Mazda is in the driver's seat with new BI system

Mar 01, 2016
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In the driving seat!

 

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AT A GLANCE

 

INDUSTRY

  • Automotive

BUSINESS OBJECTIVE

  • To improve visibility of data and flexibility and detail of reporting
  • To reduce burden on IT staff
  • To improve systems capability at the end of a major partnership agreement

SOLUTION

  • QlikView business intelligence solution
  • Professional services provided by Endeavour Solutions

THE BENEFITS

  • Quick and easy to implement
  • Data can be sliced and diced however the user likes
  • Continuous improvement by creating new templates and dashboards
  • Able to deal with multiple data sources
  • User friendly so low impact on IT resources

When Mazda needed to future proof its business a chance encounter with its trusted IT provider unearthed the perfect solution...

Mazda New Zealand’s adoption of the QlikView business intelligence solution was a little serendipitous. Before 2013, Mazda had a partnership with Ford New Zealand to be its third-party logistics provider for Mazda spare parts. The two companies had a lot of dealers in common so it made sense to pool resources and allow Ford to distribute and invoice the Mazda dealers as well as its own. That meant, however, that Mazda had very little information on its parts business – all it used to get was a summary of all the transactions at the end of the month, explains Mazda’s CFO, David Hodge. Mazda did have access to Crystal Reports which was fine, Hodge says, as long as you knew exactly what you were looking for and didn’t want to do anything unusual. Basically, Mazda knew it had been collecting a lot of data but had limited ways to use it and wanted to be able to dig a bit deeper. In addition, the partnership with Ford was coming to an end and Mazda was planning to set up its own parts warehouse and associated computer systems, which has since been completed. http://istart.co.nz/nz-case-studies/mazda-parts-system-a-model-for-others/

Seeing is believing

Around the same time, Hodge attended a ‘Seeing is believing’ event hosted by Mazda’s IT partner Endeavour Solutions demonstrating the QlikView product.

“Endeavour invited us along for a demonstration and one thing led to another. They came in and promised that if we gave them two days with our data they could show us what the product could do. It was pretty impressive so we pursued it,” says Hodge.

Because of this, and an existed trusted relationship with Endeavour, Hodge felt he didn’t need to consider any other options, although he did look at Crystal Reports and Business Objects because Mazda Australia was using them. He decided against them however because they were too IT heavy. One of the things Hodge liked about QlikView was its low requirement from IT to support it. “We have very limited IT resource at Mazda New Zealand. Most of our IT resource comes out of Mazda Australia, so we try and do things as much as we can by ourselves and QlikView allows us to do that.”

He also liked the way QlikView depicts data visually, drawing the eye immediately to anomalies or areas of concern. “It gives us a pictorial view of our whole vehicle pipeline so it’s much easier to view than just a bunch of numbers,” he explains. “In just the initial two days that we worked with [Endeavour BI manager] David White, we learnt things we didn’t know before.”

Easy implementation

Once Mazda had decided to go with the QlikView product, things moved quickly thanks to its template system. “We could just build a simple template and add to it as time goes by. It wasn’t like we had to wait until the whole thing was finished – we had users using it within a week of our buying it,” explains Hodge.

Since then Hodge has added many more templates to the system himself by downloading an e-book and following the instructions on how to build them. “This is how the QlikView world works – they encourage you to copy and paste other peoples’ templates and charts and it’s easy to do,” he says. For example, he has a template that analyses sales and margin for vehicles. It takes the system 15 seconds to access, crunch and display the data – a task that used to take Hodge a full day.

The QlikView templates provide the visual formatting while the underlying rules dictate which data to pull through by pointing the software at the appropriate database or databases. These rules are easy to change, so when the partnership ended with Ford it was a simple task to switch QlikView from pointing at Ford’s data warehouse to the new Greentree ERP system that had been implemented to run Mazda’s parts warehouse.

In the driving seat

One of the major benefits of the solution for Mazda is the time saved by staff on collating and analysing data allowing them more time to act on the results of that analysis. For example, Mazda can quickly identify slow-selling vehicles and react before they become a problem. Identifying early that a particular vehicle colour is falling out of favour means the company can reduce its orders for that colour and prevent excessive discounting by dealers to shift aging cars. “You’re constantly having to tweak your levels of discount. If you put too much discount into the market it starts costing too much, so QlikView helps us to get that balance right,” says Hodge. It can make quite a difference to the bottom line.

He also comments on the speed of access to data and says that the way he can view Mazda’s data is really only limited by his imagination. User uptake has also been good because it’s easy to use and staff soon learnt they could get pretty much any information they wanted out of the system without having to ask IT to run bespoke reports.

Road to the future

Although he hasn’t crunched the numbers Hodge says he knows the return on investment is huge. The small price point for the system and simple implementation already make it cost effective, but the time it saves him and other Mazda staff in the long-term is where the real saving is made. As he looks to the future Hodge is planning spend more time on templates so he can combine his data sources across parts, service, vehicles and warranty data to get an even more complete picture of the business in one QlikView template. “We can do it, we simply haven’t done it yet,” he says.

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