Q&A With Greg Swimer, VP IT, Business Intelligence, Unilever

In advance of next week’s Forrester’s European Business Technology Forums in London on June 10 and 11, we had an opportunity to speak with Greg Swimer about information management and how Unilever delivers real-time data to its employeesGreg Swimer is a global IT leader at Unilever, responsible for delivering new information management, business intelligence, reporting, consolidation, analytics, and master data solutions to more than 20,000 users across all of Unilever’s businesses globally.
 

1) What are the two forces you and the Unilever team are balancing with your “Data At Your Fingertips” vision?

Putting the data at Unilever’s fingertips means working on two complementary aspects of information management. One aspect is to build an analytics powerhouse with the capacity to handle big data, providing users with the technological power to analyse that data in order to gain greater insight and drive better decision-making. The other aspect is the importance of simplifying and standardizing that data so that it’s accessible enough to understand and act upon. We want to create a simplified landscape, one that allows better decisions, in real time, where there is a common language and a great experience for users.

 

2) What keys to success have you uncovered in your efforts?

As with any project or program, large or small, the people and teams that work to make this happen are key to success. This is a demanding and exciting area, with fast-moving technology and a need for real expertise on both the business and technical sides, so people and partners are critical. Having a coherent long-term vision while being able to move in quick cycles or releases is also a highly important factor. And I will talk about these and other challenges and lessons learned in the session on June 10.

3) What’s next? How do you know when you’re successful?

Striving for better information is a journey in itself rather than a specific destination. Needs will continue to evolve, but at the same time, technology will allow us to continue to develop better ways to process data and drive insights; this continuous evolution and development has the potential to enhance our relationships with consumers and customers all over the world.

The frontiers of insight and simplification are expanding all the time. So what we look for is measurable success for each phase of the journey — markers that can help us quickly understand what works and what doesn’t and which allow us to react quickly. And of course, we also place a strong emphasis on feedback from our users — because in the end, creating solutions for them is at the heart of what we do.

Greg’s keynote will take place on June 10 across the five co-located Forrester Forums for CIOs, Enterprise Architects, Security & Risk, Infrastructure & Operations, and Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals taking place at The Lancaster. There’s still time to register!