This story is part of Analytics Heroes, a series of profiles on leaders transforming the future of business analytics.

After getting wired with a microphone pack, Zdenek Hanzal sits down in front of a camera crew ready to discuss his passion: analytics. A native to Czech Republic and currently living in Paris, France, Zdenek revels in his career as a Senior Analytics Architect who spends his days providing analytics solutions for L’Oreal, the world’s leading cosmetic company.

For the last six years, he’s been a guiding member of the L’Oreal Group’s COMPASS Project team. COMPASS is L’Oreal’s global FP&A (financial planning and analysis) solution, built on IBM® Planning Analytics powered by TM1 and IBM Cognos Analytics. “It’s a key strategic tool used by our worldwide finance teams for financial planning and reporting,” says Zdenek.

Being an agent for change

Zdenek oversees the business intelligence aspects of the project. “I lead report development and ensure we follow the best practices in our solution’s architecture and I collaborate closely with the business team to build a system that addresses our company’s challenges.” On an average day, Zdenek most enjoys the interaction with his close-knit team, not only being the lead, but also sharing the workload. “We’re sitting together, working together on the solution, constantly improving the system based on user feedback,” says Zdenek.

With 2,000 enterprise users worldwide, L’Oreal’s COMPASS team gets a lot of feedback. Fortunately, they are able to quickly iterate during testing. “With our recent migration to IBM Cognos Analytics 11, we can use automated testing to quickly validate insights drawn from thousands of complex analytical reports,” he says. This process allows him to save time and cost for his clients.

Seeing the invisible and mapping a tactical solution

Zdenek and his team recognized that L’Oreal’s global user base would benefit from a more integrated and customized user experience. So, they created the COMPASS portal as a single entry point through which users could discover the power of both IBM Planning Analytics and IBM Cognos Analytics at L’Oreal.

“We took a design-thinking approach to the project, which we began by asking users their business needs,” says Zdenek. “Over several workshops, we walked through user requirements, and how they would access the processes available in the portal.” Having clear objectives ensured that the portal was more than just a pretty interface. “We didn’t want to just make it look good — we saw it as an opportunity to rethink the way users approached getting the answers they needed.”

In addition to identifying useful reporting and business intelligence workflows, the team did extensive user testing to develop a truly human-centered interface. “Over several ergonomic sessions with professional consultants, we identified helpful techniques such as color-coding various modules and adding iconography to the navigation system,” says Zdenek. Fitting for a company headquartered in France, they used the analogy of the Paris Métro system to guide users through their solution journeys, with clearly marked “stations” along the way.

Zdenek says the improved interface of IBM Cognos Analytics 11 helped open doors to its functionality: “It gave us a better perspective on all the new features, to which we were then able to build shortcuts within the portal. We’re looking forward to having our users test the new features, and fitting them into dashboards, stories, and explorations based on business requirements.”

The response to the portal was overwhelmingly positive. “People were wowed,” says Zdenek. “They said, ‘We love it!’ They loved the guidance we gave them for each process we built.”

Being an Analytics Hero: insights and intentions

Zdenek and his team migrated thousands of reports to deploy to L’Oreal team members worldwide, and had many takeaways from this implementation. “The first lesson is to keep a clean data environment. Gather the content you won’t be using anymore, and try to automate your cleaning process, because you’ll need to do it again in the future,” he says. “Secondly, automate the test cases that will help you validate the data. We used the tools provided by our partner, which will help us speed up the process, evolve the information in our reports, and upgrade faster in the future.”

“I’m flattered to be recognized as an Analytics Hero,” says Zdenek, though he acknowledges it was a team effort. “The L’Oreal executives were really excited about building this new portal, pushing us to build something new, and we all felt the passion for the project. It was a long process, and we had excellent cooperation with IBM the whole time.”

With COMPASS being an overwhelming success, “I’m looking forward to continuing this work with IBM, to deliver new analytical capabilities to our users,” says Zdenek. Who knows what interface or solutions Zdenek Hanzal will provide in the future? Regardless, it is a very high probability this Analytics Hero will have another success story.

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