Background and business issues
Verizon Communications, known for its “Can you hear me now?” marketing campaigns, is more than just a provider of Internet and voice services. The company, which posted revenues of US$120.5 billion in 2013, also operates a sizeable Professional Services division, which helps organizations plan for, design, implement, operate and manage the right technologies to improve the way it does business. From security to cloud to social machines, Verizon takes the complexity out of IT solution management, so clients can focus on running their businesses.
The key to delivering on that promise is management of its people – to put the right person or team, with the right skills, on each client’s project, at the right time.
Verizon, like any large professional services company, relies on analysts crunching through reams of data to provide the crucial intelligence that supports decision-making at every level of the organization.
But the challenge with traditional Business Intelligence (BI) tools is that, while it may be relatively easy to find out what is happening, it’s far more difficult and labor intensive to understand why.
In Verizon’s case, there were different systems for sales, customer quoting, HR, finance, capacity management, billing and talent surveys. Some were custom-developed in-house, while others were vendor-sourced. Verizon’s analysts were bogged down trying to cobble together disparate datasets scattered through many silos in the organization. This made it difficult to understand how Verizon’s key performance indicators were impacting each other.
Although Verizon’s analysts were attempting to find answers, decision-makers within different departments were receiving reports that were not based on one version of the truth, which put the organization at risk to make decisions with unknown consequences.
What Verizon needed was a single, holistic enterprise analytics platform that would give decision-makers the insight and clarity they needed to make the right call, at the right time.
The agile solution
Verizon chose Oracle Endeca Information Discovery (OEID), an agile BI technology that can be layered on top of an existing BI investment. Oracle EID allows you to quickly adapt your data model and bring in additional data sources within days or weeks. It continues to adapt as you use it, and reveal new sources of information that change the way decisions are made every day.
On Oracle’s recommendation, Verizon partnered with RealDecoy to spearhead the implementation. RealDecoy is recognized as the No. 1 Oracle Endeca resource globally, backed by its Oracle EID Specialized Status designation.
An enterprise project of this magnitude is complex and dynamic. In addition to the technical aspects, it often requires a wholesale shift in how people are accustomed to doing their jobs. RealDecoy took the time to understand the subtleties of Verizon’s business, and to structure the project with its classic “crawl, walk, run” model, to ensure as smooth an implementation as possible.
This included requirements gathering, analysis of data sources and existing infrastructure, development of use cases, quality assurance, documentation and training, and rollout. The emphasis was on using demand gap analysis to create a strong foundation that would allow the Verizon team to pick up the ball and run with it.
At present, the implementation continues to roll out and has begun to yield the holistic insight Verizon’s Professional Services division needs to be responsive to the needs of its market, in as cost-effective a manner as possible.
With the clarity and insight provided with Oracle EID, Verizon is gaining the ability to:
- Better anticipate skills gaps in its workforce.
- Proactively hire, to address expected skills gaps before they can negatively impact a project.
- Optimize skills matching, to ensure the right people are on the right part of a project.
- Pinpoint and understand financial variances, such as why hours billed on a project may not accord with initial estimates.
- Accurately forecast trends that impact project completions.
- Improve margins.
As Oracle EID becomes embedded in its organization, and in the minds of its staff, Verizon’s Professional Services division is gaining the insight to better align resources with sales objectives. Analysts spend less time collecting data and more time getting to the truth. And frontline managers have the additional analytics they need to help deliver a positive experience for their clients.