Making data-driven decisions at Cisco

As a global IT leader, Cisco creates and consumes mass amounts of data. David Baudrez, Head of Business Insight at Cisco, discusses how the introduction of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server has improved departments across the company to increase productivity and make data-driven decisions.

Data federation and self-service insight to a global audience

Tableau: And how did getting Tableau help?
David Baudrez, Head of Business Insight for Cisco Commercial, EMEA: When we talk to the marketing team or when we talk with the engineering team or with the channel operation team, they are interested by data but, from their context. It was pretty difficult for them to have an analystic view on all those data points, because all those data were existing well but all in silo.

Thanks to Tableau, we have been really able to change the game there, and to offer answers, to anticipate questions that those guys may have. Prior to Tableau, we were relying on Excel reports and thousands of them that were produced by our BI, traditional BI teams, and the problem was when you are in the field you do not have time to crunch Excel, you do not have time to look at the data and do everything yourself. You just need answer to your question.

Tableau: How has Tableau helped managers at Cisco?
David: For the audiences, which is the account managers, the SEs and the channel account manager that we are supporting, which is our primary audience, it was really a game-changer. So those guys do not have time and do not necessarily like to consume data. They do not have time usually in their day.

But looking at data and identifying the patterns of a graphic has really helped them to understand the story, to understand what's going on, and to understand what the action they have to take in order to make a difference and create a business impact. We totally fell in love with Tableau and the promises that you have to offer actionable, readily available data that everybody can consume, not only the analyst and the power users, but everybody in an organization.

We totally fell in love with Tableau and the promises that you have to offer actionable, readily available data that everybody can consume, not only the analyst and the power users, but everybody in an organization.

Tableau: In a wider sense, how does Cisco use Tableau to understand data?
David: What we have been doing, first through this data federation, data virtualization environment, is connecting all the dots together and then thanks to Tableau we are able to extract the value out of that. We have quite a lot of data available with Cisco.

One of the problems is that all those data are there but in silo. And one of the first challenges is really to connect the different data silos together in order to have this federation layer and be able to keep the data transversally, like I was mentioning, and extract let's say business insight from those different silos of data.

Tableau: Has Tableau helped you to be more productive in your work?
David: In terms of productivity savings, we see productivity increase at multiple levels. Now the power users and let's say the subject matter expert, they can save about a couple hours a week, which is very impressive.

Now, what’s most interesting is really the productivity we are saving at the field level, so the thousands of people we are serving. And from a couple of surveys that we have run, we estimate that they can save about one to two hours a week, which is very impressive if you multiply it by 1,000 and then you can really see the benefit of all that.

Tableau: How has understanding your data affected your decision making?
David: More data-driven decisions is really the purpose of what we do, right? We are looking at doing it bottom up, doing things bottom up in my team, and the collateral effect is our VPs and execs are also better equipped to take decisions not any more based on their gut but based on data and fact.

Tableau: And what kind of difference has using Tableau Server made?
David: I think using Tableau Server to disseminate the content is something just amazing, not only because it helps us to streamline the data, to create the right message, to drive the conception, and to scale, to scale not only at the preparation of the data but also at the communication of that data.

So people that are somewhere in South Africa or somewhere in Russia or somewhere in UK could get access to their data and their story for themselves and for the purpose and the scope of their own territory. So this is typically one of the things that Tableau has enabled within our organization that was definitely not there before.

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