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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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