How P&G uses Data Visualization to uncover new opportunities for growth?

This is the third post in our Data Visualization Spotlight series where we showcase how different organizations are using data visualization and analytics to solve their day to day problems.

With several world famous brands like Pampers, Ariel, Gillette and Olay in its kitty, Procter & Gamble touches 4.4 billion people globally. P&G brands are available in more than 180 countries.  As the world’s largest consumer packaged goods company they have a lot of data.

procter and gamble headquarters

To maintain its global leadership status, P&G has to continuously keep a tab on market trends, respond rapidly to them and find new opportunities to improve the lives of its consumers. The ability to analyze this massive amount of data is critical to running the business in real-time and being responsive to changes in the marketplace.

Under its Ex-CEO Bob McDonald, P&G chalked out an agenda to “digitize ” the company’s processes from end to end to make data easily accessible to its decision makers. Business Sufficiency, Business Sphere and Decision Cockpits were the primary enablers of that agenda.

Business Sufficiency models to focus on exceptions and provide forward looking projections and scenarios

According to an article published in InformationWeek, “the Business Sufficiency program, gave executives predictions about P&G market share and other performance stats six to 12 months into the future. At its core is a series of analytic models designed to reveal what’s happening in the business now, why it’s happening, and what actions P&G can take.

P&G Heatmap

Fig:  The heat map simultaneously shows all the markets in which P&G products compete and their relative share (red indicating low market share and green indicating high market share), and also puts in clear perspective the importance of growing the share of any one of those markets. Source: blogs.hbr.org

The “what” models focus on data such as shipments, sales, and market share. The “why” models highlight sales data down to the country, territory, product line, and store levels, as well as drivers such as advertising and consumer consumption, factoring in region- and country-specific economic data. The “actions” analyses look at levers P&G can pull, such as pricing, advertising, and product mix, and provide estimates on what they deliver.

All these models have three things in common. First, they focus on exceptions, what’s doing better and worse than expected, so P&G executives can learn what’s working and copy it, while heading off the flops. Second, the models are all predictive, and delivered through dashboards, charts, and supplemental analytics served up through data visualization and analysis software. The predictions are continually refined toward the end of each quarter. Third, they show a range of possible outcomes, allowing for what-if scenario planning.

This complex data is presented visually in business processes, allowing decision makers to view the data more easily, process the information faster, and quickly turn insights into actions. Decision makers around the globe see the same business data in the same way at the same time, allowing them to collaborate more effectively.

Business Sphere to allow leaders to actually ‘see’ their data

As the Business Sufficiency models started providing rich data visualizations, P&G’s IT team realized something was missing and after several rounds of brainstorming, the Business Sphere was conceptualized.

Business Sphere P&G

Fig: Business Sphere allows company leaders to harness massive amounts of data to make real-time business decisions. Source: Mckinsey.com

The Business Sphere is a meeting room with a football-shaped conference table at its center surrounded by two 30-foot-wide projection screens. Six different dashboard and data visualization views can be projected across the screens. At each end of the room are smaller displays that let executives in far-flung locations join meetings via video. Remote executives can see the same data visualizations displayed in the meeting room from their laptops or iPads.

To answer a set of questions, the program analyzes and connects as much as 200 terabytes of data (equal to the amount of information contained in 200,000 copies of Encyclopedia Britannica), allowing for unprecedented granularity and customization. The way the data is presented uncovers insights, trends, and opportunities for business leaders and prompts them to ask different and very focused business questions. If one question elicits a follow-up question, it can be addressed with data on-the-spot.

The visualization helps people to “see” the data in ways they would not have been able to with just numbers and spreadsheets. It challenges assumptions while simultaneously presenting the data in different ways, revealing potential solutions that previously may have not been apparent.

P&G has implemented the Business Sphere in more than 50 offices worldwide.

Decision Cockpits to display key information on desktops

Decision Cockpit P&G

Fig: Decision Cockpit makes data available on the desktops of decision makers. Source: blogs.hbr.org

Pursuing with its goal of “information democracy”, P&G has made data available on the desktops of more than 50,000 employees through the Decision Cockpit. In an article published in Information Week, Filippo Passerini, P&G’s Business Services Group President and CIO, explains that “The decision cockpit is focused on forward-looking projections rather than historical reporting, with three-month, six-month and 12-month projected trend lines for market share, cost of goods, and margins. All of the data is drillable, meaning you drop down from the company-wide views to study performance by country, region, brand, and product.

Data offered through the decision cockpit includes business monitoring, end-to-end initiative management, business planning and organizational management, as well as business health assessment, initiative tracker and coverflow—all in one location. Users can add “Favorites,” focusing in on just the data they need. Users also can set their own, personalized default page, cutting down on search time.

With the success of the decision cockpit, P&G has been able to do away with more than 80% of the company’s standardized business intelligence reports. Most users embraced the new approach as more attractive and usable than spreadsheet-based reports sent by email, but in some cases users had to be “forced over the hump” of reliance on the old reports”, Passerini added.

P&G’s single source of truth

Each week, P&G executives across the globe meet in the Business Spheres to review the latest results and forecasts available through the decision-cockpit dashboards. Executives can discuss what to do about gains and losses based available metrics. That might mean adjusting pricing, changing the product mix, changing merchandising approaches or increasing marketing expenditures to regain market share where there are losses or to improve margins where conditions are strong.

What’s different now is that all this data is coming together in the context of the business discussion,” Passerini said. “And because it’s the single source of truth for P&G executives around the globe, it’s not fragmented by geography or management level and, importantly, it’s coming in real time to make better decisions faster in every single business review we do.

Final thoughts:

By eliminating the delay of manually collecting and aggregating data, P&G’s data visualization and analytics systems have improved productivity and collaboration, simplified work processes, reduced the decision-making cycle time, and has enabled them to focus on innovating for the consumer. When data exists outside product and geographic silos and is made comprehensible and accessible, it has the power to create magic, and P&G is a living proof of that.

In the next post of the Data Visualization Spotlight series, read how MailChimp uses Data Visualization to help users better segment and target their subscribers.

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