Knauber Group modernises corporate management

Flexibility and self-service for all departments with IBM Cognos Business Intelligence

Published on 30-Jul-2012

Validated on 08 Jan 2014

"We’re continually discovering additional ways to extend our new solution with further dashboards or application modules ... In the medium term, we are planning to introduce mobile access for our sales and service forces in the field, and the practical web interface of IBM Cognos 10 will give us a head-start in this area." - Hasan Cürük, Head of IT & Organisation, Knauber Group

Customer:
Knauber Group

Industry:
Retail, Energy & Utilities

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, Enabling Business Flexibility, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

Overview

Carl Knauber Holding GmbH & Co. KG (Knauber Group) has diverse business interests across home improvement and craft outlets, fuel stations, gas, mineral oil and contracting. Its business model includes both business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels. Located in Bonn, Germany, the company employs more than 1,000 people.

Business need:
Operating in an increasingly dynamic market, Knauber Group wanted to strengthen the management flexibility of its five companies and to raise the productivity of its employees in all departments. By reducing process complexity and increasing self-service in the functional departments, corporate management should be simplified, support expenses should be reduced and the competence of the departments should be strengthened.

Solution:
Together with Knauber Group, IBM carried out a migration to the latest version of IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence. With the help of tailor-made dashboards and an intuitive user interface, about 20 professional specialists now manage all five Knauber Group companies. Besides the top management, virtually all departments – sales, marketing, HR, finance, purchasing and service – are supplied with current and historical figures, trend analyses, result forecasts, plan-actual comparisons and so on.

Benefits:
Brings a high degree of self-service to the departments and provides new levels of control, flexibility and speed. Increases the efficiency of analysis and reporting with consistent, universal access to all business data, graphical dashboards and easy, browser-based operation. Significantly reduces IT costs for administration, support and report creation.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, click here.

Carl Knauber Holding GmbH & Co. KG (Knauber Group) has diverse business interests across home improvement and craft outlets, fuel stations, gas, mineral oil and contracting. Its business model includes both business-to-business and business-to-consumer channels. Located in Bonn, Germany, the company employs more than 1,000 people.

Strong market dynamics require more flexible control
Over the past few years, the development of Knauber Group’s business was characterised by customers becoming less willing to purchase, rising personnel costs, liberalisation of shop opening times, growing business dynamics and a general change in purchasing behaviour. These factors had a negative influence on the flexibility of the company in general and the employees’ productivity in particular. To reach the company’s growth target it was necessary to provide employees with efficient tools for detecting problems rapidly and controlling local business units. Although Knauber Group already used an old version of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence to control individual departments, managers increasingly required additional reports and analyses to manage the whole company effectively. These reports had to be created by the company’s IT department, which created a reporting bottleneck and increased workload for IT staff.

“To be able to meet the increased requirements of our functional departments in a timely way, we needed more self-service reporting capabilities, more convenient tools for the creation of ad-hoc queries and a quicker and easier way to access actual company figures,” says Hasan Cürük, Head of IT & Organisation at Knauber Group. “Our management specifically demanded reductions of at least 20 percent in process costs and at least 25 percent in support costs.”

IBM Cognos Business Intelligence fulfils all criteria
The company searched for a suitable solution that would allow resources to be redeployed in other areas, as well as delivering the targeted cost-savings by reducing process complexity and introducing more self-service. The company’s functional departments also requested that each user should be able to access graphical representations of the data that was most relevant to their role. As a final requirement, the new solution should be able to be accessed from anywhere via the internet.

When Knauber Group had completed its research phase, three solutions were shortlisted: QlikView from QlikTech, Microsoft Dynamics, and version 10 of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. During the subsequent evaluation process, IBM carried out a workshop with Knauber Group over the course of several days. As a result, IBM Cognos 10 finally arose as the winning solution.

Yamile Castillo-Preuß, IBM Senior Technical Sales Professional and Client Technical Specialist, explains the reasons for Knauber Group’s decision in favour of IBM: “With IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, we were able to fulfil all the requirements and present an integrated solution for all Knauber Group companies. We were able to demonstrate the huge advances in innovation that IBM Cognos 10 has made, and how users would profit from it every single day. Moreover, our clear migration strategy to the new Cognos version and the proven excellent performance of our solution, even with very complicated queries, helped to persuade Knauber Group’s managers.”

More performance and less resource requirements
After the decision, IBM worked with Knauber Group employees to carry out the migration to the new solution within a few weeks. “The transition was quite easy, because we already had Cognos know-how in house,” reports Hasan Cürük. “And because the new solution’s user interface is very easy to operate, hardly any additional employee training was necessary. IBM just provides a few of the power users and system administrators with special on-site training for their new tasks.”

As part of a recently completed server consolidation project, Knauber Group had already considerably reduced the complexity of its system landscape, improving the availability and drastically lowering the power consumption of its IT landscape using the latest IBM server technology. At the head office in Bonn, the company consolidated 22 physical servers to only three IBM System x3850 X5 servers, using VMware vSphere virtualisation technology. The new IBM Cognos 10 solution now runs on a virtual machine with excellent performance.

A single point of control for business management
Knauber Group’s users can now access their own personalised dashboards via an intuitive web interface. Here they can review graphical representations of all the performance indicators that are most relevant to their area of responsibility. Any potential deviations from the company’s business plan can be recognised at a glance with the help of traffic light icons. At the click of a mouse-button, the user can then “drill down” into greater levels of detail, making it a simple matter to detect the causes of undesirable trends and to initiate suitable countermeasures.

“IBM Cognos Business Intelligence is the most decisive tool for overall corporate management of our five companies,” Hasan Cürük reports. “All the data from five different independent industry ERP solutions automatically flows into this reporting and analysis solution. About 20 employees in different departments do practically everything with it, from product strategy creation up to result controlling.”

The company can thus immediately use data from the different ERP systems to analyse and the current situation from different points of view. The IBM Cognos solution’s graphical interface offers a flexible way to present data in a variety of graphical formats, as well as almost boundless potential for adapting the way data is presented to individual users. Besides the senior management, virtually all departments – including sales, marketing, HR, finance, purchasing and services – are supplied with current and historical figures, trend analyses, result forecasts, plan-actual comparisons and so on.

Targets reached, prepared for the future
“With perfect integration across all systems, the new solution now gives professional specialists in our operational companies access to knowledge and data from across the entire business without any labour-intensive intermediate steps,” says Hasan Cürük. “This considerably increases the flexibility of the functional departments and makes them independent from the IT department – which, in the meantime, finds its workload considerably reduced. The users are very pleased about the new capabilities that the solution gives them, and some power users are already regularly creating their own reports and ad-hoc analyses. We are finding that once users get a taste of self-service analytics, their appetite increases!”

Hasan Cürük also feels that the Cognos 10 solution is well prepared for future requirements, and concludes: “We’re continually discovering additional ways to extend our new solution with further dashboards or application modules. A lot of this development work now takes place directly in the departments themselves, without needing to involve the central IT team. In the medium term, we are planning to introduce mobile access for our sales and service forces in the field, and the practical web interface of IBM Cognos 10 will give us a head-start in this area.”

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers actionable insights decision-makers need to achieve better business performance. IBM offers a comprehensive, unified portfolio of business intelligence, predictive and advanced analytics, financial performance and strategy management, governance, risk and compliance and analytic applications.

With IBM software, companies can spot trends, patterns and anomalies, compare “what if” scenarios, predict potential threats and opportunities, identify and manage key business risks and plan, budget and forecast resources. With these deep analytic capabilities our customers around the world can better understand, anticipate and shape business outcomes.

For more information
For further information please visit ibm.com/business-analytics.

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System x: System x3850 X5

Software:
Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

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