For example, business people were able to identify on-time delivery problems in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Through analytics, Ingersoll Rand discovered the use of some incorrect data about supplier lead times. In the past, the company had relied on knowledge of factory employees to identify a problem like this, Fleming says. Also, managers, thinking about efficiency, sometimes waited until the end of each month to enter all the details about some orders. "You don't get that service order in, we can't invoice. If we don't invoice, our accounts receivable balances will be lower than they should be. Then we have a forecasting issue," Fleming says.
After getting accurate lead-time data to the factories, the division changed its service-order process so managers now enter data every week. Revenue forecasting improved measurably, Fleming says. Among respondents to our survey, accounting departments topped the list of beneficiaries of analytics-driven business change. (Read more about the survey in " Cloud Analytics Picks Up the Pace.")
Those kinds of outcomes allowed Fleming to get funding to double the analytics team in his division to about 15 full-timers who help business groups plan and implement analytics projects. "Business made a decision to make a higher investment in it because they saw results."
Analytics tools integrated with customer-relationship management (CRM) or e-commerce systems can also lead to better processes for engaging with customers.
In the past year, CUNA Mutual has used analytics to understand members of the credit unions it serves. The company provides financial products to 7,000 credit unions, and, through the credit unions, to individual members. The number of credit-union members has grown by 14% since 2000, which CIO Roy attributes to people seeking stable alternatives to big banks. But CUNA Mutual's primary customer base is shrinking: The number of credit unions in the United States has dropped 24% since 2000, mainly through acquisitions. To keep the remaining credit unions, and therefore itself, growing, CUNA Mutual has to know what moves credit-union members-the end customers-to buy a new product or service, Roy says.
In 2009, the company launched an analytics project called Voyager, which uses Microsoft's SQL Server database alongside analysis tools from CA Technologies and SAP BusinessObjects to segment its credit union customers by variables such as product, profitability and demographics. The first step was consolidating customer data from sales and marketing systems, as well as systems used by its credit unions, into a single data warehouse. Then business analysts explored the data with canned reports and iterative queries on the fly.