Pouring in efficiency

It’s an age-old problem. All you want is a single view of your data that can be shared by everybody across your enterprise so you can figure out where your business is going.

But as you go into a meeting, you spend the lion’s share of the time talking about where the numbers came from instead

of what you’re going to do with those numbers.

And so it was at Labatt Breweries of Canada, which used to divide its data by territory, making it difficult to gain a holistic view of the beer company’s performance.

Over the last year, Labatt has deployed corporate performance management (CPM) from Cognos Inc. throughout its organization, to create that single view.

“”From an efficiency perspective, it’s a huge change. People aren’t looking off into five or 10 different reports. It’s all under one house,”” said Mike Ali, change management and enterprise business intelligence manager at Labatt.

Labatt’s IT infrastructure consisted of 11 different systems and 76 transaction sets. Data came from various sources such as HR, ERP and CRM software, as well as external reporting from partners like The Beer Store.

“”A lot of these reports had grown regionally and functionally, so you couldn’t compare apples to apples,”” The CPM tool is designed to link various data sources and provide a common framework through which to generate reports. CPM is a mixture of business intelligence analysis tools, as well as scorecard and predictive elements.

Labatt first employed consulting and systems integration group BearingPoint Inc., which in turn selected Cognos to be the software provider. BearingPoint and Cognos began to build out the system for Labatt in January 2004 and deployed Release 1 in September.

Jeff Bowman, managing director of BearingPoint’s middle-market consulting group, said the company initially provided teams of about six people to serve on the integration project, then scaled back to two.

“”The bulk of the benefit is coming through improved marketing and sales capability,”” said Bowman. “”They’ve got about 300 salespeople. What this solution allows them to do is start at a national level and identify which of their brands, territories (and) outlets are increasing (or) decreasing in market share versus their competitors, versus a year ago.””

With such a dramatic change in data keeping and analysis, Labatt wanted to make sure it was well received by staff.

“”You’ve got stronger technical users and weaker technical users,”” said Ali. “”What we’ve tried to do is make it as simple as possible and very intuitive. By doing that, we’ve been able to get it out in front of them. What are the 10 magic clicks for that individual and how do they work through that information?””

There’s an appreciable difference in the way the company operates, he said, but it’s too soon to tell how the software will affect the company’s overall performance.

But by using CPM, Labatt is able to provide sales and management with a common set of data.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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