(As an aside, MicroStrategy sales director and panel moderator Claire Carpenter relayed how tough a negotiator Kowalsky is, "when he tells me every penny they spend on MicroStrategy is a penny not spent curing cancer.")
Like Coburn's team, Kowalsky's has encouraged more self-service analytics use among employees. "We were using self-service in Version 9 on top of an architected presentation layer," he said. "In Version 10, we're staging the information, enabling the ability to connect to that data store and now people who are more savvy than they were a few years ago are able to go out and build their own analytics... So self-service is really taking off for us."
Todd Plank, global BI manager at Saint-Gobain Abrasives, said his organization has been using MicroStrategy for 10 years, and while it uses the software for traditional sales and financial reporting, it also employs analytics for tracking customer service (its version of patient care, so to speak), including for distributors of its materials.
"We leverage data we receive from our customers, such as point-of-sale data, that helps us to understand who is actually using our products, not just who we're selling them to," he said. More glamorously, as a sponsor of the US Olympic luge team, Saint-Gobain uses analytics software to help the sledders figure out how materials might work best to improve their runs.
Like the others, Plank says self-service capabilities are key, even if that means his group provides an initial dashboard that departments can then tweak for their needs.
One clever technique employed by Saint-Gobain to spread the word across the organization of what's available for analytics and BI tools has been to publish a series of TED-like talks internally. And naturally, I imagine, those can be accessed in a self-service manner.
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