Everybody from the top down must understand the importance of the data — even individuals who never use an analytics tool or see a business report, agrees John Lucas, director of
park operations at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
“In achieving success, the key has been allowing our project
to be steered by the people who are influential in the organization — those who can make budgetary decisions and set strategy and vision, as well as people who are directly responsible
for the success or failure of the business, specifically revenue,”
says Lucas. “But the pervasiveness is core.” He spearheaded the
decision to foster an enterprisewide culture of BI at the zoo,
and he selected the IBM Cognos tools that IT now supports for
The zoo was one of the first visitor attractions to take on
such a deep BI project, and Lucas frequently shares his experi-
ences in speaking engagements around the country. “The No. 1
thing I tell people is, if you don’t succeed on making everybody
understand, embrace and participate in the process, you really
shouldn’t do analytics,” he says. “The cultural buy-in is key to
reaching your full potential with analytics.”
Lucas says he likes to tell zoo employees, “If you can imagine
it, we can measure it,” and he has hosted company wide meet-
ings to drive home that message. Even front-line cashiers, who
are typically college kids working summer jobs, have to know
that the data they gather — patrons’ ZIP codes, for example
— is critical to the zoo’s success. And because the BI team has
taken the time to convey that message, he says, “almost literally
every day, somebody comes up with an idea on how we can use
business analytics to drive the needle for us.”
Ongoing efforts to make BI pervasive do pay off, White agrees.
“At the companies we survey, we see pervasive use of business intelligence being tied to better business performance. So
those business functions that have access to business intelligence are able to make better-quality and timelier decisions in a
way that impacts the business in a positive way,” he says.
But you have to remember that making BI pervasive involves
constant learning, says 1-800-Flowers.com’s Bozzo.
“We’re always learning and discovering new tricks,” he says.
Here are three examples of the bottom-line impact of building
an enterprisewide culture that embraces bi.
n 1-800-Flowers.com: Prior to mother’s Day, business users
noticed in real time that a particular product was selling strongly.
So they quickly created an express checkout process that shaved
two to three minutes off the average call time, says cIO Steve
bozzo. “every minute — or every second, for that matter — can
mean tens of thousands of dollars in reduced costs,” he says. “but
more important than that, we surveyed callers and found an increase in customer satisfaction.”
n Allconnect: Since all employees were trained in bI and
“That’s not to say we’re not already getting enormous benefit
from our BI efforts, because we are — day in and day out. We’re
just greedy — we want even more.” u
schultz is a longtime IT writer and editor in Chicago.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
equipped with bI tools, sales for the first quarter of 2011 were up
26% over the same period in 2010, says bobby Nix, director of
business intelligence and analytics. “We believe that what we’ve
been able to do from a bI perspective has changed the conversations for front-line sales, saving a ton of time and really helping to
coach associates on the best sales opportunities,” he says.
n Cincinnati Zoo & botanical garden: After the zoo went live
with bI, decisions that were made regarding its food and beverage
services led to a 30.7% per-capita increase in sales from October
2010 through the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same
period a year earlier, says John Lucas, director of park operations.
“If I read this somewhere, I’d treat it with skepticism,” he says.
“but I assure you these are real, auditable, public numbers.”