Overview of Use Case
British American Tobacco (BAT) has been in the tobacco business for 115 years and are in more than 200 markets, where they sell tobacco and nicotine-based products. Learn about BAT’s journey with Alteryx, from introduction to the platform in 2016 to where they are today. Dive into the successes, hiccups, and challenges they faced while scaling Alteryx in a tightly-governed organization. BAT discusses the need for strong, senior-stakeholder support and gives compelling reasons for spreading data literacy and encouraging a data-driven way of working. Using Alteryx, they managed to complete their previous work in six weeks and generated £7 million in benefit in their first year.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
Dharini Chandrashekhar, an Operations Analytics + Insights SME at BAT, explains they are at crossroads where smoking is at an all-time low. As an industry, she believes they need to innovate and reinvent themselves as an organization that uses its data as an asset to understand customer needs to better predict and act accordingly.
As a large organization, BAT has a lot of data that is primarily within SAP.
- They want to understand their data better and use it to give them the insights needed to make better decisions for their business. A common challenge faced is IT is extremely protective of its data and solutions and it can often takes months to make changes .
- They want to do work in a transparent and agile manner, yet want it managed within the boundaries of governance.
- They want a ‘fail fast’ way to innovate and prove that something will succeed or fail.
Innovation is not easily accomplished because of day-to-day responsibilities. In order to be able to innovate, time is needed, and often the tools that large enterprises use don't enable them to do that. That's where Alteryx comes into the picture.
Describe your working solution
Their first engagement with Alteryx was in late 2016. By the next year, they started to roll out Alteryx with a small team of users, Dharini was one of them. They did not have any senior stakeholder engagement or support right from the start, so started doing things independently to understand how to use Alteryx to get insights. Around the same time, they had a use case from a product team, which was around reducing complexity in the product portfolio. The team at BAT felt that they had too many products and they were trying to sell within too many markets, reducing focused engagement with their consumers. They focused their efforts on solving this problem and determining what analysis they needed.
As they started their analysis, the team found that it was incredibly difficult because all of the data sat within SAP, and that was heavily governed. In SAP, there is a rule called DRG, which doesn’t allow you to take data out of SAP to analyze. This was a huge hinderance for them. All their conventional solutions, like BI, would have been impossible, or it would have taken them a year or more to deliver. Using Alteryx, they managed to complete their work in six weeks, generating £7 million in benefit in their first year. They worked on a variety of other use cases in effort to get management’s buy-in.
In 2018, they signed an adoption deal with Alteryx so they were able to hand out licenses to people who had an interest in understanding their data. From 8 users in 2017, they expanded their footprint to 70, in just over a year.
In 2019, they extended their adoption deal with Alteryx and installed Alteryx Server, so they could be able to share their solutions and workflows with other parts of the business, reducing the need for employees to reinvent the wheel. Also, this year they started a program called Data Reporting and Analytics, which has come with senior stakeholder engagement. They finally got management board approval and Alteryx has been included in the roadmap.
There are so many different tools to perform data analytics but Alteryx is one, complete platform that does a lot of that quite well. At BAT, they know how to use Alteryx for ETL
BAT is currently standing up an enterprise data platform as a part of their Data and Analytics Program. They have a lot of data but it’s not always integrated and they hope to achieve that with their enterprise data platform. It has taken them quite a long time to get where they are and they are still in the process of setting this up but Dharini believes Alteryx is going to be crucial for their next phase.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
Alteryx can do a lot of things for them. It helps to get the people in the organization thinking about the questions they should be asking of their data, not just the reports they are generating. At BAT, Alteryx is directly connected to their Business Intelligence tools and delivers crucial insights for the business. In the past, they used to spend more than 60% of their time just downloading and cleaning up data, without doing any analytics before projecting the data to Power BI for visualization. Based on the analysis BAT has done, this activity takes up more than 60% of a shared service resource time and they have done a lot of work using Alteryx to reduce that. Nowadays, they use Alteryx to automate a lot of manual processes and perform data cleanse and preparation.
At BAT, they found Alteryx was extremely useful for two purposes.
- Innovation: They have been able to do things they would have never been able to do with their traditional data warehousing tools and visualization tools.
- They also used Alteryx as a platform to do proof of concepts and get approval from management.
The way Dharini adopted Alteryx was a bottom-up approach, to which she thinks has benefitted their organization. “What you want first is for people in your organization to start thinking about data differently: think beyond KPIs, think beyond reporting in Excel spreadsheets.” She suggests, “that if you have a strategic program with top-down support, then that's fabulous. But if you don't, then the best way of doing it is via baby steps: do proof of concepts, challenge your business, don't always just take a requirement - go away and build a report, talk to people - make sure that you have evangelists in your organization who are able to speak to business people as well as to technical people.” At BAT, there is an internal community. While they use the external Alteryx community, the pride themselves on having an open knowledge-sharing community where they encourage people to come in and ask question.
The entire PowerPoint presentation can be found here.