Boston Scientific: Closing the gap between business and IT

Boston Scientific is a worldwide medical device manufacturer. To stay ahead of the curve, they needed an analytics tool that could bring together business and IT departments. The tool needed to be able to connect directly to their databases—and quickly deliver insights across the organization.

Boston Scientific develops, manufactures, and markets medical devices around the world. Their mission is to create innovative medical solutions that transform lives.

In video 1, Rory Abbazio, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence, discusses how IT partners with the business to assess sales patterns and track market opportunities. To successfully integrate Tableau, they “started small and thought big” with a slow rollout— choosing to train key analysts and nest them within each business division.

In video 2, Rory describes how they use a live connection to SAP HANA to analyze data in Tableau. With a fast connection, business users and executives can make smart decisions on the fly.

Tableau: Have you seen more collaboration between Business and IT since adopting Tableau?
Rory Abazzio, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence: I think what really speaks to Boston Scientific and why we're really so successful with the tool is the fact that IT got ahead of the curve instead of the business coming to us. We went to the business and said, "Hey, these are the top tools in the industry, this is how it can fit your use cases, let's pilot out, let's proof it out with some of your use cases."

And together, collectively, we were in lock step in our decision-making process moving forward with Tableau. So they were really excited to bring the tool in and really excited to partner with IT overall.

We really wanted to empower our business partners at the end of the day. And that's what we're really seeing.

Tableau: What was the key for successful implementation of Tableau?
Rory: We took an agile approach instead of a waterfall approach and started to add on the functionality instead of one big bang.

Instead of doing a big waterfall approach, we started small and really thought big. We sent people to the fundamentals and the advanced training, at least the core members of the team and some of the people in the business that were really going to be content creators.

And what we did, how we structured the team, was there's analysts that are within IT that also partner each division. So they know the division, they know what they're trying to get to, what data problems they're trying to solve. They also know Tableau really well. So they're nested in with the business. And what we do is we started them small saying, “okay, this is how you do grouping, this is how you do hierarchies, this is how you do calculations.”

IT's really helped set us up for success, now we feel really enabled and empowered to really use Tableau to maximize what we want to do with our own data.

Tableau: How do Business and IT benefit each other?
Rory: We had our work cut out for us as far as IT really establishing themselves and really showing that we can truly be partners and not just shove a technology down their throat. We wanted to say, “okay, how can we embrace this together and how can we make sure that we're set up for an enterprise perspective to make sure you guys are successful within the divisions?”

IT's really helped set us up for success. Now we feel really enabled and empowered to really use Tableau to maximize what we want to do with our own data at this point.

Tableau: What are some next steps?
Rory: Now we're starting to get into the other divisions. And like I said, we've barely just scratched the surface of getting to other adjacencies. So the tool itself has been really pervasive throughout the organization in the sense that one person has it and they start to create these great visualizations or these great workbooks.

Learn more about why IT loves Tableau.

"Phenomenal performance" with SAP HANA

Tableau: What were your needs before and how has Tableau met them?
Rory: I have three centers of excellences under me. One is for BI reporting, the other is for operation reporting, and the last one is pricing.

We're moving forward with Tableau because we saw that a lot of the use cases were missing when we had Business Objects and PowerPlay.

Tableau: What do you get with Tableau that you didn’t have with Business Objects?
Rory: That ad-hoc analysis was one of the key gaps that were missing. The dashboarding ability is one of the huge things that Tableau brings to the table, especially around visualizations, and being able to easily find the patterns in data.

If a VP asks a question, they're able to really dive into the answer right there in there. So it's a really intuitive, really easy-to-use experience, especially in presentations.

Tableau: How are you connecting to data in Tableau?
Rory: We're leveraging SAP HANA as our main database for Tableau. As compared to what most companies are doing with extracts, we're actually using a live connection. And what's really benefiting us is really the performance that we're seeing. So both OUS and in the U.S we're seeing phenomenal performance both with Server and Desktop.

We're a Salesforce company. And then also maximizing all the work we do with HANA along the way, optimizing our HANA views and then creating new HANA views on the back end. And that's really kind of a long story short of our rollout success.

Tableau: How do users interact with data?
Rory: We wanted to be able to provide a service where business users can act—make decisions off the data that they have in front of them.

We're really driving a culture of analytics. What we're seeing is that instead of leveraging Excel reports or bringing those up or using PowerPoint, people were starting to use stories for their quarterly business reviews, and that's been really impactful because, a VP would ask a question, they're able to really dive into the answer right there in there. So it's a really intuitive, really easy-to-use experience, especially in presentations.

Tableau: How many people are already using Tableau within your company?
Rory: So we have 245 Desktop users at this point, and around 1500 Server users. And that's literally just getting started because we just started—we've only had Tableau for about four months. So we completed one division, that being peripheral interventions.

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