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How Telia Estonia transformed its data analytics with Tableau.

This article is also available in Estonian translation.

Telia in Estonia modernized its data analytics platform with Tableau and increased substantially its self-service analytics level in whole organization.

Telia is the largest telecommunications services company in Estonia. Telia is currently the local market leader in most services and products, though the telecom sector is very competitive and in rapid change constantly both globally and in Estonia.

As a highly data-driven company, Telia recently upgraded its data analytics platform to Tableau, which allows them to keep pace with market developments and help all employees in the organization to better use and understand their data.

The project was led by the Head of Customer and Business Analytics Erki Pogoretski and the leading analyst Rainer Mesi. They'll jointly introduce the implementation of the whole project below: why it was done, its goals and the results so far.

Erki Pogoretski

Telia Estonia was formed in 2014 through the merger of mobile operator EMT and broadband operator Elion. This put the entire organization, including the business intelligence team, in a position where they needed to consolidate and analyze data from a very wide variety of sources, given that telecom companies are already very data-intensive. In the first phase after the merger, data consolidation and reporting was executed through migrating the data warehouses of both companies to a new common platform. From there on new questions arose like: why we are doing so, what is affecting something, and how can we see more detailed insight into the data. In both organizations, SAP Business Objects was used as a business analytics solution, but it did not provide answers quickly enough anymore.

Telia is a data-driven company, where data not only proves past decisions but above all supports decision-making. Data and information must be shared in the whole organization so that all employees can use it to make business decisions. Telia's ambition in using data is not only to evaluate decisions in the past, but rather to improve its business decisions in advance based on data .

Telia acknowledges that they operate in the VUCA world, which means that they operate in an environment that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Analytics expectations change very quickly. Also the speed to insight has increased substantially so that after new data is generated, it must be quickly available to enable analyses and validation. Analyzing average customer was no longer enough and analytics expectations are also diversified. This created a need for a better understanding of the situation and the use of visual tools to highlight the data. It was important to bring the data closer to the business and make it as easy to use as possible.

All this led to a situation where the legacy solution was no longer satisfactory. Telia performed search for a new modern solution, that made it possible to meet the growing expectations. It was also important to provide analysts and data architects with good tools for analyzing and visualizing data and allowing for fast data processing.

Telia carried out a thorough evaluation and decided to go with Tableau as their future analytics tool. They found out that Tableau requires significantly less technical competence, is less dependent on IT, ensures strong interest among enthusiasts and thus the highest involvement in the first round of users. It was important that more active business users, who are enthusiastic about their way of thinking and who want to better understand the data, join the project quickly. In addition, the tool had to be as simple as possible for the analyst: it should not be constantly dependent on IT and would not require programming.

Tableau allows analysts to access data directly from the data warehouse or source systems, which in turn ensured flexibility and the analysts' ability to respond quickly. One important criterion for selection was the availability of information and support materials: how easily the analyst or the average user can find answers to the questions by googling and how well the software manufacturer's own online tutorials and help documentation works on the web.

In order to move on with the project, it was also necessary to get the acceptance from the business side. It turned out very successful as it was possible to prove that the new solution is significantly better than the existing one already with the first demos. The business side received confirmation that in the future data will be much easily used and understood by them. At the beginning of the transition project Telia did not look for opportunities that would offer something to everyone immediately, but selected business units that had more critical concerns and created new solution for them. This immediately ensured the fans on the business side, who quickly became friends with the solution and formed an active user community.

That made customer analytics as the first unit to provide Tableau solutions so that they could more effectively analyze the customer base in order to see the insights and events more visually. Then other areas and teams started to join and enable Telia reach to the point where they could plan to shut down the old reporting system .

At Telia, Tableau was not planned as complementary analytics solutions to their old reporting system, but immediately they set more ambitious goal: to transfer all analytics and reporting solutions to the new visual platform. If someone needed data and analytics solutions in the organization, then Tableau is the primary channel for that. Maintaining two systems in parallel did not seem sensible and possible.

The transition project lasted almost 2 years at Telia and it allowed new solutions to be added to Tableau at reasonable pace. The arrangement was that all new analytics solutions would be developed in Tableau and nothing would be altered in the old system anymore. Today, the optimal situation for users has been achieved in terms of both the number of users and the transfer of content. Tableau is essentially aimed at the entire organization, and the old solution can be switched off permanently in the near future.

Tableau has also increased significantly data security and usage monitoring at Telia. In the past, detailed data was available to all users. Now they can see the data, but it always stays securely on the server and is not downloadable to the users' local machines. Users use only visual interactive dashboards now and can see data through the browser based server environment. Based on current GDPR requirements, it would be no longer conceivable that data would be downloaded by business users to local machines and there would be unknown number of copies distributed in multiple locations.

There were obviously multiple challenges during the migration. The typical situation was often encountered where the user was used to see the data predominantly in table format. In the old system, all reports were tables. However, this habit and expectation was quickly overcome by the analyst doing something unique and innovative for the data user: an interactive visual solution was created that highlighted the main value of the data for the user. The business user received the insight immediately and did not have to process the data further in Excel. This was, of course, a natural method and solution for Tableau. In the past the reports were based exactly on the customer's requirements and then the customer would continue to work and analyze the data in Excel afterwards - now Telia focuses more on the value and the questions that the solution should address.

Some key advantaged that have been achieved with Tableau by Telia so far:

  • The availability of data has improved significantly, not in the sense that data can be downloaded, but in a way that provides easier answers to questions.

  • The user-experience of using Tableau analytics platform is much better compared to the previous platform. It is much easier to find the data visualizations, reports and answers you need.

  • The reports themselves are also flexible and meet the expectations of more users.

  • Analysts can respond to analytics requests and questions much faster.

  • The business side has developed significantly better engagement in the process. There have been identified several fans among business users who enjoy analyzing their own data. This will allow them to satisfy their curiosity and analytical needs themselves through self-service analytics.

Obviously, this all lays the groundwork for better business decisions throughout the whole organization.

Rainer Mesi
We hear wow-effects from users very often now: they get an answer to their question without further data processing!

At Telia, all employees use data to make decisions. Therefore, it can be said that Telia employs 1,600 analysts. Tableau is used throughout the organization today. Tableau not only gives them answers to their primary questions, but helps them find

also new questions and thus enable deeper insight.

For most users, the use of data has shifted to self-service solutions, where users can better navigate their own data and create their own analytical views. It currently works in Tableau solution on three levels:

  1. It is possible to perform a simple search In Tableau from all analytical content and it allows the user to find a data visualization / report that the user might not been even aware before, but which provides him with important information when performing his work.

  2. A powerful visual and interactive dashboard has been created for users, where the user can navigate and find answers to questions on several levels and in different sections.

  3. There have been defined and centrally managed data sources for users and these enable them to perform their own analysis using Tableau's browser-based self-service authoring tool.

Telia has offered various Tableau trainings to educate and engage its employees. There are special trainings for analysts and casual users. This also applies to different levels. Users are also allowed to use the Tableau e-learning environment. In cooperation with Tableau and Wizon there has been organized special Tableau Day twice that is targeted to all interested users and where is presented valuable information about both the internal work organization and good tips for using Tableau.

By now, the 2-year transition project is near to its completion. Both Telia analysts and users are very satisfied with the results. With a good analytics solution, Telia feels much more confident in a competitive situation.


If you would like to get more information about Tableau and how Tableau and Wizon can contribute to the development of your organization's business analytics, let us know and we would be glad to help.


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