How a leading Australian agribusiness enhanced its competitive edge

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Toustone and Ruralco develop a business intelligence strategy Pixabay/Stuart_roger_miles

According to Tom Hansen, Ruralco CIO, “In a constantly evolving business environment, the integration of the Toustone BI solution has transformed our data, giving us complete operational visibility with access to real-time, trustworthy insights, accessible and actionable to all relevant personnel, resulting in substantial savings in labour and inventory holdings.”

The challenge

Ruralco is a leading Australian diversified agribusiness, providing expertise across a breadth of areas including real estate, insurance, risk management, finance, fertiliser, wool, livestock, water and grain. The group caters to the diverse needs of regional and rural Australia, operating 40 separate businesses through a network of 500 outlets nation-wide.

Extracting intellectual property from management in such a comprehensive, fast-paced business environment was a challenge for Ruralco. Additionally, the presence of multiple data streams from incongruent systems made it impossible to identify a single source of truth with respect to overall business performance. The company saw two key areas as obstacles to fostering potential growth: a lack of in-house expertise in business intelligence and analytics, coupled with the absence of a structured and timely reporting program.

While there was no deficit of available data from various streams, Ruralco lacked the facility to access accurate business-wide information in real-time. The company recognised that harnessing existing data and presenting it in visual format would not only deliver a detailed snapshot of current performance but also cultivate an ethos of better and more timely decision-making across the business.

Available options to Ruralco included developing its own in-house capability, which would require dedicated staff, along with an investment in both hardware and software. Opting instead to stick to core competencies, Ruralco elected to work together with Toustone and develop the ultimate solution for its needs.

The solution

Toustone collaborated with Ruralco to develop a business intelligence strategy that would deliver the optimum outcome, utilising the Yellowfin Cloud powered by Toustone platform. The solution automatically draws data from each of the separate sources and presents it via customised, interactive dashboards, ensuring management always has easy and intuitive access to the most up-to-date information.

For the sales team, visibility of accurate and current information is invaluable. Client transactions can be accessed in the field via any smart device, with no delay or reliance on back-office admin staff. Email broadcasts show earnings on an MTD and YTD basis, so managers can measure, benchmark and reward the team objectively.

Visibility of client rakings by earnings on a YTD basis allows sales staff to plan calls effectively — ensuring that revenue opportunity is maximised. Access to historical sales information means lost sales opportunities are minimised in a seasonally driven market.

Leveraging from the available information, Ruralco combines its own data with that provided from third-parties to generate tailored reports that deliver additional valuable BI and analytics insights, allowing management to rapidly respond to the changing environment and to improve business performance overall.

By linking sales and inventory data, the company has full visibility into the performance of each and every product line, facilitating inventory adjustments based on fact, not gut feel. Having real-time operational insight allows Ruralco to resolve potential issues — including supply problems — before there is discernible customer impact.

The Yellowfin Cloud powered by Toustone solution delivers enterprise-level standards of security, performance and reliability, putting accurate information into the hands of those who need it and allowing Ruralco to improve its competitive edge.


  • Fully automated daily business reporting, including: geo-mapping of sales to provide territory and location analysis; data-mining across multi-disciplined data, such as sales by territory and revenue/margin by profit centre and; performance target measurement and business insights.
  • Inventory reductions and warehouse efficiency improvements: Linking sales and inventory data means sales trajectories, inventory shortfalls and overruns are quickly identified, facilitating reduced inventory holdings without any sales impact. Analysis of sales patterns exposes products that require monitoring based on demand variability and profitability, enabling Ruralco to optimise stock levels on those lines.
  • Deferred terms analysis: delivered significant working capital savings.
  • Resourcing improvements: A daily time saving of 20-30% via automated reporting — versus manual entry — means staff can be redeployed effectively and savings realised.
  • Real-time visibility: Access to accurate livestock sales data replaces end-of-month reporting and allows better decision-making "on the fly."

About Ruralco

Ruralco is a leading player in the Australian agricultural and retail services sector, with more than 2,000 employees and $1.6 billion annual operating revenue. A leading Australian agribusiness with more than forty specialist businesses, Ruralco provides real estate, insurance, auctioneer services, agricultural equipment and other services to the Australian rural community.