3M Moves to a Customer Focus Using a Global Data Warehouse
Dale Goodhue, University of Georgia
Barbara Wixom, University of Virginia
In 1995, 3M Chairman and CEO L. D. DeSimone along with his top management team
recognized that the focus of 3M had to change. For nearly 100 years, 3M manufactured
products to make life easier, safer, healthier, and more productive for people in nearly
200 countries. In the excitement of creating innovative products, however, 3M was
ignoring its customer relationships.
Until that point, 3M was organized into 50 autonomous, product-centric divisions, each
with its own IT group, its own strategy, products, and markets. Innovation was the
driving force of 3M's decentralized organization, and each division focused on selling its
own unique suite of products, which resulted in 15.7 billion in sales in U.S. and abroad in
Unfortunately this approach confused customers who often had to interact with a host of
3M divisions to meet a wide range of needs. Under DeSimone's leadership, 3M was
restructured into seven market segments: Industrial, Transportation, Health Care,
Graphics and Safety, Consumer and Office, Electro and Communications, and Specialty
Material. Each segment was charged with serving customers better and efficiently
meeting their needs.
Changing a large Fortune 100
company like 3M is not easy. It requires shifts in
mindsets, work processes, and the information that is needed to run the business. To
address the latter need, 3M began a significant initiative to create a data warehouse called
Global Enterprise Date Warehouse (GEDW). Before the GEDW, aggregate information
was available only on division or country specific monthly reports at a fairly high level of
aggregation. With GEDW, thousands of 3M employees now have real-time access to
accurate, global, detailed information about sales, orders, customers, and products down
to the SKU level of detail. The GEDW also underlies new web-based customer services
that are dynamically generated based on warehouse information.
GEDW has created a number of benefits for 3M, the most important being the capability
to understand 3M's customer relationships by providing a customer-centric view of the
business. The data warehouse has enabled 3M personnel and processes to become more
customer-focused, and it serves as the foundation for Customer Relationship
Management (CRM) initiatives throughout the organization.
This case study describes 3M and the business and systems drivers for the global data
warehouse. Next, the development of GEDW and its architecture are described. The case
Fortune ranked 3M 110
in the 2000 Fortune 500 ranking.