RollMaster differentiates cloud solution with Tableau analytics, sees ROI in just six months


Embedded cloud analytics in three months
Saved customers dozens of reporting hours each week
Increased core product stickiness & competitive edge

RollMaster is a leader in cloud-based flooring software, serving hundreds of dealers that comprise more than 1,500 locations across the United States and Canada. Its core ERP system and dozens of integrated products help flooring customers to be more profitable while managing everything from inventory and purchase orders to sales, accounting, and other financials.

Part of what makes RollMaster a leader in the industry is its early investment in the cloud. The company has been hosting solutions in the cloud for more than 12 years—or, as Vice President Patrick Ferries said, “before cloud was cool.” With a deep focus on customer needs, Patrick wanted to offer the best business intelligence experience possible to customers. Rather than building a solution in house, he and his team chose to integrate Tableau’s hosted cloud analytics solution, Tableau Online, with the cloud-based RollMaster software.

RollMaster developed more than 180 dashboards to provide data-driven insights to its customers as a critical component of their core offering. This not only increased the company’s value to its customers and boosted engagement with its core software, but led to some new business opportunities—including giving the company a competitive edge for larger prospect deals and a new industry benchmarking solution on the horizon.

Larger customers realize they need a solution with BI already embedded. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Having partnered with Tableau, we have a better product to offer than our competitors.

Embedding Tableau meant faster go-to-market with ROI in months, rather than years

When one of RollMaster’s larger customers implemented Tableau to better explore their data, it gave Patrick an idea: “I could take this kind of analytics experience and make it for the masses. Rather than all of my largest dealers making this investment one by one themselves, I could just build this platform out and make it a marketable, add-on product.”

With high expectations for an analytics experience to provide customers, RollMaster chose Tableau over developing a solution in-house. “Frankly, it was a pretty quick evaluation,” Patrick shared. “Once we saw Tableau’s interactivity and how easily you can drill in and out of data components, we were quick to realize that we can’t build these capabilities ourselves—it would just be a never-ending project with full-time programmers. So why not just buy the best tool for the job?”

To get Tableau Online integrated and to market, RollMaster hired an independent consultant. This resulted in minimal costs and effect on staffing, which was helpful because the organization didn’t want to invest their own developers’ time in the project, nor did they have the immediate expertise to deliver the dashboards and functionality they knew would provide the most value to their customers.

RollMaster was able to launch the new analytics solution with Tableau Online in less than three months. Patrick expected that only the top-tier dealers would be interested in an analytics add-on product, but was surprised to see customers of all sizes quickly adopting the new solution.

Expecting a two-year payback on the investment, RollMaster began seeing a return on the new analytics solution in just six months. “We really didn’t expect so many people to want all this data and these visualizations,” Patrick said. “In hindsight, we wish we would have done it a long time ago. We also didn’t realize it would be this easy to get this level of technology up and running.”

RollMaster software is central to our business, and Tableau changed the way we see our business overall. Now we drill down into jobs and performance to help with key decision-making, saving hours we used to spend pulling reports with a fraction of the data.

Demand for self-service analytics exceeds expectations, delivers powerful insights

Prior to embedding Tableau, RollMaster had a few of their own basic dashboards for customers to analyze their data, but Patrick noticed that customers would dive into his sales reports and then dump them into Excel. He shared, “I never realized how much time people spent on the reports—not just the data outputs, but making reports presentable for upper management, sometimes several hours each week.” In addition to saving customers this reporting time, upper management can see reliable, fresh data daily, rather than a few times each week.

Customers also love the modern, self-service approach to BI that Tableau enables with RollMaster’s core products. “Most people just want to consume these reports and drill into them,” Patrick shared. “They’re able to do everything on their own with little or no help from me or the consultants—and everything is wrapped up with a nice virtual bow on it.”

Sometimes customers surprise Patrick with new ways to look at the data that help RollMaster develop new content to continue to add customer value. “Even if it’s a dashboard that we’ve built, they show me how they dive deeper into the data and see things differently.”

The impact of the analytics solution can be massive. For example, one customer learned that a sales representative had stopped selling a certain product which resulted in a loss of $100,000. Though they had the data all along, exploring it in a new way through Tableau’s visual interface led them to this insight within just 15 minutes.

I knew Tableau had a great reputation—they’re the biggest and best. We didn’t want to go down the wrong path and do all this development just to realize we had to redo it to give our customers the best analytics experience.

Tableau offers competitive edge, increasing product stickiness and opening new doors

Even in a niche market, RollMaster is sparing no effort to remain competitive. Though many competitors run QuickBooks, the market needs seem to be shifting as some are investing in embedded BI. Patrick said, “I’m excited we were the first to market with it, and that we’re blowing everyone away with what these analytics can do for our customers.” Patrick also noted that it’s been an advantage when prospects have heard of or even used Tableau. The recognition and familiarity with Tableau capabilities make the RollMaster products more attractive.

Being the intently customer-focused organization RollMaster is, Patrick was pleased to put more powerful tools than ever before at his customers’ fingertips. It’s also helped to make RollMaster products stickier. “Our customers get immersed in and really rely on these dashboards,” Patrick said. “The analytics have become a must-have—one more thing they can’t live without. So that narrows down the competing platforms they would even consider to replace our solution.”

Having powerful, integrated analytics has also opened new doors with larger prospects. It wasn’t long ago that many RollMaster customers didn’t know what BI was, or how it could benefit them. “Nowadays, larger customers realize they need a solution with BI already embedded,” Patrick said. “They don’t want to reinvent the wheel, buying one solution only to require tacking an analytics solution onto it—they want it all in one package. And, having partnered with Tableau, we have a better product to offer than our competitors.”

We’ve always had a good handle on our business with RollMaster, but the analytics broadened our insights so we can quickly pinpoint problem areas. With the Tableau dashboards, it stands out immediately—no question it has saved us significant losses.

I’m excited we were the first to market with it, and that we’re blowing everyone away with what these analytics can do for our customers. Our customers get immersed in and really rely on these dashboards.

On the horizon: Added value with anonymized data for benchmarking

Now that RollMaster has a significant customer base engaged in their cloud analytics platform, Patrick is planning to tap into the “big data” opportunity at hand—offering data for strategic and competitive benchmarking. By anonymizing its customer data, RollMaster can segment and group its customers and allow them to compare themselves with their peers, see trends in the industry, and even utilize predictive analytics to anticipate changes in the market.

Patrick expects this added value to help customers improve their businesses, while creating even more stickiness with RollMaster products and further differentiation. “Additionally, it’s going to help our partnerships with nonprofits in the flooring community,” he added. “We can share benchmarking data with industry partners and create tighter relationships.”