by Stephanie Overby

How Analytics Tools Measure a Corporate Turnaround

Aug 22, 20133 mins
Business IntelligenceEnterprise ApplicationsROI and Metrics

SAP's HANA database and other tools power an executive dashboard at struggling medical device maker Boston Scientific

When Mike Mahoney took over as CEO of medical device maker Boston Scientific in 2012, the challenges were clear: the company was losing money and the markets for its biggest businesses were stagnant or shrinking.

Mahoney slashed spending, cut jobs and made select acquisitions. But what he really thinks can save the company in the long run is information — better, more consistent information available quickly to everyone, from the executive team down to the interns.

Mahoney, who spent more than a decade at metrics-driven GE, “is a very technology-focused guy,” says Boston Scientific CIO Rich Adduci. “He understands how transformative information can be to a business.”

CIOs must step up as other senior leaders demand data, says Phil Schneidermeyer, a partner with search firm Heidrick & Struggles. “With the management team’s awareness that IT stores data which can help them grow and manage their business, the expectation rises for the CIO to provide easy-to-use, self-service tools that allow for real-time analysis.”

Previously, different corporate groups at Boston Scientific developed their own metrics, resulting in more than 1,300 indicators tracked monthly. As Mahoney announced his plans, including new product lines and a focus on growth in China, India, Brazil and Russia, he wanted to align the groups, Adduci says, “so we are all talking about the same things instead of wasting time debating whose information was right.”

The company began working on a new enterprise performance management (EPM) system. First, says Adduci, corporate leaders narrowed thousands of metrics down to 40, using input from various businesses, regions and functions. They decided to track not just descriptive but also predictive metrics. For example, measures like employee attrition illustrate what has already happened, but a measure of employee engagement might indicate who will stay or go in the future. (See “Invasion of the Data Scientists,” Page 30.)

IT used agile development to roll out the first version of EPM, which is based on SAP’s BusinessObjects and HANA database platform, starting with just 20 metrics. Now IT is doing the hard work of connecting those measures, which appear on the executive dashboard, down to the transaction level.

“As questions about performance come up, analysts will be able to quickly drill down to the specifics,” says Adduci. “In the past, you’d have to send someone off to research that. This will eliminate the need for those archeological expeditions.”

This requires great attention to master data management. “The more you try to link up everything, the more you find that what one person calls a sold unit or a dollar of revenue is different from the way another person defines it,” he says. “Tackling that is one of our biggest challenges because the power is in getting everything to be the same.” Next, IT plans to roll out a mobile version so anyone–senior leaders, clinicians, sales staff–can access the EPM system from anywhere.

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