Slice and Dice Large Volumes of Information to Analyze Trends

By Judy Bruner, EVP Administration & CFO, SanDisk Corporation

Judy Bruner, EVP Administration & CFO, SanDisk Corporation

At SanDisk, we are leveraging technology to improve productivity and decision making, not only within the Finance organization, but across the corporation. As EVP Administration & CFO, our CIO reports to me, and we collaborate closely to promote new technology initiatives. Some of the recent technology initiatives that are providing significant payback include:

1. Solid State Drives in employee laptops: During 2013, we deployed solid state drives (SSDs) in over 4,600 employee notebooks worldwide. This is a simple upgrade that improves employee productivity while also lowering IT costs. Let me provide a little more background:

a. Employee Productivity: The SSDs have increased employee productivity by providing much faster boot times and nearly instant access to applications. Our employees have gained on average 15 minutes of productive time per day. Think about the value of this across a global corporation. In addition, the improved battery life is a significant productivity benefit for mobile employees while traveling.

b. Lower IT costs: The upgrade to SSDs has lowered IT costs in two ways:

i. By boosting performance of the laptop, the SSD upgrade has extended the useful life of our laptops by approximately one year, allowing a deferral in IT spending for new laptops.

ii. We have also seen a decline in our hardware related IT Help Desk tickets due to the higher reliability of SSDs in comparison to mechanical hard drives. The result has been a reduction in the growth of our IT maintenance expenses, allowing us to spend that money in other areas such as automation and business intelligence.

2. Solid State Drives in the data center: SanDisk IT has leveraged the performance advantages of SSD based storage arrays to significantly improve performance and eliminate bottlenecks for enterprise applications. We implemented an industry leading eDiscovery solution to effectively manage our emails in 2013. While the tool that we implemented provided great value to the legal department and helped reduce IT costs, we encountered a performance bottleneck when using a traditional HDD based high-end storage array. The indexing of millions of emails was taking many months on a high-end HDD based storage array. The IT team moved the indexing to an SSD based Storage Array which reduced the indexing time from many months to a few days.

3. Business Intelligence& Dashboards: Another key investment area for us over the past several years has been to expand our business intelligence (BI) databases and associated dashboards. The amount of data that we are capturing in our BI databases has grown tremendously, allowing rapid access to critical information for a wide range of business decisions, and allowing the creation of valuable dashboards that enable organizations across the company to keep a pulse on the daily information that they need to run the business.

Our BI investment has significantly improved the productivity of our finance analysts, allowing them to quickly slice and dice large volumes of information to analyze trends, create sophisticated reports and provide better information for critical decision making.

And this year we are investing in transitioning our financial planning system from a traditional ‘row’ based BI platform to an ‘in-memory’ columnar data warehouse. This promises significant improvement in system performance, allowing financial planners to perform real-time ‘What-if’ analysis on large data volumes.

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