When I was at the Qonnections 2011 Partner Summit in Miami (see this related blog post), I met Douglas Robbins and Rakesh Mehta of QlikView partner DI Squared. DI Squared is an Atlanta-based solution provider focused on QlikView implementations that feature huge data sets, complex data models, and integration with SAP and other ERP systems.
This week I spoke with Doug and Rakesh in more detail about "a-ha" moments they've experienced with QlikView. They told a story about a large manufacturing company where they both worked, where Doug was VP of applications and Rakesh was IT director.
The business problem: no cohesive view of customer profitability
At this manufacturing company, executives had limited visibility into customer purchases, the profitability of customers by product line and overall, and market share across various product lines. As a result, executives would go out on the road and sit down with a customer only to find out that they were trying to sell customers products they didn't really want or need. They had limited ability to cross-sell into accounts, or to focus their efforts in such a way as to increase market share against competitors. What the sales executives needed was a single view of the customer that showed what customers had and hadn't purchased, as well as customer profitability from high level down to the finest level of detail.
The technology problem: no way to get at the "mother of all cubes"
For many years, the IT organization had tried to produce a single view of the customer out of the company's SAP Business Warehouse (BW). BW contained a complex, highly customized OLAP cube that had more than 100 million large records and lots of fields. The complex design was needed to meet the needs of the company's global sales organization and attempt to get a 360 degree view of the customer.
Many times, the IT team tried to access this cube to produce a single view of the customer. They tried Business Objects, Cognos, and Microsoft. Nothing worked--until a QlikView consultant came in.
The solution: a QlikView-based customer cockpit
Within a week, the QlikView consultant created a customer dashboard, leveraging data in the SAP system. It was "amazing to see," in Rakesh's words. There on one screen was all the relevant data about the products a customer had purchased and profitability of the customer by product line as well as overall. Users could make selections to filter the data any way they liked: by product, customer, region, profitability, etc.
Behind the scenes was a complex data model like the one shown above. But the business user experience was clean and straightforward?and users were not restricted by limited data or predetermined drill paths. Executives could now take customized printouts from the QlikView-based customer cockpit with them on their travels, to prepare for their sales calls. Reports contained info about the top accounts in the region based on whatever criteria the user wanted. Executives had never had this level of insight into customer profitability before.
What made QlikView so compelling?
In addition to rapid time to value, QlikView stole the show due to:
- Transparency. The IT team had confidence in QlikView because they could see and review every line of script. This was a very different experience from dealing with consultants who worked with traditional BI solutions?they would come in, work for many days, and leave a black box behind.
- Flexibility. Rakesh and Doug?and the executives they supported?were impressed by the ease with which they could add dimensions and dril -downs into detailed data in new ways. Previously unheard-of flexibility was a huge part of the "a-ha" experience.
As a result of its success with QlikView, the company decommissioned SAP's BW for sales and marketing users. This generated huge IT cost savings. And once Doug and Rakesh understood the ease and speed of deploying quality BI solutions to businesses, they were sold on becoming a QlikView partner and helping other businesses achieve similar quick time to value. Thus the launch of DI Squared.