Walking the fine line between growth and competitive advantage

Qualcomm and IBM Business Analytics

Published on 10 Oct 2012

"We’ve been able to accomplish one of my biggest goals within IT… migration from an IT-centric reporting and analysis framework to one based on end-user self-service." - Norm Fjeldheim, CIO, Qualcomm



Deployment country:
United States

BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, BA - Performance Management, Big Data, Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Operations/Fraud/Threats, Business Integration, Business Performance Transformation, Data Warehouse, Smarter Planet


Qualcomm is based in San Diego, California, generated $14 billion in annual revenues for Fiscal Year 2011, and employs more than 21,200 people. The company engages in the development, design, manufacture and marketing of digital wireless telecommunications products and services

Business need:
Qualcomm found that the rapid growth and highly competitive nature of its business made it imperative to synchronize all its divisions and associated functions. It was therefore paramount to create a business analytics platform that would support planning, forecasting, analysis and reporting seamlessly across the enterprise, and would allow business users to take control – a highly self-service oriented model that was a departure from the past.

Qualcomm has a long-standing relationship with IBM, stretching back to late 1999 when the company started using IBM® Cognos® software. The company then migrated to IBM Cognos Planning and early versions of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. In 2010, Qualcomm upgraded to IBM Business Analytics solutions that fully meet its complex requirements, including the latest versions of IBM Cognos TM1® and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence.

Self-service analysis and reporting for end users – reducing reliance on IT support. Project design – heavy involvement of end users and experienced business advisors within the business. One version of the truth – development of an enterprise data warehouse. Center of excellence – creating a dedicated capability within IT and finance. Single analytics platform – one enterprise data warehouse and a suite of IBM Cognos technology solutions have streamlined processes, reduced uncertainty, and eliminated many risks inherent in spreadsheet-based and other non-integrated enterprise solutions.

Case Study

Client profile

Qualcomm is based in San Diego, California, generated $14 billion in annual revenues for Fiscal Year 2011, and employs more than 21,200 people. The company engages in the development, design, manufacture and marketing of digital wireless telecommunications products and services. The company is recognized as a pioneering innovator in the wireless telecommunications industry, and is the acknowledged world leader in next-generation mobile technologies. The majority of Qualcomm’s revenue is generated by two main businesess: chipset sales and technology licensing. The chip business develops and supplies integrated circuits and system software for wireless voice and data communications, while Qualcomm’s licensing business drives the organization’s horizontal market strategy by granting licenses to use its intellectual property portfolio to manufacture and sell wireless products.

The opportunity

The wireless industry is massive and continues to grow at a rapid pace, stemming from consumers’ insatiable appetite for mobility and instant access to people, social networks and information. In 2010, the number of wireless connections exceeded five billion globally, and is expected to grow almost 50 percent by the end of 2014. Given the pace of technological change and an increasingly diverse and demanding customer base, Qualcomm views business analytics as a key ingredient in helping it maintain its position at the forefront of the wireless sector.

Leveraging analytics to drive business value and innovation

This case study outlines how Qualcomm combined a deep-seated belief in business analytics with an innovative leadership team focused on continued market leadership, growth and performance to drive business value across the organization. Within the finance department, Qualcomm’s mission around supporting cross-company integrated performance management systems centers on continuous process innovation and enhancing the cost-effectiveness of all systems that are central to supporting Qualcomm’s finance and business teams.

In the beginning, Qualcomm was focused on deploying standardized planning and forecasting tools, enabling seamless data-flow between functional groups, building a centralized data repository, and providing a shared web-based reporting solution for all of Qualcomm’s business groups.

Several business groups requested an application that could help calculate product line financials, build multiple interconnected data models, document current data process flows and provide a consistent view of data across the entire organization, with the added ability to input and share data across multiple business areas within the organization. Qualcomm business groups also wanted to deliver the solution based on a phased approach instead of a “big bang”, thereby ensuring quick individual business wins and a more likely buy-in from each business function.

Detail of the deployments

Rolling out an enterprise data warehouse

In 2010, Qualcomm implemented a new data warehouse that focused on achieving the following outcomes: reducing data redundancy and providing one version of the truth; creating common data definitions across the organization; automating report reconciliations; and providing process-based, automated report updates and event-based warehouse updates. This project was a key phase in the creation of a self-service, analytics-based management reporting solution leveraging IBM Cognos TM1 and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence. The outcomes from this TM1-based management reporting system included: introducing self-service dimension and attribute management; providing the ability to execute multiple versions and complex scenario planning; automating a previously manual process for restatements and data loads; offering self-service backups to the data warehouse; and providing self-service application- and object-level security, which help to reduce the pressure on IT to support business analytics

Leveraging TM1 for enterprise planning and forecasting

Qualcomm decided to transition from its existing IBM Cognos Planning solution to IBM Cognos TM1, which enhances the company’s planning, budgeting and analysis procedures. This implementation is unusual in that it doesn’t just deploy TM1 as a planning and forecasting tool, but rather fully integrates the planning/forecasting process with reporting and analytics for decision-making.

There are numerous benefits that have emerged from the deployment of TM1, including fully integrated planning and reporting across Qualcomm; real-time data movement between applications with no need to perform interim ‘publish’ steps; powerful multicurrency functionality, which replaces a previously manual process; simplified planning and forecasting cycles; automated dimension updates; minimal downtime from automation of data loads, data publishing and dimension updates; easy access to prior versions in the future; and cross-Qualcomm visibility into headcount, labor and other direct costs.

Leveraging TM1 for reporting

The deployment of TM1 replaced IBM Cognos Analysis Studio, and delivered several enhancements to the organization’s reporting processes. Qualcomm is able to combine any number of dimensions in the same report, such as headcount and expenses; report filters are easy to manage, flexible and customizable as specific analytic needs dictate; it is simple to change the level of detail of data that is being analyzed and reported; completing complex custom sets is straightforward; there is tight integration with Microsoft Excel, and updates to Excel can be completed in seconds; and fully interactive multi-cube reporting is very simple.

The IBM Business Analytics solution has become a hub for all aspects of planning, forecasting and reporting, both internally and externally. With the deployment of Cognos TM1 and Cognos Business Intelligence, Qualcomm has been able to consolidate three separate solutions into one, and has seen other significant benefits around time savings: the time taken to load actuals has been reduced from ten hours to one, and reporting updates can now be performed hourly on demand instead of only twice daily.

Other application areas

As success within the finance department accelerated, there was a concerted effort to migrate the solution into other groups, including procurement, engineering, and sales. These deployments were undertaken to meet the specific needs of individual business groups, but through shared ideas, access to cross-functional data and a focus on broader Qualcomm goals, they have ultimately resulted in a tightly integrated system. Qualcomm’s integrated IBM Business Analytics platform allows multiple business areas to produce more accurate forecasts that contribute to achieving overall corporate objectives, while also giving users a greater sense of ownership.

  • Operating expense – This process is focused on using IBM Cognos TM1 to manage corporate operating expenses, including headcount planning. This process is tightly integrated with the enterprise data warehouse, and addresses a number of prior problems surrounding headcount forecasting. Headcount planning was previously done on a person-by-person basis – which was time-consuming, fraught with mistakes when keeping track of specific people especially where transfers were involved, error-prone due to complex rules on pay increases, bonuses and promotions, and surrounded with the need for the utmost security of data. The process is now managed using resource codes that designate the type of person in a role. This allows position codes and averages to be used instead of specific people and salaries.
  • Customer forecasting – A complex business solution that models the forecast on a customer-by-customer basis. In the past, this was done using Cognos Finance and was a highly complex process. Due to limitations it was impossible to deal with the complexity of individual customer pricing. This meant any kind of scenario planning was nearly impossible without days of preparation, and changes or ‘what if’ scenarios were difficult at best. With its new IBM Cognos TM1 solution, Qualcomm has merged all pricing inputs into TM1, standardized all rebate deal calculations and business rules across all customers and products, scheduled net pricing imports and calculations to run daily, and created a single consolidated TM1 pricing cube for all reporting and analysis. Today this complex process is easy to manage, able to deal with rapidly-changing programs and complexity across a vast array of customers, and provides an important data point.
  • Five-year cost models and capacity planning – This solution uses built-in IBM Business Analytics capabilities to support two key processes: first, a fully integrated long run supplier wafer forecast to help determine the necessary level of wafer and test capacity required for Qualcomm’s business. Second, detailed cost models per device which incorporate wafer, test, and package costs by key assumptions. These integrated tools are critical to help analyze future spends and areas where cost reduction opportunities either in the short or long run should be focused. As an example, the package and test engineering department will allocate resources to invest in lowering test times based on areas where it has identified the largest opportunities to drive payback against the resource investment.
  • Engineering reporting – ‘Engineering Compute’ is a global IT organization dedicated to supporting the success of Qualcomm Engineering. It employs several thousand hardware, software, product and test engineers. Their goal is simple: to provide focused information and analysis to ensure that Qualcomm Engineering delivers products in a timely, cost-effective manner. The objectives of its projects are wide and varied, and include workflow automation, enablement of grid computing to effectively manage scarce and expensive hardware resources, and the optimization of design and test programs across storage systems, among others. In support of these initiatives, the engineering reporting project leverages IBM Cognos Business Intelligence and extract, transform and load (ETL) tools to collect, standardize and consolidate key engineering metrics that are used to drive operational decisions. It uses an easy-to-navigate portal called Q-EDGE, and provides engineering teams with access to all relevant data and information as well as key metrics, analytical tools, and an executive dashboard supporting the grid engineering team. Target areas include product design, product and test engineering, intellectual property management, chip layout, physical design, and verification, synthesis and analysis.
  • IT service reporting – This IBM Cognos Business Intelligence-based solution is critical to IT, providing the comprehensive, accurate and timely reports and analyses needed to make informed decisions, prioritize work, and gain visibility into projects and work areas that are focused on dramatically improving IT efficiency and effectiveness. Solution components include IBM Cognos for Microsoft Office, Analysis Studio, Event Studio and Report Studio. Pagelets are pushed to end customers via BSP MetaManager; daily and other reports are delivered across IT using complex bursting rules; and extensive reporting can be performed using multiple data sources within one report. The team is focused on leveraging Active Reports and many of the user-friendly visualization tools that are available in the new Cognos 10 upgrade. There are also future plans to move into Cognos Metric Studio to manage a wide array of KPIs across IT, and beginning to explore mashups as a means of expanding into the area of web-based data integration applications.

Solution overview

Qualcomm began its journey in the late 1990s with Cognos Finance, then migrated to Cognos Planning and early versions of Cognos Business Intelligence. Over 2010 and 2011, the company has fully replaced its Cognos Planning solutions with IBM Cognos TM1 to better leverage its enhanced capabilities – scalability, ease-of-use, powerful analytics, 64-bit processing for speed, and write-back to allow integration of the planning and reporting environments, among others. This move is intended to further improve efficiency, allow more rapid deployments in line with the company’s goal of providing a solution within 90 days for all customers, and create tight integration between reporting and planning/forecasting environments.

The future

Qualcomm is clearly seeing the benefits of a business analytics-centric approach for managing its strategy and operational performance. The approach enables the company to track results and understand how to reallocate resources to tackle challenges or capitalize on opportunities.

Qualcomm’s plans include further expansion of the Cognos TM1 reporting solution by creating a series of sub-ledger data reporting cubes, including accounts payable, all aspects of inventory, and enterprise-wide project costs. This will enhance visibility into operations and allow Qualcomm to drill deeper when a situation demands more detailed understanding.

Qualcomm will also be embarking on a migration to IBM Cognos Business Intelligence 10 to leverage the power of the new Business Insight functionality, and will push more advanced visualization features to its users. This aligns with the company’s strategy to put reporting and business analytics into the hands of of the business community, instead of having IT involved in those processes.

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.

Request a call

To request a call or to ask a question, go to ibm.com/business-analytics/contactus. An IBM representative will respond to your inquiry within two business days.


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

Cognos TM1, Cognos Business Intelligence, Cognos Planning

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM Corporation, Software Group, Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. Produced in the United States of America. August 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.

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