Seznam's Return on BI, Part Two

by Keboola

No one has been fired because of the data yet – Michal Buzek reveals the backstage of Seznam’s Business Intelligence

When we last spoke with Michal Buzek, we uncovered that Seznam’s investment in business intelligence paid itself off more than 10 times in only three months. However, we wanted to dig deeper into the specific changes GoodData made in the work of business teams, how it affects the running of their company and how Seznam will leverage data to evolve.

Does GoodData give you any answers out of scope of the regular reports?

What exactly do you mean by regular reports? The fact is our salesmen know their clients much better thanks to GoodData and this, in my opinion, is priceless. Today we know that our client invests tens of thousands with us, but at the same time spends millions on billboards. We therefore work with the seasonality, and we are approaching people according to the branches of their business. We can also analyze the portfolios of businessmen and business teams, and find clients who we can provide with better care. We were able to do all this before (and we did) but it’s incomparably easier and quicker today with the use of GoodData.

I think the key is not one all-encompassing report that opens our eyes – it is having a set of practical reports that are always on hand and are used to help in our everyday work.

Are the business people easily getting used to it?

A few times in Seznam I have heard that a business person is supposed to do business - not rummage in tables. That is why we debugged the reports and made sure the graphs are clear and understandable at first glance. Thanks to that, GoodData became an everyday tool for a business person, a tool that they use before every meeting with a client. This allows them to find out the client’s media strategy, advertising development, customs, and many other types of data before the meeting even begins.

Has analytics ever helped those business people that you thought wouldn’t have been as receptive to the technology?

Some have discovered GoodData already, others still have ways to go. But this year I have noticed a greater hunger for data among the business people. From some of them, I  absolutely haven‘t expected that. It‘s a pleasure to see that GoodData is not just a tool for the top and senior management. All employees can profit from using this tool and gain useful information from GoodData.

Have you let anyone go based on the data?

Not yet, or not that I know of.  But I must say, the business projects in GoodData allow the managers to control their people much more effectively.

Can you be more specific?

The manager is able to see the content of contracted advertisements and the number of visits of every single client. If for example, the client contracted orders of 50k and the business people came to visit 15 times, it tells you something is probably wrong. Conversely, it’s also a mistake when you see a client with advertisement costs of over 2 million and in the history of communication you can only see one record. Either the business person is extremely effective or he doesn‘t care about completing the records from the meetings. 

Do the managers use this information or are they just aware of it?

They use it. Based on detailed statistics they are able to talk to their people in a much more specific way. You can see immediately where a business person is wasting their time and what they should be focusing on instead. Of course you can’t exaggerate these statistics, but I hear a lot of positive feedback from the managers.

Has data analytics changed how Seznam functions?

Most of the people in our company know that the only correct and important numbers are found in GoodData. The top management gather the information necessary to manage the whole firm, the Product Managers follow KPIs and task fulfillment, the Controller sees the expenses and incomes, the Business Managers follow the results of their teams and clients, and the PR department see the statistics from social networks etc.

What about people from other departments? Do they contact you with report demands?

Yes, they do. It’s great that the grapevine works in Seznam. For example, last month the guys from Sklik came to me, as well as the Manager of Mobile Advertisement, and  the Planner of Media Space. They saw some useful reports that other people had and wanted to make their own. They saw that it could actually help them with their work.

How many people use GoodData at your company?

About 75, with 50 of those working in sales. Some managers even use GoodData to make XLS or PDF documents of which they share with others; so in the end there are many more people working with GoodData.

Have the outputs from GoodData found their way to your office meetings?

In the meetings of top management, reports from GoodData have become a standard for the past couple years. We have used these reports to review expenses, incomes, the fulfillment of indicators compared to plan along with other factors. At the meetings of business teams, they mostly discuss reports with advertisement monitoring, the history of communication, and the advertisement outputs in concrete advertisement products. Also, people from services, sales, and marketing regularly meet and watch their KPIs in Seznam.

What do you see as the biggest profit from GoodData/Keboola solutions?

I have mentioned many profits already, so I’ll share with you some of the other added benefits. The greatest pleasure for me personally, is when I see the people in company actually using GoodData and Keboola. I get to see them absolutely excited about the dashboards that we‘ve made for them, even though we are just showing them the data we have always had in Seznam. Before it just wasn’t so easily accessible and now it is all in one place. There also wasn’t the possibility of examining information in the detail there is now.

Is there any report that you prefer?

I think the strength is in its simplicity. The business people prefer that the tables are loaded with useful information. For example, rows show information on clients, columns show information of their price list expenses at Seznam and outside Seznam. The business people are thrilled when they’re able to find the place where our client advertised and exactly what they promoted all in one simple click.

I personally like the tab with two flow charts. For instance, on the left this tab shows the extent of a client‘s investments into advertising by their price list from the database of advertisement monitoring. The one on the right one shows the extent in real prices from the sales system of Seznam. 

You can therefore see things like this client advertised heavily in 2013 – but not at Seznam. Thanks to the data that fact was uncovered and our business people managed to put Seznam back in the game in October.

So what’s next? Have you got any ideas where to go next with this whole thing?

My goal is to help Seznam build extremely efficient business teams. As our sales director once said – “we should be able to send our business people to the right clients, in the right time, and with the right offer”.

How can data help that goal in your opinion?

I want the business people to see themselves in GoodData. Based on the data I want them to see what clients they should approach first. Expanding by more data sources would also help with this, as well as getting more detailed client segmentation. What’s important with all this is education. Right now we are preparing a workshop for business managers, so they can get the most information from GoodData for their work.

Do you think you‘d manage to work without GoodData and Keboola Connection today?

Well if you offered me a tool equipped at least as well as GoodData, then I would.  But I’m a realist. If there was anything better in the market, I would be aware of it. But certainly, I wouldn’t want to return to the Excel and Access times.

Do you feel you are more beneficial to your company thanks to data analytics?

That’s a very difficult question. I try to be that way. But the benefit doesn’t depend entirely on me or the guys who work with GoodData. What’s important is the support of the data from the sales department and from the whole company. In other words – it’s important how data is acquired and used in practice. I think that we have been able to convince more people in Seznam about the value of data. And hopefully, thats how the influence of the analytics department grows.

You’re not getting out of it so easily – has your value on the labour market grown?

When it’s needed, I’ll put it in my CV. I have been here since the very beginning of implementing GoodData into Seznam. I’m able to arrange datasets and build a data model in Keboola Connection. I’m no star, but I have gathered some experience and even if I didn’t need it anymore, the last two years with GoodData and Keboola were really fun for me.

Would you go into the whole thing again?

Definitely. If I ever finish at Seznam and some other company wants me to go through their data, I’ll totally go across Karlín in Prague.

Seznam's Return on BI, Part One