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6 data analytics success stories: An inside look

Clint Boulton | Sept. 6, 2017
CIOs are embracing data analytics to fuel efficiency and growth, but not every effort produces results. Here’s how leading CIOs are successfully tapping data analytics and machine learning to boost revenues or cut costs.

Lessons learned: A key to her success, A'lessandro says, was identifying a "lighthouse" analytics project in an Asia-Pacific plant where Merck would see the biggest payback. Upon demonstrating success with MANTIS there, it became a call to action to other sites. She also learned not to bite off more than she can chew. A'lessandro says she "overreached" in an early experiment to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyzes costs of Merck's manufacturing processes. "It wasn't for lack of sponsorship or lack of visions, we just couldn't get it to work," A'lessandro said.


Dr. Pepper Snapple Group taps machine learning for contextual relevance

For years, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s sales route staff grabbed a fat binder filled with customer data, notes on sales and promotions, and hit the road to woo retail clients such as Wal-Mart and Target. Today, instead of a binder, sales staff are armed with iPads that tell them what stores they need to visit, what offers to make retailers, and other crucial metrics. "They were glorified order takers,” said Tom Farrah, CIO of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. “Now they are becoming intelligent sales people equipped with information to help achieve their goal.”

The platform, MyDPS, is equipped with machine learning and other analytics tools that funnel recommendations and a daily operational scorecard to workers when they load the app. Algorithms that show staffers how they are executing against their expected projections, including whether they are on track to meet their plan, fall below, along with insights as to how they can course correct. “If I am going to make someone successful I have to ensure what info they have is contextually relevant,” Farrah said.

Lessons learned: To test the proof of concept for MyDPS, Farrah gave the software to four people in a branch and had the president of the business go visit them. They revealed that execution sell-in had improved by 50 percent since the previous month after using MyDPS, convincing him to greenlight the project. "He got the result and that's what it took to sell-in,” Farrah said. “That's really important that you not just have the business sponsor for the project but they want the result that it's going to deliver."


Bechtel disrupts itself with big data center of excellence

A little-known fact: Construction-related spending is 13 percent of GDP but the industry as a whole has generated only a 1 percent productivity gain in the past two decades, says Carol Zierhoffer, CIO of Bechtel. Experts say the sector can boost productivity 50 to 60 percent by rewiring contracts, upskilling workers and improving onsite execution, among other tweaks. Bechtel, which built the Hoover Dam, English Channel Tunnel and other marvels, began unearthing insights from data buried in various parts of the business.


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