Daily restaurant sales data was analyzed and available for marketing the following afternoon so the department could immediately align their marketing spending to an area's sales, he said.
At Sensata, previous internal data-analysis efforts generated reports with information already known to the company.
Now, analyzing internal and external data together allows the company "to get ahead of the curve as opposed to continuing to look back," said Stefanic.
In addition to identifying trends, finding value in the data leads to more acceptance of business intelligence efforts, he said.
"Once we can share with the organization how they can see patterns forming, the adopt rate goes up tremendously."
Future CIOs need a firm grasp of how every level of their organization functions and contributes to the bottom line, Sheehan said.
"You've got to be a business technologist. You have to be able to learn the business," he said.
For him this meant working the Modell's sales floor for a few weeks after he joined the retailer in April. This allowed him to learn the challenges facing store employees, a group whose performance and interaction with customers directly affects corporate revenue.
"You need to understand what the lowest level of the organization is faced with because that is the way you are ultimately going to go about generating sales," he said.