Head of Analysis
Forecasting leads to better corporate planning
Telefónica O2 discovers that forecasting helps drive better corporate planning
Given market saturation and margin pressures, telecoms need early, precise forecasts in order to navigate whatever may develop. That's why for its decision-support needs Telefónica O2 Germany uses SAS® Forecast Server.
In the past, the company used a system composed of local SPSS single-user installations that were not networked. "We used it to create analyses and forecasts for our corporate management and planning," explains Thorsten Kühlmeyer, Head of Analysis at Telefónica O2's Business Intelligence Center (BIC). "However, the pressure from the competition and the demands from management meant continuously shorter update cycles – our existing solution was just not up to the task."
Moreover, the single-user solution made it difficult to collaborate. And the available portfolio and forecast methods no longer met the increased demands for a business analytics solution.
"The inquiries we receive from the strategic environment differ greatly, and most of them are extremely time-critical," says Kühlmeyer. Results of those inquiries support corporate planning and management decisions.
So Kühlmeyer and his team sought out a high-performance analytics solution that could meet their demands.
Before, we were achieving approximately 80 percent for last-minute sales forecasts. Today, we are right 98 percent of the time.
With SAS Forecast Server and other solutions, such as SAS Enterprise Guide®, analysts and power users access data that is consolidated and stored at dedicated sites across the company and analyze it to expose hidden connections and dependencies.
"We were able to enhance the precision of our forecasts considerably," says Kühlmeyer. "Before, we were achieving approximately 80 percent for last-minute sales forecasts. Today, we are right 98 percent of the time."
Andreas Gimber, Senior BIC Project Manager, adds: "Moreover, we have become much faster, thanks to the uniform central data layout we now use – three times faster than before, to be precise."
The BIC supports top management with the analytics required to set corporate strategy.
"We use SAS to help us with different analytical tasks," says Kühlmeyer, "whether for last-minute, extremely important ad hoc evaluations or analyses – for example, customer value models as a basis for CRM quotes – or for complex forecasts for the specialty departments and management."
"The switch to SAS has proven itself to be the absolutely right strategic step," says Markus Heimann, Vice President of Business Intelligence. "With it, we have been able to expand our analytical competence in the field of BI considerably – and take the corporate planning and management at Telefónica O2 a decisive step further."
For Kühlmeyer and Gimber, the decision to go with SAS Forecast Server was easy: "It was not only SAS' analytics that were convincing, but the infrastructure as well," says Kühlmeyer.
"Moreover, we rely on SAS in other parts of Telefónica O2 as well – so the solutions really complement one another," adds Gimber.
The project was realized in three phases: First, the technical infrastructure was put in place. Next, after necessary expansions to the analytical data layer, the technical and process standards were implemented. The final step was to train the employees. "The training effort was minimal," says Kühlmeyer. "There was a two-day workshop during which SAS provided our employees with the basic information about SAS Forecast Server – everything followed the principle of on-the-job training."
However, says Kühlmeyer, it was more than just the precise technical and methodical employee training that ensured the project's success. He encourages future users to become involved at an early stage of the planning.
"Implementing a new infrastructure always means that the users will have to change how they think," he says. "Thus, it is important to be able to identify with the new solution and to emphasize the advantages and benefits to the users."
Moreover, he recognizes the value of targeted expectation management: "You have to be careful that the users and management do not expect a magic box that performs miracles at the press of a button," he says. "It is important to make it very clear to all users and future customers that the success of the solution depends on precise planning, clear specifications and a healthy database."
Create a forecasting solution for corporate planning and management.
- Precision: Forecasts more reliable than before.
- Speed: Forecast models created up to three times faster than before.
- Versatility: Forecasting functions expand analytical portfolio.
- Scalability: Even as the inquiries increase, SAS performs securely, soundly.
- Integration: Integrates into existing BI environment.