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Driving business value with TIBCO Spotfire


Most of my blogs on TIBCO Spotfire were on the functionality of the tool. Time to dig a bit deeper and look at for what purpose an analytics tool can be used, and what it eventually brings the organizations that use Spotfire. How does Spotfire drive value, what are the benefits for companies that use Spotfire?

Stock levels at an Oil and Gas company

With some real-life examples, I will tell how we came to economic benefits for organizations. A great example is a large Oil and Gas company that created an intelligent algorithm to decide on the level of stock for their operations. In a company like this, stock-keeping units can have a value of multiple million Dollars, hence maintaining a lower stock level can free up a lot of money. 

The idea is simple; an algorithm calculates the ideal stock level for an SKU. A web frontend communicates this change of stock level to an expert, who can then either accept, reject or change the proposal of the algorithm. From that moment on the systems will adapt to that stock level. But what does this do for the organization as a whole?

Now here’s where Spotfire comes in. We created a set of dashboards that give a visual insight into the potential savings and real savings. But we can also give a clear view on how the experts value the proposals of the algorithm, in other words, do the experts follow the system or do they override the proposal of the algorithm? And how much of the potential savings are lost by this override? And how about comparing these experts? Maybe some of them believe the proposals to be correct, whilst others continuously override? 

With a good set of dashboards, we have given the organization full vision on what this algorithm does for them, and how the organization adopts the new way of working, freeing up budget and simplifying the decisions on the stock levels.

Improved logistics at a container Terminal

At a large container terminal, we have built informative dashboards on the time it takes for a container to be lifted from a carrier by a quay crane, its transport to the container stack by a guided vehicle, and the process of this container being put on the stack by a stack crane. We get the average time for the entire action and the average times for the relevant parts of the movement. But far more interesting are the outliers! Say that the action to pick a container from a vessel takes a minute on average, but sometimes this action gets stalled and takes up to half an hour. The container hangs in the crane and the entire loading or unloading comes to a halt. With this information, time-stamped to the second, the organization can now analyze the logs of the various machines, to find out why and where the bottlenecks get created and take action to prevent future stalls.

Cost analysis at an international manufacturer

An international manufacturer creates its products all over the world in large factories. The products are identical in terms of usability but may vary in the bill of materials. In other words, it does the same, works in the same way and looks the same but the base materials may be different. And with this, there is an interesting puzzle to be solved. Suppose product A can be manufactured in China at a lower price than in Europe, but that does not necessarily mean that it is cheaper to manufacture in China for the European market, because of the cost of transport, exchange rate risks, warehousing, etc. But even within China, some factories produce the same product cheaper than other factories. 

We created a set of visuals that bring it all together. What are the total costs to get a product at the customer, comparing all the ingredients of the price? And why is a product cheaper in one factory than in the other? Here as well, we decompose the price to the lowest possible level and even advise the organization to make changes, also indicating the low hanging fruit. Spotfire will tell them that a huge saving can be done in one factory, but it will take a lot of effort, whilst in another factory things may be changed to save less money, but easily. This customer chooses its battles based on Spotfire’s analysis.

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