Another example of insights that are hard to come by using non-visual analytics is around product affinity in the secondary market, says Choudhury. (The secondary market is at the retail level, the primary market is distributors). "We can find out, for instance, what is selling in the Gariahat Market (a market in Kolkata), and what's selling well with it. That allows us to plan bundles and promotions better," he says.
All those now-visible insights have raked in more sales. "From my estimate, the tool has helped us drive increased sales of between Rs 15-20 crore," says Choudhury — and that's only from the first seven months of the project.
Why Use Visual Analytics, What it Costs, and Skill Requirements
What does visual analytics bring to the table that regular old analytics doesn't? Eveready's example is a case in point.
This isn't Eveready first bout with analytics. Eveready implemented transaction and analytical systems back in 2005. Data from its ERP, supply chain and sales force systems were fed into a data warehouse, and various reports were generated at different frequencies.
But at the start of 2014, Eveready realized it need more. It decided to invest in visual analytics because "it was very difficult to generate insights, and take important decisions, from tabular data. We felt that if we could display this data visually, it would help everyone because more meaningful insights could be had," says Choudhury.
Visual analytics not only opens up insights that are almost impossible to achieve using tabular format analytics, it also speeds up analysis — and decision making. At Eveready, visual analytics has made it so much easier to digest data that the company produces 50 percent more dashboards today, than it did before, which ensures its executives are that much more engaged with the business.
The IT department decided to use Tableau after scanning visual analytics players in the market and shortlisting on three, including Tableau, and SAS. It then used the one-month free version of each, worked with each vendor's representatives, before finalizing on Tableau.
"We decided on Tableau because it was very easy to use and because it is interactive. And also because it fit well into our warehouse," says Choudhury, pointing out some of the parameters that other CIOs might want to keep in mind when they want to invest in visual analytics.
The cost of using Tableau, says Choudhury — including the licenses, servers and storage — works up to about Rs 1.2 crore. Tableau has a simple license mechanism, says Choudhury. You need one set of desktop licenses (which are used by the IT department to develop the dashboards, which are then published to a server) and another set of licenses for the server (which are used by business folk to interact with the dashboards).
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