Data is a tool rather than an absolute value

Atria Finland Ltd’s strategy update was given a challenging target: Atria must be the best user of consumer market data so that product development, brand and sales management are based on a common foundation of data. Therefore this strategy project does not only affect reporting but the management of the whole business.

“The first important step was to concentrate consumer and market perspective data into one organisation. We also reinforced our organisation with data professionals. We started to assess potential partners to broaden our understanding of the potential offered by the varied utilisation of data. We decided to work with Houston Analytics,” says Paula Virtanen, Vice President, Consumer and Market Insight at Atria Finland.

Internal processes and the required data and data sources had been outlined at Atria but the data was all over the place in various sources, systems and timelines. This easily led to situations where discussion was led by the sources of information rather than the needs of the business processes. The project to utilize data started by finding an answer to the questions: which matters should be solved with the help of data and how can data be turned into a form that is as easy to use as possible?

“We had plenty of consumer data in Excels to PowerPoints. However it is important to remember that data is not an absolute value but a tool that helps us to do the right things and draw the right conclusions. Data should be able to help us to answer the questions: what is happening, why is this happening, what will happen and what will this mean to us?" says Paula.

Handy, varied and quick

Once the data needs and sources had been assessed, it was time for the most critical stage of the project: selection of the reporting tool. The alternatives included Atria’s current reporting tool and the interesting options available on the market.

“People tend to avoid using data if it is not in a user-friendly form and rapidly available. Therefore we decided to compare various alternatives with the help of case studies. We carried out parallel tests on all the reporting tools that had made it to this stage. Toni Jormalainen, reporting expert at Houston Analytics Ltd, was responsible for carrying out the testing,” says Hanna-Leena Kurki, Market Research Manager at Atria, describing the reporting tool selection process.

“It was a good idea to use case studies to approach the matter: selection of the reporting tool was based on the user experience from the perspective of construction and final users. Buying a completely new reporting tool was also, understandably, a huge step, but we decided to select Tableau as it was best suited to our dynamic reporting needs.

“After we had selected the reporting tool we continued to work with Houston Analytics to enable us to quickly get up to speed and produce our first reports for internal use. We constructed reporting in close cooperation with Toni Jormalainen from Houston Analytics. Toni brought competence from the perspective of data models and construction of reporting, and we ensured that the competence would be transferred to Atria’s own organisation. Atria’s role at this stage was to ensure that the data output was correct, visual and easy to understand,” says Hanna-Leena Kurki.

Journey continues

All changes require time and commitment. The transition to the era of business intelligence does not only mean the introduction of a new reporting system that is integrated into processes but stepping onto a path of continuous learning and development.

“I can't highlight enough how important it is for the launch of our new reporting tool to be successful. People were worried that we were introducing something really difficult and challenging. But they had a positive surprise. Tableau is easy for the administrator and the user. Now we talk about the same subjects with the same figures and from the same perspective. Users love the relevance of the data and ease of use. Now no one needs to spend time making PowerPoints that describe the market situation as in meetings we can view the situation straight from reports. We now have time for more productive matters,” says Hanna-Leena Kurki about the results of the launch.

“However, we are only at the beginning of our journey: we have now developed dynamic reporting that serves our business processes. The next step is to introduce analytics and optimisation into the reports. As is usually the case with successful changes, the strong support and commitment of the management is the most important thing in implementing this project and ensuring the new procedures become rooted into the organisation. Without that we would not be at the stage that we are now. But our journey along the business intelligence road must continue,” says Paula.