VASCO Worldwide is an avant-garde travel service, providing travellers worldwide with a wide array of products and services, assuring comfort, affordability and security. VASCO helps over 14 million people annually with everything from VISA acquisition to the right backpack.
VASCO needed a single point of truth, as their information was inconsistent, hindering growth. Their analysts were spending too much time looking for data and too little time analysing.
In this interview, Jedox Head of Market Awareness for Asia Sam Perrin speaks to VASCO’s Head of Process Excellence Parthasarathy Sivaraman, about how VASCO revolutionized their corporate efficiency with Jedox.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: What was the pain point that prompted you to look for a new BI solution?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, Process Excellence, VASCO Worldwide: There was a need for a BI solution, mainly because we have multiple systems. As part of management and for me it is extremely critical and important to have a single version of truth. The issue was with multiple systems providing multiple reports, each disconnect with one another and a lot of time being spent on finding the right information to analyse. This drew us to the need for a BI environment, where we would be able to aggregate information across multiple systems and bring everything into one unified solution, so that we could analyse information and generate reports in a much more effective manner.
The other problem was that people were spending a significant amount of time, maybe 80-90% of the time, trying to get information rather than analyse intelligently. Only a miniscule percentage of time was spent analysing information and giving valuable information to top management, as well as to operations worldwide. With Jedox BI, we have made that same information available within seconds, and we have much more time to analyse this information, and bring something effective and productive out of it.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: Why did you opt for Jedox?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: There were a wide range of competitors, but Jedox came out as the most effective tool for our purposes.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: Effective in what way?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: The ease of use is what appealed to us. There was no requirement for an individual to be trained in a particular system. Because as long as you know Excel, you can use Jedox. Even in the process of connecting an application or a tool, Jedox is easy to use.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: What sort of systems did Jedox need to bring together?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: There’s an in-house operating system (OpSys) for our mainstay business. As part of the business, there are a lot of value added services that we perform, for which we have a Point of Sales system. Then we have a CRM system called ARMS (Applicant Relationship Management System). We have Oracle as our financial ERP. Then there’s HRIS, which is our Human Resources Information System. Jedox BI helped us bring all these systems and probably even more going forward all under a click of a button.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: How did you go about looking for a BI solution?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: Our initial step was to understand what we really need?. As a first step, we gathered the requirement from across the group. We sat down with individual departments, functions and managers and asked what the main drivers were for them to make key decisions, then we converted that info into an RFP.
I already knew (Jedox EMEA Channel Director) Andreas Simon. I talked to him and let him know that we were looking for a BI solution. Andreas put me in touch with Wasseim Al-Zouabi, of Dastech, Jedox’s Dubai-based partner. I got in touch with Wasseim, and from the start it was clear that Wasseim and his team had an understanding of our plan, and then they put together a proposal. After a couple of presentations to the management and the board, we chose Jedox.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: When Wasseim and the team from Dastech first came in, what was your first impression?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: They were very young, enthusiastic and diverse, and they showed us that they were flexible enough to meet our requests. I don’t think there was ever a situation where either Wasseim or Andreas ever said “no, we can’t do that”. They really showed us that they were an organization that was extremely flexible, that they wanted to add value to the organization.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: How did the implementation run?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO Worldwide: We divided the project into five phases, and each phase related to the five major applications, which we use. We did a whole load of customization of reports and some of the key elements within Jedox. This enabled us to get that information that we needed.
Just to give you a hint as to the size of implementation, we had heard was that one of Jedox’s biggest clients had 20 or so dimensions. When we implemented Jedox, we started with discussions on 25 or a 26 dimensions, because that’s the kind of data which we have. So the size of the implementation itself was really huge. We would implement one phase, do user testing, go back, make some changes. Then we got to a stage where we were ready to go live, and we’d move onto the next phase, which meant that although the implementation was long, it was smooth and extremely successful.
The day we went live we made a presentation. The kind of information which would have typically taken us as an organization a couple of months to gather was available on the fly. Within minutes or seconds, those reports would come up.
The second thing was the accuracy. Our Management is very particular about accuracy of information. We were demonstrating cubes and numbers, and they were absolutely on the dot. The accuracy levels were extremely high, and that got everyone going.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: Vasco holds a very unique position in its industry. What are your major challenges?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: It’s a very unique sector. From a wide perspective it falls under the outsourcing industry. But it’s not typical outsourcing, we do visa processing outsourcing. Different businesses align together with this one focus of assisting customers to apply for visas worldwide.
So we need IT to work optimally. That’s been the key challenge because the number of users is so huge. Annually we look at around 14 to 20 million applicants, who come into our centres to apply for visas. But there are almost three times more people who come onto our website and systems to seek information. So we are talking about around 60 million people in the system. So one of our biggest challenges is to keep our IT systems up and running.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: How does Jedox help with those challenges?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: We have to try to keep the website up at all times, and Jedox helps us to understand trends. Before Jedox, we faced lack of information. There could be calls from South Korea one day, there could be calls from Singapore the other day, saying the system is down. Jedox helps us look at it from a trend analysis and a regional point of view, it shows us where we have problems keeping the website running. We can then start asking if our servers are adequately designed, is this the best setup to cater to the area? Or is it something to do with the server not being able to put up with the number of people coming through SE Asia. That’s one aspect of it.
The other is that it helps to give us reports and gather information worldwide. It would take me, as an individual, probably half a day to get information from each centre, to say “ok guys, can you tell me what your counts for the day are”, and now I just log in and look at the counts and revenue report. I generate everything on the fly, and see what the variations are. I can then say “Ok, there seems to be an issue, this is where I’m going to address it, this is how I’m going to address it”.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: Your average user, how does it make their life easier on a day-to-day basis?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: The guys who use BI today are those users who generate and look at reports. For them it’s a significant time saving. In an 8-hour work day, they used to spend about 5‐6 hours looking for information, and only 1‐2 hours analysing the information. Now they have a lot more time, because the information is available in minutes. Then they have enough time to analyse information, and get down into what is the root cause of a certain problem, or a certain issue. They can find solutions immediately. It’s the reverse scenario. They’ve gone from 90% of the time looking for information and 10% analysing to 10% looking for information and 90% analysing and acting on that information.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: What’s next for Vasco and Jedox?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: From now on we’ll be expanding. Right now, Jedox and Dastech together are working on our next initiative.
Worldwide we have 77 companies, which depend on a single shared services center running out of India. The new program is now to bring the shared services center into Jedox. So that’s one initiative which is running.
There are two more key initiatives which I’ve planned for the next 3 months. One is to build a much more detailed planning, budgeting and forecasting tool. The second, which is more important to me, is to start building data analytics capabilities within BI. Those are two critical agendas, which we’ll carry out after the shared services project is over.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: How many end users do you have using Jedox right now?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: Right now we have 25 users. We are going to increase that going forward. Once shared services comes into play and our planning/budgeting/forecasting piece comes in, there will be an increase in the number of users.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: With a solution so geared towards end users, IT can sometimes feel like we’re encroaching on their territory. Did you have any such problems?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: Jedox has two owners. There’s me, in Process Excellence, where we look at Jedox as an enablement, as something which brings information and enables decisions. The other owner is the CIO, where he looks at BI as a system which aggregates and enables information across all systems. So there’s no conflict.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: If you could summarize the benefits of Jedox in one sentence, what would it be?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: One version of truth.
Sam Perrin, Jedox: Was there anything that Dastech or Jedox could have improved along the way?
Parthasarathy Sivaraman, VASCO: Frankly, no. It’s quite commendable, that Jedox and Dastech understood the business so quickly. Even though they were new to the industry, it didn’t take them much time to understand the nuances involved. I don’t think Jedox or DasTech could have done anything differently. Everything that was done, was being done for the first time. The teams involved picked up the whole implementation very quickly.