ACER EMEA - Case Study

ACER Europe chooses BOARD to improve Business Analytics, Planning and Simulation Processes

The Company

Acer Europe is one of the leading PC vendors in the world, whose mission is to break the barriers between people and technology. The company is devoted to designing IT systems that improve usability and add value to their customers’ needs. Acer's products range from smartphones and tablets to the more traditional PCs, desktops and notebooks. Besides consumer products, they also have a presence in the rapidly growing cloud technology sector with BYOC (Build Your Own Cloud), which allows the user to have full control of their own cloud environment. Acer EMEA – which manages brands such as Acer, Gateway and Packard Bell - represents about 40% of the company's global business.  Their products are carried by almost every major retailer throughout the world and the multi-brand strategy allows each brand to target different customer needs in the PC market.

 

The Challenges

One is more than three: a software selection process driven by the unification of Business Intelligence, Predictive Analytics and Performance Management

Acer EMEA was looking for a solution to effectively and efficiently plan and control their sales cycle, increase profitability, and perform detailed business simulations and sales forecasting. “We were sinking in an Excel ocean and multiple versions of the same spreadsheets were floating around” – the CIO of Acer EMEA says. “We were looking for a system to replace an in-house solution developed with .net visual basic and we needed to break away from our unilateral dependence on the few programmers who internally understood that solution, and who were constantly overwhelmed with frequent, small requests.

 

The Selection Process

The key drivers for software selection were very clear:  they needed a cost-effective flexible framework which everyone could easily work with, offering a single version of the truth for planning and reporting purposes. “We started comparing several solutions before we chose BOARD. In particular we looked at Cognos TM1, but their license was very expensive and it was also comprised of multiple different code bases that they had acquired and integrated. On the other hand, Qlik and Tableau were limited to data visualization and lacked functional completeness to meet our business needs,” the CIO affirms. In fact, he was well aware of the dangers that would result from aligning two (or more) natively different products – respectively for BI and CPM – rather than using just one. “There was a small proof of concept and then, based on the complexity and on the amount of resources that we needed to involve, we found that the BOARD resources involvement was minimum. BOARD was promising to achieve all of our objectives with minimum effort.”

A fundamental step in the selection of BOARD” – continues Fabrizio Berardi, Acer IT Project Manager – “was the prototype stage, during which, to be totally sure of our choice, we also included an important period of training.”  According to the CIO “it was quite interesting to discover that a neighbor company based in Switzerland - BOARD International - provided what we were looking for: a consistent, user-friendly and customer-oriented solution. The final decision has been easy. Now I can say that we made a good choice as we have a very successful implementation.

 

The Solution and The Benefits

1 platform, 25 countries, 350 users and a single version of the truth

BOARD applications do make a difference,” said the CIO.  “One thing that stands out from BOARD is that it combines BI and CPM in one solution. I am from IT, so actually it simplifies the IT landscape. Instead of maintaining multiple systems or at least two frameworks, we have just one platform. This is one of the key reasons why we chose BOARD: the tool will enable us to manage Planning activities and Business Intelligence in a single environment, avoiding the management and continuous alignment of different applications, and ensuring better access to information. On the other hand, BOARD is perhaps the only product on the market that grants the flexibility we need to effectively manage planning and controlling processes characterized by constant changes in products and business lines, typical of an industry with a high rate of innovation, as the one in which we operate.

Acer EMEA has about 25 different locations, so it used to take a long time to collect all the data coming from various sources. There used to be people spending days managing spreadsheets and having difficulties in understanding which version of the spreadsheets they were working on. “Today, thanks to the BOARD system – one of the key tools that we use in our business forecasting process – we have a very structured, standardized and transparent process that helps us collect data in a timely manner,explained the CIO.  “It used to take days and now it takes hours to collect data. Of course, with the level of clarity we reached, we are more capable of reacting to situational changes, and the information is more visible across the company. We have 350 users distributed in 25 countries across EMEA and we are now able to understand our customers better based on what they are asking for, at what price, at with what features.” In this way BOARD contributes to Acer EMEA’s aim of breaking the barriers between people and technology, helping the company to gain better commercial insights.

Once our users realized they really were saving time, the data was coming out in a more accurate and transparent way, within a more configurable framework,” continued the CIO. “Users fully understood the benefits of the system.

BOARD’s solution is one of the key systems that we are using right now to do our business planning,” the CIO concludes. “We invested in this project and of course we will use it increasingly across the business. We are continuing to explore other areas of implementation to capitalize on our investment and increase growth in forecasting, simulation and finance. Data flexibility is fundamental and it is the field where BOARD is outstanding.