Users, says Choudhury, cannot touch the underlying data.
How easy it is to use Tableau's visual analytics? Although, one of Tableau's selling points is that it's easy to use companies can liberate data and let anyone look for insights,Choudhury says it still requires a certain amount of programming and an understanding of statistics to create the dashboards. Once the dashboards are made, users can interact with them.
This is why, Choudhury says, IT folk within Eveready create dashboards. It's an important lesson for other CIOs who hope to be able to get a visual analytics tool that gives users free rein.
That said, all it took his department was a single day of classroom training with Tableau at the Eveready office, combined with online tutorials on the Tableau website, before they could start work. It helps that Choudhury has a background in statistics.
Visual Analytics Drives Supply Chain Efficiency
Choudhury says that of all the use cases of visual analytics at Eveready, it's had the most impact on the supply chain.
"Look, at say, inventory holding. Using the tool, we found that we were holding Rs 200 crore of finished goods inventory. That raised a red flag and drove us to re-look inventory norms. We looked at places where inventory holding was greater than the norm, and we corrected it. There, itself, we saved Rs 10 crores in six months," says Choudhury.
It's not like this insight couldn't have been got using a tabular format, "but it would have taken a lot longer. Today if I do a distribution, a simple linear distribution of inventory versus norms, I can find out in which areas it is higher than the norm and where it is lower," he says.
Visual analytics also helped create better controls over raw material inventory. At Eveready, an important raw material is acetylene black, which needs to be imported and therefore requires lead time. The amount that needs to be imported and the frequency of import should be depend on how much existing stock there is. And that's a challenge.
Using analytics in a tabular format made it extremely time-consuming for someone sitting at HQ to find out the company's acetylene black inventory levels from across the country. "Using Tableau, they can quickly find out, by plant, how much inventory there is. And that extremely helpful information," says Choudhury.
That ensures that that Eveready isn't buying raw materials because it wants to be sure it doesn't run out. "Frequent analysis could tell you when to defer or even cancel orders," says Choudhury.
Today, with dashboards created for the sales and supply chain departments, the IT team has moved its focus to operations. They are looking for insights in areas like distribution-plan-versus-actual-dispatch, incidents of stock outs, the preventive maintenance schedule versus machine downtime. Once, that's done, they will move to finance.
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