Connection and Collaboration: Turning CNH Industrial into a Company of Data Analysts
The beauty of a global company is the sheer volume of knowledge it contains: different product lines, languages, cultures, and areas of expertise. And that holds true for us at CNH Industrial. We’re a global leader in capital goods, and we also implement design, manufacturing, distribution, aftermarket sales as well as commercial and financial activities across international markets. We have 66 manufacturing plants and 54 research and development centers around the world, and the fundamental role of innovation is evident, when you realize 10% of the Company’s global workforce is dedicated to R&D.
It’s of prime importance to manage, contain, and understand data at this scale in such a dispersed and varied global organization. It takes a concerted, focused, and strategic effort to ensure that the appropriate data is democratized, easily communicated and shared, and, most importantly, derived from a single source of truth.
Data is one of the most important assets for every company, so helping our people to work in a structured way is critical in addressing challenges and for making solid business decisions. Analyzing the right data and extracting the right insights are crucial to long-term business success.
This used to be a challenge due to regional siloes and the lack of a strong, self-serve data analytics platform. But since 2018, we’ve been on a mission to make company data more easily accessible, user-friendly, and actionable through our BI platform: Qlik Sense.
Open Data Model
Our Center of Expertise (CoE) team is comprised of platform administrators that are responsible for the implementation, management, and operation of our raw data lake and raw data catalog, business catalog, intelligent data lake, data model, and self-serve data concierge service.
We have a lot of users with very strong analytical mindsets, but there weren’t the right foundations for them. In most companies, it's a common behavior for a user to download data from different systems without passing through ICT. Our company is no different, several business users downloaded data from the transactional systems and spent a lot of time putting the data together by creating the analytical model. This was highly inefficient and put a strain on our systems and people.
So, ICT Business Reporting team created an open data model (ODM) at CNH Industrial, which has become our trademark. Our data model is open because we want our people to use and contribute to our system. And we want it to become a true self-service data model for our business units across the world. The open data model allows users to play with the data independently. The users can then create their own applications and manage their business stream, but ICT still has full control because everything is centralized. To ensure consistency, we set forth a comprehensive framework for everyone to follow.
Our Framework for Platform Adoption and Optimization
When it comes to getting company-wide buy-in, our philosophy follows our “contaminate, control, humanize” model. The playfully-named “contamination” layer is the proliferation of an analytical mindset across the global organization. We wanted to get everyone thinking about leveraging our data the way our top analytical minds already do.
The control piece is how we manage users’ access to data, such as who can see what, how, and the guidelines and operations the CoE team manages in the background. It’s all about user governance—from user management and project management, to data and application governance and knowledge.
Humanization is our vision for the next couple of years. We’re on a mission to make this a smooth process for all our users, regardless of their level of expertise. We want to reduce any friction or possible deterrents that would stop our people from building their own apps.
A New Framework to Empower Ongoing Data Analysis
Our ultimate goal is to become a full-service function for our business so users won’t need us to intervene on a day-to-day basis. The CoE team will simply act behind the scenes. It was a huge weight off our shoulders introducing some self-service to help empower our people to seek out their own data.
Before we had launched these initiatives and processes through Qlik, there were a lot of people working independently without any kind of ICT control. People wasted a great deal of time gathering data.
The tools they used for insights left room for improvement. There was limited communication—people didn’t always share what they’d created with the community; they would instead keep their creations all to themselves, which helped no one else in the long run.
Considering the fact, we are a global organization, we didn't share the information across our regions. We’d duplicate our efforts because we lacked visibility of each other’s work. Getting people to shift their mindsets and start sharing their insights was one of the most difficult challenges of this implementation.
We were committed to changing this reality, so we decided to leverage and build on our framework using the tools that we already had at our disposal. CNH Industrial was already using Qlik along with other self-service tools, but on a smaller scale. We were extremely pleased with how it was already working for us.
We realized just how valuable Qlik Sense would be to our teams on a larger scale, especially because it was so user-friendly, regardless of the user’s skill level. Though, obviously, training was still a key component in adoption and our success. Qlik allowed us to optimize our data in a way that allowed more people to access it from a single source of truth, while connecting our users through the platform.
With all that in mind, so began the implementation.
Contaminate, Control, Humanize: Our Philosophy in Action
Working through our contamination, control, and humanize model, we started driving adoption.
By 2018, some users were creating their apps, initially with our help , and we were already enriching our raw data lake catalog. Thanks to our early efforts on business-ICT collaboration.
We quadrupled our active users in 2019 with an increased app usage, thanks to the internal user conference we had at the end of 2018. At this conference, our business users presented the apps they built to access and visualize their data. This is where the contamination really started to accelerate. To help expand the knowledge base, we’ve used Yammer and created ODM portal: a central location where we aggregate and share all relevant documents and information.
We explained to our users that Qlik Sense has all the analytical capabilities you need, instead of all those disparate tools such as Microsoft excel, Access and others. We needed to evangelize the new way of doing things and explain why it would be more helpful than to stay set in their ways.
We also offered training courses for beginners on Qlik Sense basics and ODM production. For more advanced users, we started them off taking courses in ODM production based on their unique needs. Regional administrators would complete advanced Qlik Sense courses and a full ODM immersion course, as well as regional technical courses. This training has been ongoing since implementation began and now stretches company-wide. We want everyone in the company, regardless of their initial skill level, to be able to use these tools.
As more and more users became comfortable creating their own applications and dashboards, the CoE team controlled how users access our ODM platform, which contains the raw data catalog, a self-serve data concierge, and shared documents repository. We had to ensure that the right people had access to the right data, so we set those guidelines on the backend of the platform.
Once this process spread and we had processes in place, we tried to make it more relatable by making our data platform mimic a shopping website.
Users just have to decide which kind of KPI they want in their application, and with just a few clicks, they add it to their “basket” and the application will be automatically created. They can then build it how they want to build it. We give some graphical templates or they can do it independently. Users can choose the easiest pathway for their own needs.
We now have a very powerful data environment and processes that can be scaled as we go. The result so far has exceeded our expectations.
Connection, Collaboration, and a Company of Data Experts
This new implementation has transformed the way our people interact with our data—and with each other.
The contamination phase was so successful that now everyone wants to create something using Qlik. Everyone wants to experiment and try it out now that they see it’s not as difficult as they once thought. Our once-disconnected teams are now talking to each other. The uptick in global communication has been an outstanding result.
We couldn't have imagined this in the beginning. The different groups are talking constantly, sharing their experiences and best practices, and discussing potential improvements. The connection, collaboration, and skills development have been a vital outcome of this project. Everyone is becoming a data expert in their own way.
Our next step is pushing for a full-service business intelligence platform. While we are pleased that it’s currently a self-service platform for our users, we want to further humanize the experience and make it full-service. This is our vision. Service for us means giving people the ability to create new insights in a controlled environment.
When people started sharing their insights, it was a huge relief, for both the system and the business. Analyzing the right data and getting the right insights in our people’s moment of need is now much more feasible, and it’s becoming our new reality. Now, our people are not only coming together to share their insights, they’re also excited about it and elevating our innovation in the process.