Security Forces Equipment Manufacturer Gentex Sees 50% Growth in Sales in Six Months

Executive Summary:

Gentex is a leading supplier of personal protection and situational awareness systems around the world. Fast and accurate operation planning metrics such as projected revenue, opportunity forecasts, and expense reports are critical to the company’s success. Eric Farrell, Director of IT at Gentex and data expert for more than 25 years, was struggling to use Gentex’s outdated ERP database that was over 30 years old and jam-packed with complex customization. He needed dashboards around all their operation planning quickly, but implementation against their old ERP system was costly and difficult. After finding Sisense, Eric says one of their wins was a 50% increase in eCommerce sales in just six months.

The Opportunity

Gentex improves the personal protection and situational awareness for global defense forces, emergency responders, and industrial personnel operating in high-performance environments. They do this by providing a portfolio of helmet system platforms, aluminized fabrics, and light management technology. With over 100-years of product development and manufacturing experience, their business was being run on a 30-year old ERP system. Eric needed a BI tool that could leverage their sales and operations planning data. However, options for incorporating modern technical tools into an ERP environment for data analysis are limited and are very costly. Their system had millions of records and they needed something that could churn through it quickly and deliver fast intelligence.

The Search is on

Eric found Sisense early in the process and the free proof of concept allowed him to rapidly connect to their ERP system. The structure of the Elasticube and true drag and drop front end interface allowed Eric to quickly build dashboards for sales and operational planning that incorporated scores of data on quotes, orders, and sales over extended periods of time. He was able to see accurate, up to date information and answer key questions relating to where the company stood on its budget. With such compelling results, it was a very simple decision to purchase Sisense.

It was important for me to go after a BI tool that had its own powerful and innovative data cube or warehouse technology behind it.

Tracking Trends for 360 Degree Views

The Sisense dashboards have complete and clean data inputs and processes, delivering information that allows different departments to see hindsights, insights, and even foresight with interactive and intuitive data visualization. For example, Gentex uses gauges for their budget status, turning green if below budget by at least 5%, yellow when within budget (+/- 5%), and red if over budget.

By using drill down, users can forecast budgets for the entire year with the initial months matching actual spending, and additional months adjusting budget to the predictive analysis based on current spending.

With their new Sisense 360 degree view, Eric has implemented hindsights to see how they are currently performing, insights to reveal how they compare and what direction they are trending, and foresight use trending linear regression and predictive capabilities of Sisense to visualize where they will be over time, given their current trend.

Sisense has allowed us to gain insight around their operational expenses and reduce capital expenditure, operational expenditure, as well as improve revenue.

Hero Moment

By having a way to show the company executives a predictive forecast of performance, Gentex can see where the company is lacking and preemptively bridge gaps with an organized plan. And it’s not just the executive department that uses Sisense; every manager in Gentex–from president all the way down to line level supervisors–are end users of Sisense, and each one is expected to manage their department’s or section’s budget. Because Gentex finds Sisense to be so easy to use, training is simple and consists of attending a few free Sisense webinar training sessions.

With Sisense, Eric was able to have an intern become his primary system developer and internal knowledge vendor in less than two years. Gentex now has a single platform for all intelligence and reporting. They have seen an 8% increase on return on investments on new product launches. In addition, they have seen a 3% reduction of expenses through better planning. They can also visualize their year-to-date spending and open POs the day after they happen, with trending and forecasting up to 15 months out. Gentex is now reviewing information and intelligence instead of receiving data, thanks to Sisense.

gentex factory overhead depertment sisense
Image: Factory Overhead Based on Specific Department