INTERACTIVE SESSION: MANAGEMENT
COLGATE-PALMOLIVE KEEPS MANAGERS SMILING WITH
Colgate-Palmolive Company is the second largest
consumer products company in the world whose
products are marketed in over 200 countries and
territories. The company had 38,600 employees
worldwide and $16.734 billion in annual revenue
in 2011. Colgate has been keeping people smiling
and clean around the world, with more than three-
quarters of its sales in recent years coming from out-side the United States. Colgate’s brands in oral prod-ucts, soap, and pet food, are global names, including Colgate, Palmolive, Mennen, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Protex, Sorriso, Kolynos, Elmex, Tom’s of Maine, Ajax, Axion, Fabuloso, Soupline, and Suavitel, as well as Hill’s Science Diet and Hill’s Prescription Diet.
The secret to continued growth and stability for
the past two decades has been Colgate’s ability to
move its brands off shore to Latin America, Europe
and Asia. In the past, Colgate divided the world into
geographic regions: Latin American, Europe, Asia,
and North America. Each region had its own infor-
mation systems. As long as the regions did not need
to share resources or information this patchwork
system worked, more or less. This all changed as
global operations became more integrated and senior management needed to oversee and coordinate these operations more closely.
Colgate had been a global SAP user since the early
1990s, but it was running five separate ERP sys-
tems to serve its different geographic regions. Over
a period of time, disparities in the data developed
between different geographic regions and between
the data used at the corporate level and the data used
by an individual region or business unit. The data
were constantly changing. For example, every time a
sales report was run, it showed different numbers for
orders and shipments. Colgate wanted more usable
data to drive business decisions and all of its manag-
ers and business units worldwide to use the same
version of the data.
Colgate chose to solve this problem by creating a
single global data repository using SAP NetWeaver
Business Warehouse, SAP’s analytical, reporting and
data warehousing solution. Colgate’s regional ERP
systems feed their data to the warehouse, where
the data are standardized and formatted for enter-
prise-wide reporting and analysis. This eliminates
differences in data across the enterprise. One of the outputs of the warehouse for senior
managers is a daily HTML table showing a series of
financial and operational metrics for the day com-
pared to the previous month and quarter. The data
the executives see is exactly the same as what their peers in all Colgate regions and business units see.
However, the data were not being used by enough
employees in their decision making to have an
impact on business benefits. Colgate’s power users
had no trouble using the reporting and analytical
tools provided by the warehouse, and they were
satisfied with the matrix reports from the system.
Colgate’s senior managers and other casual users, on the other hand, did not feel comfortable running ad hoc reports or drilling down into the layers of data to answer questions the data brought to light. They did not have much time to spend developing reports, and the standard reports produced for them by the warehouse lacked navigation and drill down capabili-ties. Tables had no color coding so users could only interpret the data by scrutinizing the numbers on the table.
Eventually Colgate’s senior managers and other
casual users began requesting deeper access to the
warehouse data in a more timely and user-friendly
format. They wanted reports that were easier to
run and where the data could be interpreted faster.
Senior management requested customizable, real-
time dashboards that could be more easily used to
drive performance improvement.
Colgate’s information systems specialists then
implemented SAP NetWeaver BW Accelerator to
speed up data loads and improve user perception and
adoption and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
to build customized reports. SAP BusinessObjects
Web Intelligence provides a powerful, intuitive
interface that enables business analysts and non-
technical business professionals to ask spontaneous
questions about their data. Casual business users can
use simple drag-and-drop techniques to access data
sources and create interactive reports that drill, slice
and format information based on their needs. Tools
for cutting edge visualization allow end users to view
two- and three-dimensional charts and hone in on
specific areas of focus.
Colgate started using SAP’s BusinessObjects
tools to build user-friendly dashboards, and quickly created dashboard prototypes for management to
review. Once management approved the dashboard design, the dashboards were populated with produc-tion data. Now Colgate’s senior managers are run-ning the dashboards to monitor the business from a high level.
Employee training was essential to the dashboards’ success. Members of Colgate’s global information systems development team created cus-tomized courses for Colgate’s 65 business intelligence experts and ran the classroom training. The training identified people that could be used as resources for developing the reporting tools. When word spread about the dashboards’ capabilities, Colgate’s power users signed up for the classes as well.
For Colgate, better reporting tools that can sup-
port different kinds of users have greatly expanded
the use of business intelligence throughout the
company. Currently about 4000 users interact
with Colgate’s SAP systems daily but this number
is expected to expand to 15,000 to 20,000 users in the future. People who are accustomed to seeing
reports stuffed with numbers are finding that they can use the information presented in dashboards to make faster decisions. For example, managers can determine positive or negative financial conditions by simply looking for where dashboard reports use the color green, which reflects improvements in Colgate’s financial position. Executives who formerly relied on other people to obtain their custom reports and data are able to access the information on their own. They can see real data from the system much more easily and quickly.
computer and networking equipment, overhead projectors, and display screens. Special electronic meeting software collects, documents, ranks, edits, and stores the ideas offered in a decision-making meeting. The more elaborate GDSS use a professional facilitator and support staff. The facilitator selects the software tools and helps organize and run the meeting.
A sophisticated GDSS provides each attendee with a dedicated desktop computer under that person’s individual control. No one will be able to see what individuals do on their computers until those participants are ready to share information. Their input is transmitted over a network to a central server that stores information generated by the meeting and makes it available to all on the meeting network. Data can also be projected on a large screen in the meeting room.
GDSS make it possible to increase meeting size while at the same time
increasing productivity because individuals contribute simultaneously rather
than one at a time. A GDSS promotes a collaborative atmosphere by guaran-
teeing contributors’ anonymity so that attendees focus on evaluating the ideas
themselves without fear of personally being criticized or of having their ideas
rejected based on the contributor. GDSS software tools follow structured methods for organizing and evaluating ideas and for preserving the results of meetings,
enabling non attendees to locate needed information after the meeting. GDSS effectiveness depends on the nature of the problem and the group and on how well a meeting is planned and conducted.
1. Describe the different types of business
intelligence users at Colgate-Palmolive.
2. Describe the “people” issues that were affecting Colgate’s ability to use business intelligence.
3. What management, organization, and technology factors had to be addressed in providing business intelligence capabilities for each type of user?
4. What kind of decisions does Colgate’s new
business intelligence capability support? Give
three examples. What is their potential business
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