Dannon Speeds Up Data Preparation and Analysis

By Eileen Feretic Print this article Print
Dannon data preparation and analysis

Producing business reports used to take Dannon's IT team weeks or months, but a new data preparation system enables users to produce their own reports in hours.

How do you ensure that 3 million cups of yogurt are distributed safely, efficiently and cost-effectively every single day? It's not a simple task, especially when it involves 200 different types, styles and flavors of fresh and frozen products. And how can you be agile enough to respond quickly to market changes in a dynamic industry?

That was the situation facing the Dannon Co., a White Plains, N.Y., company that has been making yogurt since 1942.

"Yogurt is a very competitive category," points out Dannon CIO Tim Weaver. "Several years ago, we began to offer Greek-style yogurt to compete with the leader in the field [Chobani]. We had to be agile enough to make necessary business and technology changes quickly.

"We needed to be able to predict sales volumes across our many yogurt types and optimize our ordering process with retailers. To provide that information, we needed analytics-based reports."

In the past, when a business user needed a report, he or she would send the request to IT. This was a time-consuming process that could take 60 to 90 days, with most of the time spent on data acquisition and preparation: formatting, structuring and deduping the data. Clearly, the lengthy process wasn’t working well for IT, which was spending a lot of resources producing the reports, or the business, which needed the reports quickly to make decisions affecting the business.

About two years ago, Weaver and his team began considering how to empower users so they could access and analyze the information they needed and produce the required reports on a self-service basis. They started looking for a solution and came across a company called Paxata in November 2012. After evaluating the solution, Dannon began using Paxata's Adaptive Data Preparation platform in mid-2013.

They did an ROI evaluation comparing the traditional approach to creating reports with the new approach using the Paxata platform. "Using the exact same data sets, the old model took about two weeks of development," Weaver reports, "but it took only two hours using Paxata."

Dannon's business analysts and other employees can use the user-friendly, self-service Adaptive platform to dynamically pull data from various tools and create clean, accurate data, which is then fed into its QlikView analytics tool. Users can analyze the data on products, merchandizing and supply chain efficiencies, and produce desired reports. As a result, the analysts can spend a lot less time on preparing the data and can focus on analyzing it.

The system is currently in limited deployment, but the number of users will increase over time. Weaver notes that only light training is needed, so he does not anticipate a long learning curve.

"We are proactively promoting the system to the business analysts in the hope that they will adopt it," he says. "It's a robust solution, and we aren't even taxing it. Plus, the system's SaaS [software as a service] model will speed up the process of adding improvements in the future. Given everything we've experienced, we're confident that we've chosen the best platform for us."

 Photo Courtesy of the Dannon Company

This article was originally published on 2014-03-26

Eileen Feretic is the Editor in Chief of Baseline.

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