Data has always been an important factor in marketing, especially when used in business intelligence (BI). Coupled with data, business intelligence tools not only enable companies to improve decision-making and optimise internal business processes, but also drive new revenues.
When it comes to BI solutions, one major challenge companies face is there is no specific team that acts as a bridge between the business and the IT departments to help drive an analytical culture in the company.
“Why we say our BI solutions are well used is because we have someone who is really trying to bring the business and IT side together and align them with each other,” said Carsten Schleicher (pictured), senior area manager of business information management at Tetra Pak, during a recent Smart Data conference organised by Marketing.
The Swedish company established a Business Intelligence Competency Centre (BICC) with the management comprising six full-time employees and a business information management team of three full-time employees. The aim is to drive the analytical culture among its 24,500 employees worldwide, set best practices, as well as deploy and devise the BI strategy.
According to Schleicher, project management is an important skill for BI managers to have. While an individual doesn’t necessarily require IT skills, he or she needs to have an interest in BI analytics. He said:
You need to have an interest in tools and how they work, co-ordination skills and good people skills.
He added that good people skills are required because it can be tough to communicate with individuals from the IT and business departments if they are not from the same field.
To further enhance the efficiency of the BICC, Tetra Pak created four different roles – report owner, BI co-ordinator, BI expert and super user.
“We were struggling for many years with the ownership of solutions. Who is the owner of an analytical report? The business side says it is IT, but IT says it is the business side,” he said.
Hence, all report ownership was transferred to the business side, resulting in the creation of the report owner role. The report owner is responsible for the accuracy of report specifications and answering business-related questions on reports. According to Schleicher, Tetra Pak has about 650 reports and having a report owner for each one of them has “helped a lot”.
Deployed in various geographical regions and in central organisations, the BI co-ordinator oversees the roll out of the BI strategies such as the BI strategy and learning methodology. A BI portal has also been created to allow end users to easily and intuitively access their solutions. This is also managed by the BI co-ordinator, who is tasked with customising the portal for different geographical regions.
To ensure its BI co-ordinators are onboard when driving central initiatives, Tetra Pak holds regular open door meetings and discussion forums for people to voice their opinions. “Open door in a sense that the theme could be relevant to one co-ordinator and not to another, and we leave the door open for those who want to attend.”
The BI expert plays a key role in boosting data literacy across the company. The individual is responsible for ensuring the agility of Tetra Pak’s BI solutions, reducing the time taken to turn the requirement into a solution and creating BI solutions based on existing content on the front end.
According to Schleicher, the IT department is increasingly seen as an enabler of BI solutions rather than a team that should develop reports. Hence, the decision to transfer the responsibility of the BI expert to the business department.
“We don’t expect that these people are IT trained, but of course they shouldn’t be scared of an excel spreadsheet either. They have to have certain skills and the modern BI tools that are now being deployed are increasingly enabling individuals to perform this BI expert role,” he said.
A certification programme inspired by the martial arts colour scheme was also rolled out to recognise employees who take on the BI expert role. If someone has built a first solution, he or she gets the green belt certificate. If they create more than five solutions, they get a blue belt certificate. More than 10 and they get a black belt. Schleicher said:
That has turned out to be extremely successful in our quest of transferring data literacy and analytical capabilities into the business.
Last, the super user acts as the first point of contact for end users, allowing their peers to reach out to them immediately instead of calling someone else in another geographical region. Super users receive training and are expected to train the end users. The concept of open door meetings and discussion forums are also employed for super users, allowing them to voice their opinions and attend meetings relevant to them.