How Ericsson accelerates their business case workflow by 80% and empowers their customers with Visyond

  • Industry: Telecom
  • Function: Sales, Strategy
  • Use Cases: Sales Negotiation, Impact Modeling, Analysis, Presentation
client

Kedar Thakar is a Principal Value Consultant at Ericsson, a company with more than 100,000 employees and one of the leading providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to service providers, with over 40% of the world’s mobile traffic carried through their networks. He is responsible for modeling the value of Ericsson’s solutions to customers.

As a value modeler, Kedar is not only involved in the creation of business impact models but also in continuous communications with the account managers to ensure that the models are accurate and user-friendly so that clients make smart business decisions.

I have been doing business impact modeling for many years. Since it is an iterative process, I needed quick turnaround in testing and presenting changes after client interactions.

The business environment Kedar is immersed in requires quick turnaround in model changes and active collaboration with the clients. When Ericsson’s account managers are in sales meetings, Kedar is asked to be ready to help in case the changes required couldn’t be applied by the Account Manager.

Before Visyond

Workflow was complicated

The typical process with Excel involved multiple versions of the model (for each account manager) that were sent via email or shared drives. Version control was done manually, resulting in a huge waste of time, slow responsiveness to customers and undetected errors.

Workflow Was Complicated

Modeler was the main bottleneck

After receiving the initial spreadsheet from Kedar, Ericsson’s account managers would discuss it (in meetings) or send it to clients who would make the changes in their copy, send it back to account managers who could add more changes before sending it back to Kedar for review.

During pricing discussions with large multi-national mobile telecom operators on multi-million request for proposals (RFPs), approximately 25-30 man days were spent on modeling efforts - mainly due to frequent changes requested by customers.

Identifying the latest ‘approved’ version for each customer was a frustrating and painstalking process. As every ‘Excel guru’, Kedar often was a bottleneck that resulted in long turnaround time to avoid accidental costly, difficult to detect, mistakes that are typically introduced when multiple people edit a spreadsheet.

Modeler was a bottleneck

Information was hard to retrieve

In addition, tracking inputs and their authors was very challenging. This information was not readily available in spreadsheets, was hard to retrieve and was hidden in long email threads between account managers and customers.

Visibility was obstructed

Debugging was painful

With Excel, Kedar had to spend a lot of time to ensure that the changes in the continuous back-and-forth communications did not accidentally break the model logic or override key assumptions. Obviously, this process carried a high risk of undetected errors.

Debugging was painful

Analysis setup was manual and time consuming

Routine analytical tasks, such as sensitivity (what-if) analysis or scenario comparison, were done manually, which shifted the focus away from getting insights from the data to setting up Excel.

Effort setting up analysis

It was impossible to answer ‘what-if’ questions on-the-fly

During meetings with the customers, Account Managers were often asked questions like “can you tell me what happens if we do not get x% but y% improvement thank to your solution?”. Answering meant going back to the model to update and test it, redraw charts and update slides. By that time Ericsson provided answers, the customer had prepared new questions. Back to square one.

Impossible to answer What If

The Excel model had to be encoded into a web app to help clients test assumptions independently

Customers often asked to test assumptions by themselves. Real time assumption testing was becoming a priority, especially at trade shows where Ericsson wanted to showcase the value of their solutions and visitors needed a simple way to interact with the model. Obviously, Ericsson could not share the Excel model on the flat screen at their boot because it contained sensitive data, would not look professional, and would be time consuming for customers to understand and edit it.

Therefore, Kedar had to hire software developers to create a web version of his model, sharing only certain key drivers, output cells and charts. Customers could test their assumptions in a simple and intuitive user interface without risking to break the model logic. However, this introduced various issues:

  • High error probability in encoding an Excel model into a programming language
  • Long delays between changes in model logic or correction of errors or software bugs, and redeployment of the web page
  • Lack of flexibility if the customers or fair-goers wanted to play with assumptions that Ericsson decided not to code in the software

The Excel model had to be encoded into a web app

Keeping visualizations in sync with models was troublesome

The work didn’t end with the preparation of the model. After each iteration Kedar had to manually update charts and presentations where they were included, as well as ensure that the data was inline with the source spreadsheet. Given the large volume of models Kedar is working on, having links between models and visualizations get broken by something as simple as changing the file name was indeed very annoying.

Visualizations in sync with the models

After Visyond

Visyond has greatly improved my productivity by reducing time spent on spreadsheet analysis, presentations and updates by more than 80%. This allowed me to focus on business impact rather than the intricacies of modeling I had to deal with in Excel.

Stakeholders interact only with what they are allowed to

Visyond allowed Ericsson to quickly build reliable models, perform analyses on-the-fly, securely share spreadsheets and effectively communicate with the customers in a controlled environment where stakeholders can model and test assumptions seeing and interacting with only what they need/can see while leaving the underlying core logic intact.

Stakeholders interact only with what they are allowed to

Modeler is no longer a bottleneck

Change requests became much easier to manage as manual data consolidation and version comparison were no longer required, which dramatically improved turnaround time and reduced the risk of errors introduced by clients and account managers.

Modeler is no longer a bottleneck

A single source of truth solved the data chaos

With Visyond, Ericsson formed a knowledge base that can be accessed anywhere at any time and contains all changes, scenarios, supporting documentation and conversations. It made tracking inputs and identifying their origins simpler as well as removed the need to manage multiple versions of the same spreadsheet.

A single source of truth solved the data chaos

Dependency analysis and error discovery is easier

Since the modeler, account managers and customers are no longer bounded by emails and multiple spreadsheet versions, the occurrence of errors was greatly reduced. In addition, Visyond provided powerful debugging tools to track dependencies and the root cause of errors.

Dependency analysis and error discovery is easier

Analyses can be set up in minutes

Analyses that used to take multiple days to set up and finalize can be now completed with just a few clicks while also making them easy to update if customers request so, providing great flexibility and improving turnaround time.

Analyses can be set up in minutes

Customers are empowered to safely test assumptions

‘What-if’ questions can now be answered in real time without having to go back to the spreadsheet. The interactive online slides are an outstanding and elegant way to visualize different scenarios with the customer. Numbers can be tested directly in the presentation that is linked to the model without exposing it or changing its content or structure. Therefore, there is no longer a need to manually maintain separate presentation layers on top of the spreadsheet as Visyond can instantaneously adjust to changes in input, output or layout without requiring any development effort from Ericsson.

Customers are empowered to safely test assumptions

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Challenge

  • Workflow was complicated
  • Modeler was the main bottleneck
  • Information was hard to retrieve
  • Debugging was painful
  • Analysis setup was manual and time consuming
  • It was impossible to answer ‘what-if’ questions on-the-fly
  • The Excel model had to be encoded into a web app to help clients test assumptions independently
  • Keeping visualizations in sync with models was troublesome
Solution

  • Controlled secure environment to model and test assumptions
  • Tools to aid in data tracking, gathering and consolidation for controlled information flow
  • Powerful debugging and auditing tools that reduces errors and time
  • 1-click autoanalysis
  • Interactive online presentations to answer ondemand questions and queries
  • Workflow, permission and selective-sharing management
Results at the glance

  • 80% productivity boost
  • Stakeholders interact only with what they are allowed to
  • Modeler is no longer a bottleneck
  • A single source of truth solved the data chaos
  • Dependency analysis and error discovery is easier
  • Analyses can be set up in minutes
  • Customers are empowered to safely test assumptions

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