BiPS Helps Orange Botswana Steer Its Business In Right Direction

With between 400 000 and 500 000 pre- and post-paid customers, Orange Botswana commands 46% of that country's mobile market. Data analysis is critical to ensure customer service excellence and ongoing competitiveness.

With BI Planning Services (BIPS) the mobile operator has made this a reality, increasing productivity and better informing decisions that affect operations and strategy.

Says Lillian Ndlovu, BI Manager at Orange, Botswana: "With our subscriber base growing at a rate of approximately 15 000 new customers a month, we need to concentrate on analysis. However, our reporting system, which depended on manual scripts run from our two databases (one for prepaid and the other for postpaid customers), was too slow and unsophisticated to enable this."

Adds Ian Makgabana, CIO at Orange Botswana: "Not having the necessary data to guide business decisions was like driving a car without a speedometer. Strategic and operational decisions were being affected. Putting a functional data warehouse and reporting system in place was a priority to enable the IT team and executives to begin focusing on the analysis of data. BI Planning Services was accordingly appointed to create a robust infrastructure and reporting system that would meet our needs."

Explains Jannie Strydom, operations director at BIPS: "The data warehouse created in 2002 no longer met user requirements. Orange acquired France Telecom in 2003, also taking over the management of Vista in Botswana and renaming it Orange. The majority of Orange Botswana's clients are prepaid customers, with only about 5% of the total customer base making use of postpaid subscriptions. Two different databases were being used and this information needed to be centralised in the warehouse. We also needed to gather new user requirements and set new key performance indicators."

Adds Ndlovu: "The data warehouse and BI system had to cater to the needs of the finance and credit control department as well as marketing and customer services. Standard reports for all of these divisions were created and training allows users to now also draw ad hoc reports that meet their unique requirements."

The mobile operator's Cognos implementation was upgraded to the latest version, Cognos 8 BI, allowing the organisation to analyse data to identify trends such as the growth of prepaid versus contract subscriptions, peak call periods, who is selling airtime, usage, collections on contracts, and more.

Says Ndlovu: "The greatest benefits are that we no longer have to run manual scripts to get our daily and monthly reports. These are automated and are delivered in a fraction of the time previously required. This means the IT team as well as executives and heads of departments can make faster and better informed decisions on all aspects of the business.

"Our BI solution can now also be used for in-depth data analysis that lets us explore other aspects of the business - even allowing for projections and what-if scenario creation. This ensures we are timeously alerted to new developments and trends and can act to support the best interests of our subscribers and shareholders, as well as maintain our competitive-edge."

Key challenges included changing the reporting methods of users. "There was some resistance to change," says Ndlovu. "Users were used to sending in spreadsheets and being fed the information they needed. The new system requires they make an effort to access the data themselves. Training allowed them to learn to manipulate the data themselves, however. The value they received from this, drove adoption."

BIPS completed the project in five months, with the system going live in May 2006. Further developments include the integration of Orange Botswana's prepaid financial systems into Cognos

Says Makgabana: "Our philosophy is simple: Orange believes in the future. We make a difference to people's lives by creating simple and innovative services that help people communicate and interact better. We aim to be the first for service, quality, innovation and choice. The technology systems that support our operations are fundamental to our achieving these goals. We believe the data warehouse and Cognos reporting system will stand us in good stead as we continue to strive for excellence at Orange Botswana."