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What’s the Point of Data, if You Can’t Drive the Business With it?

Posted: 14th July 2017 by Finance Monthly
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Rob Mellor, General Manager at Wherescape, explains the process from data to decision, and how any business, large or small, needs to make its data amalgamation efficient in order to move forward.

They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can endure. Having moved recently, I can confirm the old adage rings true! And this was despite paying extra for packers to do all the 'hard work'. But here's the thing: the packers didn't really save us much time because prior to them arriving, we had to spend weeks sorting and prepping our belongings into the right piles to then be boxed and shifted! This is effectively what data architects have to do if they choose not to automate the building of a data warehouse.

Imagine if I could automate the sorting of all my belongings into neatly organised boxes. Then imagine if I could automate the sorting of many families’ belongings without having to visit their houses - even taking into account the unique requirements that each individual customer has. In effect, this is what solutions like WhereScape do: help businesses to intelligently automate the gathering of data, and allow them to dramatically speed up the time it takes to drive value from it. Automating the process of data gathering can drive real business value and provide a flexible, templated approach to automation, personalised for every business requirement.

To give a real world example, Xerox Financial Services (XFS), a $2bn business spanning 14 countries, has the challenge of putting all kinds of data requests into its data warehouse and producing rapid, accurate business intelligence for its local leasing companies across 14 countries. The rapid growth of the company led to business structures growing up in parallel, creating disparate data and variations in business processes. In the past, these data sets had to be looked at in individual silos because of their breadth and complexity. This meant getting an accurate overall picture took so long that often the information was out of date by the time it was delivered.

XFS now consolidates and transforms all of its data sets into a harmonised model using WhereScape. Integrating multiple tables of data from each source has enabled XFS to create a variety of management reports, including an up-to-date snapshot of sales performance on a daily basis, allowing senior management to ensure targets are hit.

Over the last year, XFS has doubled the number of automated processes yet maintained data quality and decision making. Whereas previously the business had to rely on a monthly 'cycle' of data, it now uploads data every day allowing agile, fast and effective decision-making based on relevant, timely snapshot and trend data. By automating this data collection process, XFS can also engage more effectively with its partners. Through monitoring the value of each relationship, they have a better understanding of the number of proposals sent in by customers, average deal size and the number of order agreements. And the most tangible outcome? The level of automated credit decision-making has increased significantly without compromising the credit quality of the portfolio with complex statistical modelling being supported by data collected daily and transformed by WhereScape. This is a huge leap forward for XFS.

The only value of data is its ability to drive the right business decision. Yet we constantly see businesses failing to do this because of avoidable failures in how they manage it. The automation process XFS has deployed with WhereScape demonstrates that it doesn't have to be that way. There is a choice, and choosing the right process will drive a significantly improved commercial outcome. Now, if I can come up with something similar for helping with my packing the next time I get to move house..!

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