Is a picture worth a thousand words? Improving decision making with visual analytics.
Master's thesis, University of Twente.
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Procter and Gamble (P&G) is a worldwide producer of consumer goods, having yearly revenues of nearly USD 68 billion. One of the industries in which P&G is active is the pharmaceuticals industry, which accounts for over USD 2 billion of total P&G sales. The pharmaceuticals industry is mainly characterized by the large influence of government regulations, the ever present need for innovation and the fact that sales and marketing focus on physicians (who prescribe the medication) instead of patients, since regulations prohibit direct contact with them. The Western European organization of P&G Pharmaceuticals contains operations in France/Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK/Ireland/Netherlands.
Decision makers (managers) in P&G Pharmaceuticals Western Europe have the need to support their decisions with specific, ad hoc analysis of the data that P&G’s information systems produce, but currently this need is not met. The result is that P&G misses out on large business opportunities (up to USD 1 million). The main reason why the need is not met, is that the Business Analysts (the main responsible for data analysis) do not have enough time to create ad hoc reports, since they mainly work on producing standard reports and data extraction. Furthermore, in the time they do have for ad hoc analysis their output is too low. From a number of possible solutions, this research will focus on the impact that the introduction of Visual Analytics can have on decision making in P&G, answering the following question:
Can the introduction of Visual Analytics as a means of ad hoc analysis improve the decision making process at the MDOs of P&G Pharmaceuticals Western Europe?
Decision making is an interactive process between the decision maker and his external environment. The environment triggers the decision maker to make a decision, define the alternatives, rank them by analyzing data about them, choose an alternative and execute the decision. Visual Analytics is an analysis method based upon the principles of data visualization; creating a picture of a (large) data set makes it easier to see trends and relationships in the data and the visual and intuitive interaction with the data makes it quicker to find results. Combining these two shows that Visual Analytics can improve the data analysis phase in decision making and therefore create the needed capacity for ad hoc analysis. Furthermore, because of the intuitive interaction, decision makers can be more involved in the data analysis process, which will make their decisions more rational and decisions can be communicated to the people executing them more effectively.
Executing the a number of research strategies has shown that Visual Analytics influences the decision making process in P&G Pharmaceuticals Western Europe positively in a number of ways. Most clearly the efficiency of the ad hoc analysis process has been improved by 50%, which is significantly more than the necessary increase of 23% to meet the need for ad hoc analysis from the decision makers. Also, introducing Visual Analytics increases the efficacy of the process and the communication and collaboration between business analysts and decision makers. However, the business opportunities that were discovered throughout this research (ranging from €150.000 to €1.6 mn.) really convinced four of the five MDOs in Western Europe to implement Visual Analytics in their daily operations. To make this deployment as successful as possible, there has been an extensive training session, a support organization for both technical and “content�? issues has been put in place and data will be directly available from P&G’s databases.
|Item Type:||Master's Thesis|
|Research Group:||MB-OMPL: Operational Methods for Production & Logistics, EWI-DB: Databases|
|Deposited On:||14 May 2007|
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