The Decision Maker

Proctor and & Gamble: Creating the Right Analytics Environment

Posted by Aaron Wang on Mar 28, 2012 8:56:47 AM

In a recent InformationWeek interview, Procter & Gamble CIO Filippo Passerini outlined some key innovations P&G has developed to take the organization’s analytics efforts to the next level.

P&G is doing away with the traditional process of determining information requirements, obtaining the data, and developing reports. Believing that the old method was too slow, a faster model was developed. It focuses on creating an analytics-friendly environment providing:

  • video-based collaboration
  • an increased amount of up-to-date standardized data made widely available
  • an increased number of analytics experts

Video-Conferencing

By promoting the use of high-quality video-conferencing, key players can collaborate in real-time regardless of location. Not only do the video meetings allow for a face-to-face experience, but data can be visualized on the same screens for instant sharing and discussion.

Standardized Data Everywhere, Right Away

P&G’s ultimate goal is to allow immediate use of data as soon as it is collected at the lowest possible level of granularity with the widest possible dissemination. At the same time, the types of data are being standardized so users do not need to argue about what data is relevant. Rather, the focus can be on identifying and solving problems.

Analytics “Chauffeurs”

A critical element implemented by P&G was to increase the number of business analytics experts. These people serve as translators between business and IT and are knowledgeable about P&G’s business as well as being technically astute. In practice, these analytics experts participate in the video conferences to find the necessary information and bring the appropriate analysis techniques and tools to bear to supporting faster decision making.

By Chris Murphy – Information Week Feb 27 P 8

Procter & Gamble CIO Filippo Passerini says he plans to increase fourfold the number of company staff with expertise in business analytics.

Passerini is building that expertise at a time when P&G is cutting costs in other areas, including eliminating 1,600 nonmanufacturing jobs. The company's IT organization itself has cut $900 million in total spending over the past nine years.

Passerini is investing in analytics expertise because the model for using data to run a company is changing. The old IT model was to figure out which reports people wanted, capture the data, and deliver it to the key people weeks or days after the fact. "That model is an obsolete model," he says.

The new model Passerini envisions is something of a virtual, instant-on war room, where people huddle in person or by video around the needed data, pulling in the right experts to fix a problem the moment it arises. This decision-making environment requires better collaboration via easy-to-use video, more real-time data, and business analytics expertise. It might not sound revolutionary in concept. But listen to the details, as I did in a recent discussion with Passerini at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters, and it's clear how far this new strategy is from where we've been.

One building block is high-quality videoconferencing, because people solve hard problems faster and better when they can see one another, Passerini maintains. P&G has been an avid user for several years of room-sized Cisco telepresence systems. The video is used as part of a collaboration environment P&G calls Business Sphere, which CEO Bob McDonald and his executive council use to collaborate with colleagues worldwide. It combines video with large screens that display data visualizations on sales, market share, ad spending and the like, so everyone in the meeting is seeing the same information. In the past year, P&G added 50 smaller Business Sphere systems around the world, giving more people access to the technology.

Passerini's team is working on a video platform that broadens access even more by letting people join in regardless of the video system they're using, whether it's Cisco telepresence or WebEx or FaceTime. That would mean a key team member can video in from an iPad, Droid smartphone, or PC if need be.

In terms of data, this strategy needs the right real-time data. What's real time? The goal P&G's working toward is that as soon as data is collected, it's available for use, Passerini says. P&G isn't after new data types; it still wants to share and analyze point-of-sale, inventory, ad spending, and shipment data. What's new is the higher frequency and speed at which P&G gets that data, and the finer granularity. Passerini says P&G has about two-thirds of the real-time data it needs.

Passerini talks about the what, why, and how of a problem. "What" is the problem itself -- is market share stable or has it shrunk two points? He thinks P&G has beaten the what problem by giving 58,000 employees business intelligence "cockpits," which are dashboards that link to common data sources so people spend little time arguing over whose data to use.

"Why" is the cause of a problem -- was it a bad TV ad, out-of-stock shelves, or a competitor's new product or price cut that caused a problem? Right now, the P&G IT team is working on automating analysis of the why, so employees get alerts when key events like a supply chain snafu or rival product launch happen.

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