Business Intelligence for Process Industries:
Actionable Insights for Business Decision Makers
© 2008 New Paradigm Learning Corporation
result, internal clients were unhappy with BI’sinappropriate solutions and producers of reports feltoverworked and underappreciated.The solution to the problem is to democratize BI: createeasy-to-use visual and interactive tools that the averagebusiness decision maker can use themselves without ITsupport. We live in a world where literally billions of users interact on a regular basis with the simplifiedinterfaces of Google and other search systems. Thesesystems work because they present information in a visualway and make the interface as simple and accessible aspossible, so that any user can ask questions and get thedesired, context-sensitive answers. Business intelligencesystems are building similar easy-to-use visual andinteractive tools so that all users can create their ownreports.One simple to use, next generation tool is Polestar,available from Business Objects, an SAP company.Whereas new reporting solutions once were only suitablefor technically-savvy software developers, Polestarenables business users to explore data without priorknowledge of data structures or content. Polestar bringstogether the simplicity and speed of search capabilitieswith the trust and analytical power of BI tools, givingimmediate answers to business questions. Users employfamiliar keyword searches to find information hidden indata sources, and then navigate and explore directly ondata—no existing reports and metrics are necessary. Byincreasing self-service BI and maintaining IT control, thistechnology empowers business users to create theircontent thereby reducing IT report creation backlog. Itreuses existing security, metadata, and other services fromBusiness Objects Enterprise, meaning it’s easy toadminister and quick to deploy, often in a matter of days,thereby abbreviating time to market and expeditingdecision making.
In addition to the improved insight and effectiveness thatbetter tools deliver, many software vendors are usingindustry-savvy BI experts to create templates specificallyfocused on solving an industry’s business challenges.These templates include pre-defined data models, queriesand metrics that incorporate industry best practices.In process industries, for instance, virtually all firms areinterested in how variations in energy prices, input costs,exchange rates and shipping rates will affect businessoutcomes. Although the relative importance of theseinputs may vary by firm, there is no doubt that all firmswill be affected and pre-defined templates can shorten thedecision making cycle. The amount of data available in BI
Breakout Case Study: Rohm and Haas
Rohm and Haas is a leading global specialty materialscompany that operates in industries as diverse asconstruction, electronics, food, industrial process andpersonal care. The company does business in NorthAmerica, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, and hasmore than a hundred manufacturing, technical research andcustomer service sites in 27 countries, over 16,500 highlyqualified employees, and annual sales of $8.2 billion in 2006.Rohm and Haas competes through outstanding innovation inscience, business and services, and their businessintelligence systems are a key component of the data-drivendecision making that backstops their innovation efforts.
Good business intelligence is essential for Rohm andHaas. The company buys more than two million tons of rawmaterials and 23 million BTUs of natural gas each year in anenvironment of rapidly changing prices and exchange rates.Many decisions are made on the spot with no time toschedule a meeting or engage in “duelling spreadsheets.”
Despite this difficult economic environment, the companyhas maintained and even grown profit by utilizing their BIprogram to drive decision making. One senior executivestated that the BI program gave the company “confidence”—not just in the data’s accuracy, reliability and timeliness, butalso in the data’s usefulness for making important decisionsand getting consensus that wasn’t possible before.In addition to its day-to-day success, Rohm and Haas’ BIprogram offers them another important advantage. In theindustries where the company competes, mergers andacquisitions are a fact of life and Rohm and Haas is a player.For many firms, one of the downsides of growth throughacquisition has been integrating business and IT. Rohm andHaas exercises a “1 company, 1 measure” discipline thatapplies to existing units and newly integrated acquisitions.No matter the business, the company makes investmentdecisions based upon the same criteria, with the additionalbenefit that employees can move from unit to unit and stillhave a common “language.”Despite the success of their traditional BI deployment, thecompany is not resting on its laurels. Masciandaro is a BIvisionary, and grasps the need to consider “both ourstructured reporting and analytics, as well as our EnterpriseContent Management, which embodies the unstructureddata, including documents and emails all the way throughinformal pieces of competitive intelligence. We need tomerge it all together for true business advantage.”