In the fast paced world of computer sales, you can’t wait for reports when customers need quick answers and the competition is bearing down hard. Success depends on having the right information at the right time.
At Dell, like many other companies, the sales organization uses business intelligence (BI) tools to identify new opportunities, optimize sales forecasts and drive strong customer relationships. “Our salespeople use BI to measure if their trips are turning into quotes, if quotes are turning into orders, or how well they’re selling compared with others in the organization,” says Bart Crider, the company’s director of enterprise business intelligence. “They need that information quickly.”
Replacing an antiquated system
But Dell’s legacy BI system was struggling to keep up with the sales organization’s need for real-time access to analytics reports and data. It was slow and cumbersome. Sales people had to submit a request to IT for each report and then wait for days, or weeks, to get the results. They also lacked consistent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as sales pipeline, forecasts and revenues, making it hard to monitor performance. Sales reps spent nearly 80
percent of their time accessing and manipulating data from multiple source systems, leaving them with little time to focus on actual sales and customer relationships.
Empowering sales with self-service BI
To address these shortcomings, Dell decided to implement a more self-reliant, next generation data management and BI platform. As speed is so important, the company wanted an in-memory database management system which relies on main memory rather than disk for storage, making it much faster than traditional systems. “We had been looking at the SAP HANA appliance for a long time, and we saw it would give us the performance and flexibility the business was looking for,” Crider explains in the detailed business challenge description.
Why Dell won first prize
The new Dell SAP HANA solution was rolled out to 14,000 sales people using agile methodology from development to deployment, releasing new features and capabilities every three weeks, as opposed to the several months it would have taken with a traditional system. More importantly, the IT team secured business involvement and validation to meet the needs of the business every step of the way.
With the new system, Dell’s sales representatives have become more data driven and are able to use information in the SAP HANA system to more accurately predict sales outcomes and organize territorial coverage. Since they no longer have to spend time manipulating data or waiting for reports to come back from IT, sales reps are able to spend more time focusing on the customer and new sales opportunities.
In addition, the self-service BI approach has relieved IT of the burden of having to constantly respond to requests for BI reports and analytics from the sales organization. The system has left IT staff with more time to focus on core system development and improvement tasks. And finally, the new system has also given middle management standard KPIs for gauging performance and comparing results across multiple sales teams and regions, while the enterprise leadership team has benefited from information that helps them standardize and manage the business.
That’s why Dell won first prize in the Analytics Wizard category, Business Scenario stream of the SAP HANA Innovation Awards 2015.