Interview

Oil is well, post BI

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An enterprise-wide implementation of business intelligence solution is helping the oil-and-gas major reap big benefits

By Gayatri Maheshwary

When senior managers, including KB Narayanan, CFO at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) decided it was time to upgrade the core Enterprise Resource Planning (ERO) software to the latest version of SAP ERP, their motivation was to streamline business processes. Also, employees would get access to some of the most up-to-date technologies in the market.

SAP for O&G solutions provided industry-specific support—from the extraction of raw materials to refining to selling finished goods. It further helped BPCL  manage the entire downstream hydrocarbon value chain from refining of crude oil to the transportation, distribution and sales of petroleum products.

The team transformed the way SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, now known as the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse component was deployed —giving employees throughout the organization access to critical facts and  figures. In the last few years, efforts were on to make it a much broader  reporting and analytical platform for a larger number of people—to cater to the  eeds of operational, tactical and strategic levels  within the organisation. The  supply chain initiative within the company also threw up complex cross- functional parameters that needed to be constantly analysed for superior  business outcomes and efficiencies.

As organisational roles got clearly defined with the availability of better quality of data and information with ERP, SCM and other systems, the need for good and flexible analytics continued to go up.

BPCL saw increase in efficiency and productivity and improved monitoring and controls in several areas subsequent to the widespread usage of BI.

The solution

BPCL has always been keen to ensure that its IT delivered real business value.  That means streamlining business processes and increasing efficiency by  keeping abreast of technology trends and implementing powerful solutions. With the volume of data and the number of users constantly on the rise, BPCL  decided to introduce SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator  software. This solution comprised state-of-the-art SAP software and  high-performance servers from leading hardware vendors. It leveraged  aggregation and compression technology to deliver more accurate results even faster. “User acceptance and satisfaction are closely linked to the user experience,” explains KB Narayanan.

In the past, NetWeaver BI by SAP had been predominantly leveraged by  managers from various regions and at company headquarters. But Narayanan’s  team in Mumbai discovered that middle management and sales staff could also benefit from having timely access to key performance indicators.

NetWeaver BI integrates data from across the enterprise and beyond. It provides employees with the tools they need to retrieve vital facts and figures and transform them into valuable business insights.

“By offering an even swifter, smoother way of calling up information, we can encourage more people to use our business intelligence software. And this, in turn, will help streamline decision making, boost productivity, and improve the way we do business overall.” says Narayanan.

“Waiting for charts and graphs to be passed down from the head office often takes time,” says Narayanan. “But ourpeople in the field need to see the  elevant business metrics as soon as they’re available.  It’s not just top executives who make important decisions every day.”

The team went about giving more employees at BPCL access to the NetWeaver BI. They  increased the number of user licenses from 200 to 600 and demonstrated the  power of NetWeaver BI in various business contexts. What’s more, to help ensure optimum performance, they upgraded to the latest version of the component. As part of the initiative, decision makers opted to integrate data from BPCL’s customer loyalty card programs and give sales managers at retail  outlets access to the software—a smart move, as Narayanan explains: “Using  the insight gained by using NetWeaver BI, sales force developed strategies to increase membership in the loyalty programs. This move has helped  dramatically increase the business generated by the card schemes. In fact, at  least 30 percent of the growth can be attributed to NetWeaver BI.” And it’s not  just the sales force that benefited from NetWeaver BI. BPCL employees  at all levels of the enterprise are now using the powerful  analytical component. As a result, they have better insight into vital business  metrics. Moreover, decision making, reporting, and analysis are now much  faster. “When people saw the soft- ware in action, they began to understand the  power of business analytics. They soon realised that business intelligence is not just about technology, it delivers real business value,” says Narayanan.

BPCL has invested considerable time and effort in establishing a cutting-edge IT  infrastructure and specialist in-house resources—and is reaping significant benefits.

Business intelligence
Benefits

1. enhanced functionality across all areas of the enterprise
2. Faster, more efficient decision making
3. enhanced access to business analytics for more employees
4. Increased sales generated by customer loyalty card programs
5. Streamlined reporting and analysis

Solutions and vendors

1. Application: Sap erp, netWeaver bW, and Sap netWeaver bI accelerator software
2. Database: oracle
3. Hardware: hewlett-packard
4. Operating system: hp-uX

We Are Working on pilots focused At end customers”
KB Narayanan, CFO, BPCL

How is the present solution different from the earlier version?

BPCL had started implemented SAP ERP in year 2000. So, in a sense so it is not a very new deployment. Prior to SAP ERP, we had a centralised system that was developed in-house.

How has sap netweaver bi helped in increasing your business efficiency and productivity?

We have seen increase in efficiency & productivity and improved monitoring / controls in several areas subsequent to the widespread usage of BI.

What were the deployment challenges faced?

The main challenge is in the area of quality of data. The BI project needs a  separate focus, slightly different from ERP in this area. It takes many years to  embed an information based management system within an organisation. Many  transactional processes in ERP, SCM and other systems may need to be revisited.

How is it helping in achieving improved customer satisfaction?

BPCL is working on several areas of improvement, internal to the organisation,  with the help of the BI tool. The current focus is on good monitoring and  control mechanisms that can reduce cost and create value generating opportunities.

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