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FMCG: Tiger Brands Revamps and Mobilises BI


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In the ultra-competitive fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market, companies need to stay on their toes to keep ahead of the competition. This applies especially if you are Tiger Brands, South AfricaÂ’s largest food company, the owner of 35 household brands including Jungle Oats, Tastic Rice and Beacon chocolate.

And in the information age, the company that has the best handle on the data moving around the organisation is going to come out ahead. Companies need to be able to access data quickly, accurately and where ever they happen to be, in order to make quick decisions and so stay ahead of the pack. The fastest decision makers are going to gain the competitive edge by being first to respond to market and customer requirements, and if they donÂ’t they risk being eclipsed by smarter, nimbler competitors.

When Tiger Brands decided it was time to upgrade its existing business intelligence services, it turned to MicroStrategy Incorporated to dramatically improve its current set-up as well as future-proof the company for emerging business intelligence requirements, specifically mobilisation.

Previously Tiger Brands had used IBMÂ’s Cognos business intelligence service, running on an Oracle database, to interrogate and report on the companyÂ’s data. According to Peter Walsh, Tiger BrandÂ’s chief application officer, despite the service being entrenched in the business, they were facing a couple of functionality issues thanks to the company running two versions of the same platform.

Tiger Brands Reaping the Rewards from MicroStrategy BI Platform

Based on MicroStrategyÂ’s proof of concept, Tiger Brands kicked off a migration plan, and less than a year later MicroStrategy and its integration partner, BITanium have replicated the existing BI system and are now poised for additional roll-out.

Already, however Walsh and his team are seeing huge benefits from the MicroStrategy BI platform.

“Because the MicroStrategy service speaks directly to our data warehouse, sales reporting is far faster than before,” says Walsh. “Where previously month-end reports were initiated on a Sunday, with the data only available to users on Tuesday, now we have all the data available on Monday.

“In addition, we have new functionality such as improved executive dashboards with heat maps that allow data to be viewed in a visual way. Executives can quickly review data in an easy-to-understand format.”

The next steps include adding in the strategic executive reporting layer, as well as mobilising Tiger BrandÂ’s business intelligence. Walsh is currently testing MicroStrategyÂ’s iPad application and likes what he sees, especially that the same reports will be accessible wherever Tiger Brand executives happen to be.

Brent Aitken, MicroStrategyÂ’s channel alliance manager advises all companies, even if they arenÂ’t yet ready to mobilise their BI, to make sure that their chosen BI vendor has the correct vision in place to provide a mobilised business intelligence service when they are ready.

Revamping an entrenched BI system is no small task, especially as employees need to learn a brand new system. Key to a smooth transition at Tiger Brands was MicroStrategy’s proactive role in the project, says Walsh, providing assistance and resources, specifically bringing in an international trainer to train the Tiger Brand super-users. This initially education was backed up with power training sessions for users where they were helped with setting up their specific reports. “This ensured buy in,” says Walsh. “There was no negative feedback, the learning curve was reduced, and everyone is very happy.”

Self-Service Environment for Tiger Brands Users

MicroStrategy’s Aitken also points out that Tiger Brands users no longer have to rely on IT to generate their BI reports. “With MicroStrategy, users are now in a self-service environment away from IT.” This both encourages buy-in to a new system, and speeds up reporting, allowing the company to be far more proactive in a competitive marketplace.

“Tiger Brands execs now have a concise overview of the business they didn’t have before,” says Aitken. “The robust infrastructure and end-to-end solution covers all BI requirements allowing fast and effective decision making.”

Aitken continues to say that in these fast-moving times, when choosing a BI partner, companies must make sure they opt for a flexible and agile organisation, able to move rapidly with the time and the trends, rather than a staid conglomerate offering little in the way of innovation.

As for Tiger Brands, the company has rolled out the MicroStrategy BI service to seven of its 14 business units and is currently scoping the next generation of reports to be delivered to executive management.

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