When I was in sunny California last, I had a chance to sit down with Rapt and talk about their rather unique solutions that revolve around pricing strategy, decision analytics, and price optimization that, when combined, can help a company maximize their revenue opportunities.
Rapt’s sophisticated software platform, that integrates more statistical, analytical, and optimization algorithms than you can shake a stick at, was designed to uncover the many complex supply, demand and price relationships that, when harnessed, predictably improve profit and market share. Unlike simpler modeling tools and platform, Rapt can break down products, or SKUS, into features and analyze the impact of each feature on demand. This is one of the reasons why their solution is becoming popular in high-tech.
Let’s say you have three laptops, the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria, and each are selling quite well. However, like all electronics today, their life-cylce is limited and you need to design your next generation laptop. Each has a different processor, CPU, hard drive, display, and battery life. How do you determine the best configuration for your new laptop? Rapt’s forecasting engine can integrate your historical sales data with marketplace data, analyze the sales patterns and trends at the feature level, determine which features (CPU, hard drive, etc.) are the most popular, determine how much each feature influences the overall sale, and tell you which combination of features would sell the best in a laptop. You can then use it’s Price Director solution to determine the optimal price-point for your product. This product contains advanced algorithms that work on order, inventory, and market data to extract the elastic and cross-elastic effects among products, their attributes, and consumer demands which it can use to determine the optimal price points for revenue or market-share optimization.
However, one of the most interesting facets of our discussion centered around the fact that the largest uptake in their rather unique solution offering was not in consumer goods industries, but in media, and new media in particular. MSN, Yahoo!, CNET Networks, NBC Universal, The Weather Channel, and MTV Networks, among others, all use Rapt’s solution to determine how to price their advertising, which is defined by high variability in demand, uncertain availability of supply, and the rapid innovation and evolution of medium capabilities. If they can tackle one of the most challenging pricing problems out there, surely they can be helpful in more traditional industries. But then again, many companies in these traditional industries most likely have not yet adopted decision optimization in their award process, should-cost modeling in their product design process, or advanced spend visibility solutions in their strategic sourcing process. All I can say is that … the technology’s finally here, let’s start to use it!