This is the second post in a 3-part series on business analytics. My last post discussed the 5 categories of organizations fall under in their use of business analytics. This post will start with my introduction to business analytics, then explain an excellent example of successful analytics implementation.
A few years ago, I was working for an investment bank. My role was to write queries and generate reports. At that time I felt only financial institutions, such as my bank, needed customized reports. Complex business dashboards were required to run their operations because they had large volumes of data and could afford the cost associated with analytics. I later learned that any company, large or small, could benefit from gathering and monitoring key performance metrics.
AstraZeneca is one of my favorite examples of successful business analytics implementation. AstraZeneca is a pharmaceutical company that was founded in 1999 by a merger of Astra AB and Zeneca Group plc. The merger brought data management challenges along as both companies had many data sources and data types.
At that time, AstraZeneca had more than 12,000 research employees across six international locations. Being in the drug development industry, AstraZeneca had a critical need to reduce time-to-market, which is directly related to maximizing project management efficiency, resource utilization and cost control. The biggest challenge faced by AstraZeneca was to find a solution that could provide immediate access to one consistent view of critical R&D information across all six locations.
AstraZeneca developed and deployed an in-house system with the help of an analytics vendor. The system collected data from various sources and stored R&D data in a central data warehouse using the ETL process (Extract, Transform and Load). The system used an analytics solution to query and analyze R&D information.
Users across the six locations were now able to access information on projects, schedules, costs, resources and more. AstraZeneca started using information from other business areas such as finance, manufacturing and marketing. AstraZeneca also implemented dashboard solutions to deliver at-a-glance displays of key performance indicators, both of functional units such as R&D, and of the overall strategic direction of the company led by executive management.
The data management and analytics solution enabled AstraZeneca to track, understand, and manage huge volumes of data created every day from various business units. AstraZeneca researchers, senior management, and other employees now had instant access to one consolidated view of up-to-date R&D information. This helped them make faster and more confident decisions.
Leveraging information, AstraZeneca gained a significant competitive edge by accelerating its time-to-market for new products, leading to quick product launch, and by securing early brand leadership and increased revenues.
(image credit: D.H. Parks)