The goal: Enhancing productivity and lowering costs
Dr. Liu Qing, Director of Professional Service Innovation at Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, and his Professional Service Innovation team wanted to boost productivity and lower costs. They knew that the answer existed in their large amount of data. It was only a matter of analyzing it and retrieving useful, actionable information.
According to Dr. Liu, the team was using simple spreadsheets like Excel to sort data and manually chart and present the information. It was time consuming and the end deliverables did not deliver many insights.
For example, the team couldn’t see the full perspective of a communication network when they analyzed network data. They could look at the data from the equipment and resource angle, or downtime and errors angle, or see its performance against its key performance index—but never all at once. Also, equipment assessments could take up to three months.
Nevertheless, this assessment work is crucial. The view helps customers understand if they are gaining their required return on investment. For sales staff, the insights allow them to learn from experience and understand the actual resource requirement for projects of similar size.
Dr. Liu said, “It was not just time consuming to analyze the large amount of data using spreadsheets. The process was prone to error since much of the work was done manually. The view we get on the data is also limited, and it was difficult to gain any useful insights from it.”
Dr. Liu also manages 80 technical support personnel who are constantly deployed to various sites across the country, depending on requirements in the field. He needed a tool that could help him accurately identify the need for skills upgrades on the team. Also, he needed to ensure that he is deploying staff with the right skill-sets to each on-site job. His old system had no data visualization, which made it difficult to see skill gaps and determine the location of personnel.
Dr. Liu started looking for a data analytics and visualization tool. His team evaluated a number of solutions and found Tableau to be most suitable as it allowed them to work with a large amount of data easily and quickly.
Organization-wide adoption of Tableau
Currently, Dr. Liu’s team uses Tableau to analyze all kinds of data, large and small. They leverage Tableau to analyze network log data and identify areas of discrepancies and irregularity. The information allows them to quickly access problems and resolve issues, which is crucial to maintaining a stable network and ensuring security.
The data comes in structured and unstructured formats, originating from up to six different sources, belonging to various network applications. The team sometimes uses Splunk to clean up the data before feeding it into Tableau for analysis.
Dr. Liu and his team also use Tableau to look into network equipment data. With Tableau, they can get a full picture of equipment deployment and identify wastage. Tableau allows them to look into the data and see each equipment item, which project it has been assigned to, and whether it has been fully utilized.
Besides the Professional Service Innovation team, staff across different departments at Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell also use Tableau. Staff now place relevant analytics findings on Tableau Server so that other users can access and make use of the information.
Dr. Liu estimates that about 30 people access the Tableau dashboards for the information. Some are also exploring how to access information on mobile devices like tablets.