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Jeffrey Goldman M.Eng. '98 Describes Expanding Role for Analytics at Procter & Gamble

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fortune top 50 company Procter & Gamble (P&G) has long used operations research methods to improve its business, and is one of the companies that Professor Thomas Davenport highlights in his work, "Competing on Analytics."  

Cornell is well-represented in P&G analytics, notably by Jeffrey Goldman M.Eng. '98, who is now a strategic advisor to P&G's Vice Chair of Global Operations. Goldman spoke at a recent Enterprise Engineering Colloquium about Transforming P&G Through Business Intelligence and Analytics. 

According to Goldman, the use of analytics and business intelligence at P&G will continue to play an important role in the future. CEO Bob McDonald is a West Point graduate with a background in operations research. He understands the power of analytics and has integrated the use of this capability in his Monday morning leadership meetings, Goldman said.

Goldman, who completed a BA in economics at Cornell before joining the M.Eng. program, described his own career at P&G thus far, including his use of optimization and Monte Carlo simulation in a facility location problem in Asia. Since graduating he has been stationed in Singapore, Switzerland and China.  Now he is at P&G headquarters in Cincinnati, where he has been involved in the development and use of the "industry-changing" Business Sphere

The Business Sphere is a visualization system displaying digital business intelligence at more than 40 interconnected P&G sites around the world.  It incorporates more than 30 technologies from both small and large vendors, according to Goldman. (The system is also described in an Information Week profile).

"Moneyball is the perfect movie about what I do," Goldman said.  "We are to consumer products what Billy Beane is to baseball."  A Forbes article titled "The Matrix of Soap" called Goldman "the statistician who sits in at the weekly Business Sphere gathering." 

Before the Business Sphere, managers would spend "50 minutes figuring out who had the right numbers, and 10 minutes deciding what to do with it," Goldman said.  Now P&G general managers, sitting in their own locations with their own business analysts, are all looking at the same numbers and able to make better, faster decisions.

While "in many industries, analysts don't even have a seat at the table" according to a New York Times article on the business impact of the Moneyball book and film, at P&G "a skilled business analyst helps P&G manage by exception," Goldman noted. 

At P&G, "for most of what has been done so far, advanced analytics education was not essential - but it will be required in the future," Goldman said.  He showed a graph illustrating increases in competitive advantage as business intelligence moves from standard reports to optimization and simulation. 

Goldman acknowledged that not every analysis will create business transformation, but said he believes that analytics will continue to play an increasing role in the way companies make decisions.   

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