In October 2020, IBM held its Data and AI Forum, a virtual event designed to give attendees the tools to accelerate their journeys to AI. During the event, L’Oréal’s Laurent Mesnier shared his company’s story of finance transformation and its AI journey. Watch the replay.

One of the world’s largest beauty brands, L’Oréal needed to unify finance data, systems, processes, and analytics across many divisions and countries. “We had a lot of local solutions from users with data crunching and manual entry,” says Laurent Mesnier, FP&A Information Systems Manager at L’Oreal, “but no ability to share the data with each other. We were lacking a common language on data and processes, which led to quality concerns.” To ensure sound governance and data accuracy, L’Oreal’s FP&A team made the business-critical decision to launch a single, centralized analytics platform built on solutions from IBM to serve more than 2,500 users worldwide.

Address data challenges and siloed analytics practices

Decentralized global organizations with many departments often face control and governance challenges. With thousands of users spread across different geographies using a variety of tools – and generating many different types of reports – maintaining financial oversight can be costly. Interoperability, different local regulations and time-consuming manual processes create concerns about quality control, liability, and ultimately, competitiveness, limiting business potential.

To respond quickly to market opportunities and threats, global organizations need a comprehensive view of financial processes. Equally important, they need to provide successful collaborative experiences for employees and partners, accomplished through sharing and enhancing best practices and speeding and simplifying complex processes. Standardization, automation, advanced business analytics and visualizations offer powerful tools to accomplish these goals.

Using business analytics tools to get the job done

“We started a global project to build a unique system and harmonize data for a single and consistent view of the business,” says Laurent Mesnier. Working with IBM, L’Oreal developed a proprietary tool called COMPASS, which centralizes and standardizes data using and IBM Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos Analytics.

Mesnier explained how COMPASS and IBM solutions work with each other: “We used Planning Analytics and Cognos Analytics to build a unique system for finance purposes, which addresses simulation and reporting for day-to-day processes for controllers at different regional levels. For example, local controllers use standardized processes to do simulation and COMPASS is a global and harmonized source of information that we utilize.”

To implement the COMPASS project, L’Oreal faced a daunting challenge. How could the company harmonize and centralize finance processes across such a broad and diverse user base? With strong finance governance and the right technical expertise at the table, L’Oreal was able to make this vision a reality.

Partnering to improve user experience today and in the future

L’Oreal has about 2,500 Planning Analytics with Watson users executing about 200,000 reports each month; using COMPASS, users enjoy a live view of their data. “Our largest Planning Analytics instances are close to one terabyte,” says Mesnier, “and our library offers around 1,000 complex reports available to end users. Thanks to this, COMPASS is generating a high level of trust in financial figures.”

To improve integration of both Cognos and Planning Analytics with Watson with COMPASS, the analytics teams at L’Oreal have both received feedback from their users and provided ongoing feedback to IBM. With this insight, IBM has been able to incorporate customer experience enhancements directly into the product roadmaps.

Laurent Mesnier looks forward to the latest release of Cognos 11.1.7. “We are very interested in dashboards with 11.1.7 — these are much more powerful and we think they are adapted to our very demanding needs.” L’Oreal’s team also looks forward to ongoing product enhancements. Planning Analytics Workspace includes dramatic improvements in its latest release, with IBM working to apply AI to multidimensional data sources. Users will be able to gain deeper insights with greater ease, speed, and accuracy by having an AI-infused centralized analytics solution with the right governance tools in place.

How to embrace AI: IBM’s AI Ladder

IBM helps brands like L’Oréal make their data ready for AI in hybrid cloud and virtualized environments. With the Ladder to AI™, IBM has developed a prescriptive approach to help clients accelerate their journey to AI. Conceived as a series of rungs on a ladder, each step addresses critical milestones on that journey.

Because they operationalize AI throughout business processes, Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos occupy the Infuse rung. Planning Analytics with Watson helps clients automate planning, forecasting and budgeting processes, while Cognos Analytics makes data prep, analysis, and reporting faster and smarter.

Continuing your journey: embracing AI

Though AI is a defining transformation technology, successful adoption remains challenging. With AI built into solutions like Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos, users can embrace AI seamlessly and obtain more accurate results in less time. Learn more about how IBM is helping clients embrace AI.

To learn more about L’Oreal’s experience with Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos on their journey to AI, register for the on-demand webinar.

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