Conduent builds a solid foundation for enterprise analytics


Conduent, formerly known as Xerox Services, started with a few Tableau Desktop licenses. As more people saw the value in their data, the IT team scaled Tableau Server across the company. Today, the company uses Tableau in several departments including human resources, sales, and finance.

In the first video, James Baker, Commercial Operations at Conduent, shares insights on his operation’s successful partnership with IT.

In the second video, James describes the slow business processes his analysts faced before Tableau. Every department was doing something different, leading to delays of “days, if not weeks.” Today, senior leadership has instant access to data, which James calls “a complete sea change.”


Tableau: Why did you initially look into Tableau?
James Baker, Commercial Operations, Conduent: We had senior sponsorship saying that we really needed to do something different and approached it. We had a fantastic tool that we'd chosen in Tableau.

So we changed our approach a couple of months into the deployment. And we got much more interactive and we kind of went back to the basics of what Tableau is about, which is making people really interact with their data at that business level.

Tableau: What was your team’s reaction to Tableau?
James: Suddenly, you'd see these people's eyes light up because what we were doing was suddenly more meaningful for them. It wasn't just rolling out a new bit of technology. Suddenly they could see how this was going to help them do something that they'd not been able to do very quickly before. So that was a real sea change for us.

I don't think we'd have been able to be anywhere near as successful as we have been from a business side of it without [IT] being fully on board and being really supportive of making sure that this is a success for us.

Tableau: Can you give an example?
James: So, someone said, "I've got a problem last month with this particular account. I had a cost issue, how can you help me with that?" And we'd literally just focus in on that account. We'd use just our published dashboards to really interrogate what was going on.

Tableau: How did business partner with the IT department?
James: We were lucky in that there were two parties driving the project. They had our IT organization who owned the platform or the IT operations, the infrastructure you might call it. And then me as the business leader driving what we wanted to deliver for the business. So we had really two equal parties in this.

On the IT side, those guys were responsible for building out our connections to our data, building out ETL layers, making sure that we've got good solid automation. They're responsible for all Server admin and making sure the lights stay on and the server's up and running all the time that we need it.

Generally I think we've had an excellent working relationship with our IT organization. They've been really good partners in the way that we've deployed this.

Tableau: Has your team seen measurable improvements as a result?
James: I don't think we'd have been able to be anywhere near as successful as we have been from a business side of it without those guys being fully on board and being really supportive of making sure that this is a success for us.

You'd see people's eyes light up because what we were doing was suddenly more meaningful for them. Suddenly they could see how this was going to help them do something really quickly that they'd not been able to do very quickly before. So that was a real sea change for us.

Tableau: How do you handle authentication?
James Baker: So we manage authentication within Tableau, but we've got a corporate authentication solution using SAML so we've basically integrated that standard API for that that most applications can leverage.

Tableau: Can you describe how you organize groups with individually assigned access?
James: Again, the IT organization built the integration for that. So every new person that wants to have access to server, they can authenticate using their S3 credentials. We then just very simply use groups—which is dependent on our business unit, each business unit, each person is then assigned to a group.

"A complete sea change"

Tableau: What were your requirements for a BI solution?
James: We wanted something that was really flexible, adaptable, something that we could work really quickly with and drive out into the business quickly and simply.

Some of the key problems that we identified before we looked at deploying Tableau were lots of bottlenecks in acquiring data. People didn't have access to the information they needed quickly and efficiently.

Tableau: Before Tableau, how long was the reporting process?
James: We often had delays of days, if not weeks, before people would get reports.

We had lots of BI solutions, but were never really using them effectively. We had pockets: one in supply chain, one in operations, one in sales, everyone doing something slightly different.

We're now pulling data daily into Tableau and making that available 24/7 to all our senior leadership team so that they can look at that information as soon as it's available and as soon as they need it.

Tableau: How did Tableau fit into your workflow?
James: We just felt that Tableau was kind of an ideal match for what we were trying to do.

We're starting to explore new data, HR data for example, and we're just now starting to build out what our dashboards might want to look like; we're bringing in some of our HR people, some of our operations people and saying, "how would you want to see this?"

Tableau: What benefits have you experienced?
James: We're now pulling data daily into Tableau and making that available 24/7 to all our senior leadership team so that they can look at that information as soon as it's available and as soon as they need it—a complete sea change to what we were doing before.

We're spending an awful lot of our time actually coaching our people to think differently. It's trying to enable more of a culture of analytics as opposed to a culture of reading data tables.

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