Zel Bianco

President, founder and CEO Interactive Edge

Zel Bianco and Interactive Edge have been helping companies, specifically in the Consumer Goods industry, run more efficiently since 1994. Zel’s focus is always on the needs of the client. He strives to be a real business partner to every customer — no matter what the size of the contract or the scope of the implementation. He wants to help companies eliminate the cumbersome and time consuming tasks associated with data management and organization in order to free up users time so that they can do what they were hired to do: generate insights to grow their business. Zel enjoys helping clients bridge the gap between category management and shopper insights. He collaborates with clients in the development of a process that streamlines the flow of qualitative data into customer facing presentations and reports.

As the president, founder and CEO of Interactive Edge, Zel is responsible for setting the company’s strategic vision and developing business alliances. He is also an industry thought leader who has enjoyed presenting at many industry conferences such as the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the International Committee of Food Retail Chains (CIES), SAP’s SAPPHIRE and SAP’s TechEd Demo Jam. He has been honored to speak at both DePaul University and Michigan State University, and has donated the Interactive Edge XP3 software for use by students at both of their business schools. Interactive Edge and its customers have won numerous industry awards in areas including Customer Management, Visionary Innovation, and Demand Data Analytics.

Prior to founding Interactive Edge, Zel held senior account management positions in the advertising industry, at Young & Rubicam and other large New York agencies. He worked with many consumer package goods clients and was a part of the account management team that introduced the IBM personal computer.

More information about Zel and his solution for presenting demand data analytics can be found at the Interactive Edge website.

  • Posted on: 02/22/2017

    How long should data consolidation take?

    We find this to be true all too often with the clients we work with, who tend to be mid-size to large CPG companies competing across multiple categories. Typical internal processes for data acquisition, organization, integration and reporting are manual and labor-intensive, so no wonder it’s taking these organizations five days before they get insight deliverables out to the field! Over many years of working with CPGs of all shapes and sizes, we’ve come to understand their pain points in this area intimately ... which is why we’ve continuously developed business user-friendly features into our solutions for everything from data prep and integration of disparate data sources to powerful drilldown and iteration capabilities. All of this has been done with an eye toward the end goal of increasing speed to insight, which drives speed to market, which creates competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Will having the same buyers for online and stores work for Walmart?

    We talk omnichannel and now we have to walk omnichannel. It's about shopper experience, remember? I am surprised they didn't try to implement this earlier. The concern is, how do suppliers react to this? Not from a logistical standpoint but to the pressure that will be put on them for even lower prices. When is too low, too low?
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?

    Like I said in yesterday's comments, malls must try to mimic the experience of shopping and socializing that can be had in an urban and perhaps more sophisticated environment. Music, movies, food and cafes will make the experience more appealing to most. If mall operators do not push for more of this, they have themselves to blame as a mall without things to do other than shop will be boring and, God forbid, look and feel like their parents' mall!
  • Posted on: 01/18/2017

    Why does Gen Z like brick-and-mortar stores but not malls?

    What does not make sense is that most of the stores that can be found in malls are the same stores that are found outside of malls. It must be that malls are perceived as dated and no matter how many facelifts are applied to them they are still malls. You would think that the mall is much more practical for Generation Z shoppers because they can go from one store to the other without getting back in the car. Unless you live in an urban area most shopping centers seem to be built the same way wherever you are, Chicago or the New York suburbs or even in Rogers, Arkansas. Perhaps live music and free food would do the trick?
  • Posted on: 01/13/2017

    Will Alexa become the voice of IoT?

    This is way more than an operating system, it is a platform. Just like Apple, Amazon did it right and it will help them maintain their lead. I have not even scratched the surface of what my new Echo is capable of in and of itself, let alone all of the other devices that Amazon has allowed Alexa to be included in. Google and Microsoft will have their share, but I think that first-mover status in this case is a big advantage.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Will Millennials lead a resurgence in home cooking?

    The answer is yes. I have two of my own, one that is married and the other in a serious relationship and they both are great cooks. I wish I could say the same for myself. Millennials are foodies. Yes, they are out a lot and I have no idea how they do it -- especially in such expensive cities like NY and D.C., but they love to cook at home as well. They are adventurous and jump online for new things to try and are not afraid of experimenting with their own twists on a theme.In fact, it is my daughter's birthday today and what is one of the things she wanted? A pressure cooker so that in her time-pressed crazy days, she could come home to something that will be delicious and most likely much healthier and certainly less expensive than eating out. Restaurants and bars need not worry. Millennials will still show up but they will also led the charge to expertly prepared home cooked meals and that is a very good thing.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2017

    Should workers have the right to disconnect?

    This is a slippery slope. Most workers today, especially those that have grown up with having a phone tethered to their hands, want to have it both ways.If you are going to have a work environment where you can do your work from anywhere with the flexibility to do that work at any time, there must be trade offs. If an employer allows total flexibility, then asking employees to respond after normal hours is justified.If in fact we are talking about staff that come in and work a normal day and you continue to expect them to work after hours and on weekends, then there does need to be limits. At the end of the day, technology gives us all freedoms we never had before. I remember a quote from the ad agency days that went something like this, "If you don't come in on Saturday, don't bother showing up on Sunday."
  • Posted on: 01/03/2017

    Should Costco raise its membership fees?

    Yes, I believe they are and yes, I see them being challenged as well by Amazon and others. Costco has better quality fresh foods as compared to what Sam's offers, and I don't want to order meats and fish from Amazon. Costco also has a great selection of berries, both fresh and frozen, which are great in smoothies, and they have a nice selection of other categories that are "good for you." The rotisserie chicken is probably the best you can buy and the salmon is also very good.Do I want my membership fee to go up? Of course not, but the price/value at Costco is excellent and for my money, I think they are doing a good job. Having said that, we order quite a few items from Amazon but fresh food is usually not part of the order.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2016

    How are manufacturers failing retailers?

    Obviously this discussion has hit a nerve and rightfully so. We, as an industry, have been talking true collaboration forever and change has certainly not been happening fast enough for both sides. There are many things that need attention and my fellow BrainTrust contributors have already addressed many of them.I believe the most important change that will lead to action is to strategically work together to grow the category and not just your brands. The buyer will not and should not listen to manufacturers that talk "partnership" but only push their brands instead of helping the buyer grow the category. If you work to grow the category for the retailer, the rest will take care of itself. There needs to be a longer-term view. Furthermore, until senior management from both the manufacturer and the retailer allow this longer-term view, we will be talking about this same issue year after year. Quarterly results do not make for a sustainable growth strategy.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2016

    Starbucks launches its own branded web cartoon

    It's all about relevance and, in the case of Starbucks, they are trying to be more relevant to Millennials. I would not be surprised if some episodes take a swipe at the narrative offered by Ric Rhinehart, but in this case to try and change that perception.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2016

    Brands want more insights from retail POS data

    First of all, Mark and Adrian are absolutely correct in their comments. I've said for a long time that data does not equal insights and insights alone are not enough. Only actionable recommendations move the needle. If the manufacturer and retailer cannot agree on an actionable recommendation then nothing happens. All the data in the world does not change this simple fact. Many of our clients do use POS data, but mostly along with many other data sources including syndicated, panel, shopper and other data sets that allow for a richer set of facts, to arrive at insights that hopefully will lead to action.The challenge with getting from data to actionable insights and recommendations is the data prep. This is the biggest time hog of an analyst's day. Data is messy and there is a good deal of work involved to get it ready for reporting. Adding disparate data sources, which is critical for a seat at the table with the most sophisticated retailers, makes it even harder and more time consuming. There are tools, from us and others, that do a really good job of significantly reducing this data prep time from days and weeks to minutes.The reason this is important is that if you don't give the analyst tools to clean the data, you will burn them out. Another reason is speed. One of the most challenging hurdles most manufacturers need to overcome is speed to insights. If you don't have a process to prep the data and get the reporting out to the field with deliverables that are simple to understand and simple to present -- fast -- you will be at a huge disadvantage to those that do. It can be done, but organizations need to make a commitment to this and not just give it lip service.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2016

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Goes Global: Week 3

    It is hard to say which is better as they are both excellent in both story and production values. I think the Edeka spot speaks to the unfortunate reality of the stress we all endure during the holidays and the longing for a more simple joy -- that of spending time with loved ones. We all seem to get way too caught up with everything being perfect when what really matters most are not the things we get from retailers but the things we get from ourselves and our families.I do think that this spot would work for a U.S. retailer with the tag line, "We make it as easy for you as possible so that you spend less time with us and more time with your loved ones."
  • Posted on: 11/22/2016

    Patagonia to donate all Black Friday profits to green groups

    When we have a President-Elect who does not believe in global warming nor any of the world's most serous scientists, Patagonia should be supported by all for their efforts here. It will prove to be a worthwhile initiative both for the planet and for Patagonia's bottom line. I will make sure I shop there because of this and hopefully their loyal customers will as well.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2016

    Will Alexa-exclusive deals bring holiday cheer to Amazon?

    Way too easy to shop this way and way too easy to become habit forming. Nonetheless, it will catch on and all the other players who are trying to catch up to Amazon confirms this. It may not be significant this year but wait a year or two and it will be as ubiquitous as getting your coffee at Starbucks.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2016

    Will hundreds of small stores produce big results for Target?

    College towns and urban areas are smart moves for Target. Anyone that has dropped their kids off at college knows that a trip to Target is part of the plan. The crowds at that time of year prove it. Urban areas will be a good move as well, as long as they accurately plan the store layout, assortment and shopability. One is going in near my neighborhood in Manhattan and there is no reason why most typical categories will not be welcomed, especially if it saves having to make a trip to the far reaches of NYC where there may be a larger-format Target, especially as the location where this one is being built was the site of one of the few remaining gas stations in Manhattan. Perhaps, this factor alone is what has prompted Brian to execute on this strategy, at least in NYC. I wish him luck as this would be welcome.

Contact Zel