dashboard)?

We made an intentional effort to place our data at a convenient and prominent location for our teammates. This allows them to easily execute on the information they have. Therefore, nearly all of our reporting strategies revolve around automatically presenting that information at the point of login for our core systems. We believe this arms our teammates with the information they need, when they need it.

What's the most significant outcome you've seen come from analyzing data?

Overall productivity has increased tremendously. Our teammates can now spend less of their valuable time generating metrics and more time managing their operations.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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