When Clint Vosloo, CEO and Founder of BI in the Box, a Capetown, South Africa- based business intelligence company, called on a prospect earlier this year, he expected it would be a routine pitch meeting.
Like he always does before meeting potential clients, Vosloo searched the Web for the prospect’s publically available data, downloaded it to his iPad, and readied what he calls his “secret weapon,” SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand. “I like to show the customer the ‘art of the possible’ with their own data,” he says. “In this case, I found some of the company’s data in a (Microsoft) Word document, extracted that data, put it into SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand in the cloud, and started slicing and dicing the data.”
What Vosloo found was shocking.
“I pulled the company’s board members in and I said, ‘Looking at your information I think someone is stealing from you,’” he recalls.
The board reviewed Vosloo’s findings, found them credible, and immediately launched an internal investigation. It took just two days to confirm the fraud and uncover its magnitude: The scam was costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars every month – U.S.$2.8 million a year.
Vosloo spotted red flags in the data right away, and the full extent of the scheme was apparent after just a few days of investigation. How then did the company – a large, well established firm with many subsidiaries – miss something like this?
“It was a situation you see all too often,” explains Vosloo. “The company had been staring at the same report for well over a decade and never fully grasped the implications of the data. Then, suddenly, when the data was presented in a visual way, instead of being buried in long-winded auditor’s reports, they could see, finally, what had always been there.”
Paper trail in emerging markets
Vosloo says visual analytics can have a particularly powerful impact in emerging markets. “The opportunity of what the visual experience can be for a customer is pretty amazing, because inside Africa, and in other emerging markets, a lot of people are running their businesses on paper-based trails or simple spreadsheets. When a company can access their data in a way that they can see what their information means visually, it’s very powerful and can bring enormous benefit to their business.”
Vosloo admits he’s biased – BI in the Box is a certified SAP partner, and Vosloo himself is an SAP mentor; nonetheless, he says, “I just love SAP BI OnDemand!”
“The beauty of this product,” Vosloo continues, “besides the fact that it’s free, is that very quickly you can be slicing and dicing your static data and getting new insights into your data and a vision of what’s possible with your data.”
The tip of the iceberg
In the case of Vosloo’s South African prospect, a company that asked not to be identified (sap.info did confirm Vosloo’s story), just a few hours with the free version of SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand saved the company millions and uncovered a serious security breach. And that, asserts Vosloo, is just the tip of the iceberg. “You can never underestimate the power of customers seeing information that they can relate to.”
Not surprisingly, Vosloo made this sale. “When I went back to the board, I began my presentation with a slide that highlighted the U.S.$2.8 million savings we found with SAP BI OnDemand. After that, it wasn’t a matter of if they were going to implement, the only question was when.”