Procter & Gamble CIO Filippo Passerini says he plans to increase fourfold the number of company staff with expertise in business analytics.
Passerini is building that expertise at a time when P&G is cutting costs in other areas, including eliminating 1,600 nonmanufacturing jobs. The company's IT organization itself has cut $900 million in total spending over the past nine years.
Passerini is investing in analytics expertise because the model for using data to run a company is changing. The old IT model was to figure out which reports people wanted, capture the data, and deliver it to the key people weeks or days after the fact. "That model is an obsolete model," he says.
The new model Passerini envisions is something of a virtual, instant-on war room, where people huddle in person or by video around the needed data, pulling in the right experts to fix a problem the moment it arises. This decision-making environment requires better collaboration via easy-to-use video, more real-time data, and business analytics expertise. It might not sound revolutionary in concept. But listen to the details, as I did in a recent discussion with Passerini at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters, and it's clear how far this new strategy is from where we've been.
[Want more on P&G innovation strategy? Read our chief of the year profile of CIO Filippo Passerini. ]
One building block is high-quality videoconferencing, because people solve hard problems faster and better when they can see one another, Passerini maintains. P&G has been an avid user for several years of room-sized Cisco telepresence systems. The video is used as part of a collaboration environment P&G calls Business Sphere, which CEO Bob McDonald and his executive council use to collaborate with colleagues worldwide. It combines video with large screens that display data visualizations on sales, market share, ad spending and the like, so everyone in the meeting is seeing the same information. In the past year, P&G added 50 smaller Business Sphere systems around the world, giving more people access to the technology.
Passerini's team is working on a video platform that broadens access even more by letting people join in regardless of the video system they're using, whether it's Cisco telepresence or WebEx or FaceTime. That would mean a key team member can video in from an iPad, Droid smartphone, or PC if need be.
In terms of data, this strategy needs the right real-time data. What's real time? The goal P&G's working toward is that as soon as data is collected, it's available for use, Passerini says. P&G isn't after new data types; it still wants to share and analyze point-of-sale, inventory, ad spending, and shipment data. What's new is the higher frequency and speed at which P&G gets that data, and the finer granularity. Passerini says P&G has about two-thirds of the real-time data it needs.