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We Are Highly Dependent on Dashboards, BI and Analytics: Micromax CIO

Micromax is just one of many organisations that is benefiting from visual analytics. It is not just top management who is using BI and analytics; even line of business heads are now passionate about data and drawing their own inferences and business insights, for decision making. Here’s why its users swear by analytics

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Atul Nigam, CIO at Micromax Informatics Limited

Micromax, an Indian consumer electronics company, is one of the largest mobile handset manufacturers in the low-cost feature phone segment. It also manufactures smartphones, tablets and notebooks. In Q3 2014, Micromax was the tenth largest smartphone vendor in the world. Apart from India, it also has a presence in Nepal, Bangladesh, UAE, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Russia. Micromax is now expanding into other CIS countries like Africa.

In markets where there is intense competition from local, Chinese and Korean players, Micromax needs to be hawk-eyed about its supply chain. It needs to know real-time information about the movement of materials and finished goods. The most updated information on SKUs and finished goods is the lifeline of the company. Post sales information is also important, and can determine what products the company needs to manufacture in future, and what features are in demand by phone users.  

Thanks to a visual analytics solution and customised dashboards, Micromax has all this information on a daily basis. In fact two of its promoters are using this solution and take business decisions based on the business intelligence that it yields.

Analytics Journey
The analytics journey for Micromax began five years ago (the company has been selling mobile phones since 2008).  

“We are using Qlik products for the past five years and I'm familiar with the features,” said Atul Nigam, CIO at Micromax Informatics Limited.  “We began using it for our structured analysis for our supply chain, sales and logistics data. We can look at a dashboard and tell what material is coming in, the material in transit, and what is being sold (when and where). It’s used to check imports procurement, logistics and sales. It shows us where we are getting activations and which sockets are not filled by our sales.”

Apart from the two promoters who are regular users of analytics, other line of business heads in the company are highly dependent on it.

“At the line of business level, our service head is highly dependent on BI on a daily basis. All the service data, apart from supply chain, comes into this system. Our quality head and procurement head are also dependent on BI,” informed Nigam.

Nigam was using this solution in his former company, and had long compared it to competing solutions. He said Qlik’s backend is more stable than a competing product in the market.

Empowering Users With Dashboards

He swears by the dashboards generated by Qlik Sense, and says these are the “ultimate tools for decision making”.

“We created a supply chain dashboard with this tool, which gives an idea of how many purchase orders I have raised for my finished goods, and how many of them are in transit. It tells us what material is lying in our warehouse, for those models or devices. It tells me the exact market stock that I have. I can see what is the activation for each device, on a daily basis. What is the primary sales I am making. Based on this data, I have to do reordering of finished goods. And finished goods are the lifeline of my business,” said Nigam.

Qlik Sense has a component called Nprinting that is used for mailing dashboards to users. But Nigam deliberately did not buy this component because he wanted people in his organisation to use this tool and discover the business by themselves. After all, BI tools are business discovery tools, and users must learn to derive their own insights from the data.

“I did not want users to get into a habit of exchanging dashboards via email. I wanted them to do the dashboards for themselves -- only then it becomes a business discovery,” said Nigam.

Data Integration
He informed us that the company is also using Qlik Sense for customer analytics. The Product Service team makes the apps for Micromax phones. It deployed device analytics to collect data from users' phones, with their consent.

“Device analytics reveal what kind of apps are installed by users or how often they surf the Internet from their phones’ usage of Wi-Fi & data,” said Nigam. “We can use these insights to provide better content to our users. We are also into the value added services business.”

Nigam said Qlik Sense integrates data well from other data sources. Users (in the supply chain) tend to create their own Excel sheets, but this data can also be imported into Qlik Sense to give a more accurate picture.

“Without Qlik we would have to perform several steps to get a result. But with this tool, I can import data from an Excel file and merge it with existing data to get a result. A major factor for me is turnaround time. Data warehousing takes up a lot of time. This tool sits on top of the data warehouse to provide valuable insights,” he said.

Nigam informs us that the manufacturing team created its own app for diagnostics. And the data generated by that app is also imported into the dashboard.

Nigam says the analytics users in his organisation find the visualisations and dashboards intuitive and easy to use.

“People have been asking how they could bring in more data to get better insights. Our service head, for instance, has KPI dashboards -- he can drill down to a service centre level and check at the part level -- what is the particular part that the service centre has been asking. What is the failure rate? Service is the biggest user of analytics,” he said.

It looks like an entire business can be run using dashboards, data warehouses and analytics. Micromax is just one of many organisations that is benefiting from visual analytics. But the key thing to notice here is that it is not just top management who is using BI and analytics; even line of business heads are now passionate about data and drawing their own inferences and business insights, for decision making -- thanks to the power of dashboards and visual analytics.