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Essity — A Data Transformation Across Borders

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In Search of a Holistic View of Its Global Business

Most B2B sales, marketing, and data leaders would agree that their data is critical, but working with data and extracting value from it are not always straightforward. Organizations are fighting to keep up with data while simultaneously trying  to manage all the disruptions that are caused by it.

The rapid rate of change in data is overwhelming and constant. In fact, Dun & Bradstreet estimates that in every 60 minutes, 193 business addresses will change, 312 CEO changes will occur, 90 companies will change their name and 12 businesses will for bankruptcy. And that is just a fraction of the amount of change that it will occur in business data in the next hour.

Needless to say, the one constant when it comes to data is change.

Companies are trying to grow while they both embrace, and are challenged by, all the complexities that come along with data, hence the importance of having a single source of truth so organization can have a trusted foundation from which to make decisions and take action. Regardless of where one sits in an organization – finance, procurement, compliance, or marketing – trustworthy data can benefit and transform how you go to market and how your customers view you and engage with you in the future.

Missed Opportunity: Using the CRM to Aid Decision Making

In 2018, Essity’s Professional Hygiene (EPH) business unit transitioned from being managed regionally in North America and Europe into a combined transatlantic business unit. Shortly thereafter, the Middle East, India and Africa regional business was incorporated into the business unit. The result meant that business data would need to be integrated and managed centrally instead of being managed at the regional level.

Meanwhile, Essity's global customers were also asking for a more holistic view of their business with Tork, EPH’s leading brand. In order to meet that customer requirement, EPH needed a better way to combine and relate data from multiple systems and business processes – and even across languages.

The first step was to deploy a single CRM system for the business, but even with a single system in place, there was still this nagging question from executives and our management teams. “Why aren’t we using data from CRM in executive decision making?”

“Operationally, our CRM was a key tool for sales, but it had developed into a tactical tool without a lot of strategic value,” said Neil Honaker, data quality and data privacy manager for Essity Professional Hygiene. Neil is responsible for the overall data, hygiene governance, business processes, and data privacy compliance for Essity's Professional Hygiene business unit.

“We had to address the nagging question of why we weren’t using all of the data that we were collecting. The dream of a single unified system to drive increased strategic value was still just a vision. The truth was that our data was working against us. We were challenged by inaccurate or incomplete data, data that was outdated, and a proliferation of duplicate records in our system. All of this led to a lack of trust in any strategic analysis we tried to produce If we were ever to achieve the data-driven decision-making we were seeking, we needed to build trust back into our data and the systems that used it,” remarked Neil. 

The truth was that our data was working against us. We were challenged by inaccurate or incomplete data, data that was outdated, and a proliferation of duplicate records in our system.
Neil Honaker, Data Quality and Data Privacy Manager, Essity Professional Hygiene

After all of the time, money and resources already spent to combine what was previously three businesses into a single organization, trying to get buy-in for an additional project was difficult. “Ultimately, the value proposition we created connected Essity’s digital transformation journey, which was ongoing in parallel, with the beginning of our analytics journey. We found ourselves on the verge of deploying a data lake, but we still lacked confidence in our data quality and governance. We were at risk of seeing our data lake birth as a data swamp.”


Read about Essity Professional Hygiene’s data journey and the best practices its team uncovered along the way.


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ABOUT ESSITY AND TORK Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the leading global brands TENA, TORK, and others. Essity has approximately 46,000 employees globally, conducts sales in 150 countries, and had net sales in 2021 of approximately $13 billion. The company is headquartered in Stockholm.