Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Managing in Real Time

The August 21, 2011 issue of Forbes has an overview of Proctor & Gambles technology drive to manage in real time (The Matrix of Soap: P&G is serious about managing in real time by Quentin Hardy).

Several interesting and key points in the article - -
  • The goal is to harness massive streams of data for managing a business better.  The "Business Sphere" is a good example of the technology - -  two enormous and curved computer screens that provides a view into the four billion times each day that P&G products are used in more than 80 countries.  Change the view and you can see toothpaste prices in India and a sales comparison that shows local brands are gaining share.  Another view might show shampoo sales in Australia.
  • The Sphere is the sum of 14 different technologies from multiple vendors.  The data from the Sphere is used by managers in 40 locations worldwide.
  • The technology is a combination of high-speed networking, data visualization, and high speed analysis.  The tools have compressed the time to make decisions from weeks to minutes.
  • The company talks in terms of increasing the amount of collected data sevenfold.
  • This is particularly interesting - - they have started a "digital skills" inventory of its employees, establishing a baseline of skills, including how to get connected to the Internet, how to use basic collaboration and knowledge-exchanging  tools for online meetings and mail, and how to tap into the company's internal social network, P&G Pulse.
  • Mobile apps and iPads have helped to push productivity up by 20% in some areas of the company.
  • 81 core business traits, like sales and finance, that run the company have been identified.
  • This is also good - - the company has an "Immersion Lab" that employees can test out working across time zones on wall-size video screens, and projecting business and social network information on man-sized "holopanes" of glass.  There is a mock hotel room where managers try out a score of different mobile devices, building confidence in working anywhere on the kind of tablet or phone they like.
  • "We want to turn the information technology problem into a business opportunity."

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