Cisco Lays Foundation for More Efficient BI Reports With TimeXtender
“In TimeXtender, we found the perfect complement to our BI solution. It’s a particularly user friendly tool, allowing anyone, even without technical skills, to build the data set he needs using ‘drag & drop’. And without having to rely on the ICT department. Before, it took us three days to build a new BI report, now we fix the job in only 45 minutes. We can say without hesitation that TimeXtender saves us 80% in time.” – Frederic De Meyer, Market Intelligence Manager, Cisco Europe.
Cisco is a leading provider of IP-based network solutions. As a result of continuous technological innovations, defining appropriate product-market strategies proved to be an increasingly difficult challenge. Cisco’s marketing department therefore started looking for a centralized Business Intelligence environment that would address not only internal company information, but also external market data from research agencies. Next to the BI solution TARGIT BI Suite, Cisco found the ideal solution in TimeXtender to allow employees in the marketing department to build their own BI cubes without needing to rely on software development efforts by the ICT department.
After a smooth implementation and a short training programme, TimeXtender today allows Cisco to realize time savings of approximately 80% when building BI reports.
New Products, Segmented Approach
Today, Cisco fully invests in extending the product portfolio of its core architectures: virtualization, collaboration and borderless networking. On top of that, those technologies are marketed through channels that are constantly evolving. New go-to-market models like Cloud Computing, SaaS and Managed Services offer new opportunities to Cisco, but they also constitute a challenge: how to optimize the mix of technologies and sales channels.
Frederic De Meyer, Market Intelligence Manager at Cisco Europe: “The strategic challenge is to bring the right technologies on the market through the right channels. To achieve this, we need a holistic view on our opportunities, combining two different information sources: on the one hand, company information we get from our own ERP systems, on the other hand, data from external marketing agencies.”
Integrating Company Information With External Intelligence
Throughout the company, Cisco runs several business software applications that provide crucial company information, including Oracle Financials and Salesforce.com. However, the real challenge was to complement these internal sources with external market information from research agencies and the results of customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT). This would allow the company not only to better understand market trends, but also to validate and correct the external analysts’ views.
“External research agencies like IDC, Gartner, Canalys and MRA are delivering precious information, but often have to make assumptions that are not necessarily accurate, especially for smaller countries. By crosschecking these data with our own information, we can come up with a more complete and accurate assessment of our opportunity and our position in the market,” says De Meyer.
Towards One BI Solution
In the past, Cisco worked with different systems for Business Intelligence and used no less than 14 different Enterprise Dashboards. Adding to the fact that external market data could not be integrated, this situation became unworkable.
A first challenge was to consolidate everything in one single Business Intelligence solution: the choice fell on TARGIT BI Suite, a powerful Danish solution that was very well supported locally by Targit Benelux.
“Before, it took us three days to build a new BI report, now we fix the job in only 45 minutes. We can say without hesitation that TimeXtender saves us 80% in time.” – Frederic De Meyer, Market Intelligence Manager, Cisco Europe
When looking for a new BI application, the major requirement of Cisco was to find a tool that could contain both the internal and external information in a single, coherent and structured environ- ment. In other words, the company had to build a data warehouse that could combine two totally different information sources.
TimeXtender As Foundation for Business Intelligence
Ronny Luyten, Business Operations Manager at Cisco Europe: “The perceived value of a Business Intelligence solution is at the front end, but 80% of the work goes to building the data warehouse behind it. The reality is that most often the ICT department needs to intervene as traditional tools for building data warehouses are often too technical and require programming skills.”
The use of software code was not an option for Cisco: employees in the marketing department had to be able to build their BI cubes themselves. They had the business knowledge and knew best of all which information sets they needed.
After a short market review, Cisco had the opportunity to evaluate a solution called TimeXtender: “In TimeXtender, we found the perfect complement to our BI solution. It’s a particularly user friendly tool, allowing anyone, even without technical skills, to build the data set he needs using ‘drag & drop’. And without having to rely on the ICT department,” affirms Ronny Luyten.
In a period of only three weeks, TimeXtender was implemented at Cisco. After a two-day training session, the people developing dashboards in Cisco’s Marketing department were sufficiently armed to use all functionalities of TimeXtender without programming one single line of code.
Nothing But Benefits
The use of TimeXtender at Cisco today brings substantial benefits in terms of efficiency. According to Frederic De Meyer, the days when employees had to struggle with complicated Excel sheets are now over: “Before, it took us three days to build a new BI report, now we fix the job in only 45 minutes. We can say without hesitation that TimeXtender saves us 80% in time.”
TimeXtender has become an essential aid for decision making in the marketing department as well as for other decision takers at Cisco Europe: “TimeXtender is a strategic asset for Cisco and the collaboration with our local supplier, is a real partnership. They listen to our suggestions and use them to further improve the product in future versions,” concludes Frederic De Meyer.