Excel Enthusiast to Supply Chain Innovator – The Journey to Building One of the Largest Analytic Platforms

Interview with Luciano Miranda, Vice President of Analytics, and Insights for Global Operations and Supply Chain for Medtronic.

Luciano Miranda's passion for Excel is undeniable. He fondly recalls attending Microsoft conferences and meeting one of the creators of Excel — a moment so surreal that he couldn't resist taking a selfie. This encounter was a defining moment for him, highlighting the significant role Excel has played in shaping his career.

Miranda currently holds the position of Vice President, Advanced Analytics - Global Operations & Supply Chain at Medtronic, a global medical technology company dedicated to improving the lives of people through innovative medical solutions. In his current role, he oversees a global central analytics and insights team that serves Medtronic's worldwide operations and supply chain.

His globally dispersed team plays a crucial role in guiding important decisions across Medtronic's vast supply chain by utilizing data, offering insights that support more than 90,000 Medtronic employees.

Miranda recently spoke with Ben Blanquera, Vice President with Rackspace Technology and CDO Magazine Global Editorial Board Member about how his affinity for Excel was the catalyst for designing dashboards and how embedded AI capabilities help identify trends, increase efficiency, and make more informed decisions across the supply chain.

Playbook takeaways: 

  1. Success is rooted in happiness and well being: Emphasizing happiness and well being is fundamental to team culture, especially in environments teeming with creative individuals, underscoring the link between success and holistic fulfillment.

  2. Central role of problem-solving: As an "engineer to order" organization, problem-solving is not just a task but a central aspect of work, driving the ability to engineer solutions that meet the unique challenges within ecosystems.

  3. Evolution of roles to better serve needs: Over time, roles within the organization have transformed, consolidating analytics groups to align more closely with the company's evolving needs and priorities, reflecting a commitment to adaptability and responsiveness.

  4. Embracing AI with responsibility: While embracing AI to boost efficiencies and decision-making, the organization prioritizes responsible adoption, aligning AI technologies with ethical principles and values to uphold integrity and trust.

Self-service analytics: The transformative supply chain journey

In 2021, Miranda recalls how Medtronic recognized the potential for enhanced collaboration among its various analytics groups, particularly within the supply chain domain. The proliferation of self-service analytics, while empowering, also led to disparate data sources and inconsistencies in insights.

“I always say that the best thing about self-service analytics is anyone can build an analytic. The worst thing about self-service analytics is anyone can build an analytic. You end up getting multiple sources of truth,” Miranda says.

To address this challenge, Medtronic consolidated its analytics efforts under the supply chain umbrella, encompassing demand planning, supply planning, inventory management, transportation, distribution, and trade-offs.

"It was a strategic decision," Miranda explains. "Bringing together diverse analytics talents not only addressed the issue of disparate insights but also emphasized the importance of talent alignment in driving meaningful change."

The success of this initiative prompted expansion in 2022 to include global operations and supply chain management. This broader scope now incorporates global supply management, supplier management, enterprise system facilities, supply chain finance, strategic support groups, IDP initiatives, and quality assurance. Additionally, Medtronic's extensive manufacturing network of more than sixty facilities worldwide is integrated into the analytical framework.

Miranda says this consolidation has yielded significant value by providing a holistic view of operations, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and uncovering synergies across different functional areas. By transcending vertical analytics and focusing on end-to-end visibility, Medtronic has enhanced its decision-making capabilities and optimized its operational efficiency.

With a broad reach spanning over 50,000 customers globally, Medtronic's unified analytics approach continues to deliver substantial benefits to the organization and its stakeholders.

Building data teams with a unified approach  

Miranda's career trajectory has been characterized by roles that align with the value he brings to the table, fostering a holistic understanding of the organization. Rather than conforming to predefined roles, he has actively shaped positions to suit his strengths and contributions. Miranda credits much of his success to the vision and passion of Vice President of Supply Chain Flavio DeSimone and the leadership of Medtronic's Executive Vice President Global Operations and Supply Chain, Greg Smith.

Smith's emphasis on fostering a one best way approach has played a pivotal role in driving success within the company, influencing and guiding initiatives across various departments, including Miranda's own.

“While some initiatives can start from the bottom up, reaching the scale and breadth we've achieved requires top-down support as well,” says Miranda. 

Bringing people together with the right mindset has been crucial. Under Miranda’s leadership, he strategically organized his teams to avoid the pitfalls of a slow and disconnected centralized structure. Instead, he fostered collaboration and synergy among team members, even revolutionizing the approach to building analytics.

The transformation is evident when comparing Medtronic’s current methods to those of just a year ago. By harnessing the collective talent and expertise of the organization, Miranda says that the transformation of its analytics capabilities from scattered efforts to a harmonized ensemble has been remarkable. “It's a testament to the transformative power of collective effort, where individual talents coalesce into something truly extraordinary.”

Unlocking value with Generative AI

While ChatGPT has helped raise awareness about AI capabilities, explaining how to integrate AI has presented challenges, especially when managing over 200 different data analytic reports. To address the different uses, Miranda has simplified AI into three categories: rule-based AI, learning AI (machine learning), and generative AI. 

Generative AI has emerged as the most dynamic tool among the three for executing and recording data analytics. Its versatility and adaptability make it particularly effective in capturing and processing diverse data sets, contributing to more comprehensive analytics outcomes. 

Miranda says, “People in analytics might not jump out of bed excited to tackle documentation, but it's a critical aspect of our work. Without proper documentation, we risk becoming a single point of failure, which is something we want to avoid.”

Further, Miranda highlights the transformative impact of generative tools like Copilot and Microsoft Teams on simplifying documentation tasks. One standout example he cites is the adoption of Medtronic GPT, a game-changing tool that enables users to leverage the MS Team transcripts of recorded explanations of analytics and technical details.

These recordings are then converted into transcripts and securely stored in a containerized environment, streamlining the documentation process while ensuring data security. Because of process automation, Miranda says that the organization generated 240,000 work hours last year, and they anticipate even more this year. 

Miranda highlighted a number of additional applications of generative AI beyond transcripts that are currently being employed by Medtronic:

  • Anomaly Detection: KPI dashboards can be useful, but sometimes they don't delve deep enough. That's where anomaly detection comes in as another AI tool. “We use it to ensure data quality and detect any issues before they affect our analytics. Our data engineering team developed ‘DatMan,’ a bot that sifts through thousands of data quality checks to catch anomalies. We prioritize accurate data over timely updates, even if it means delaying analytics to avoid errors. If it flags an issue, we halt the refresh process and have a human double-check before proceeding.”

  • KPI Dashboard Alerts: Initially, Medtronic’s global ecosystem had around 5,000 views per month and a couple of hundred active users. Now, the company boasts over 4,400 active users and around 230,000 views. With the expansion, finding insights has become a challenge. But with AI, they’re developing personalized briefings tailored to users' needs, going beyond traditional KPI dashboards to deliver more detailed and relevant information 

  • Perosnalized Briefings: Miranda's team are currently working on leveraging AI to craft personalized reports tailored to individual preferences, akin to having a personal assistant sift through data for vital insights, enabling accelerated and informed decision-making.

Miranda says, “Our philosophy is straightforward yet potent: prioritize simplicity, automation, and data integrity. By leveraging AI, we are empowering the business to revolutionize operations and shape the future.”

Conclusion 

“As you consider analytics, it's crucial to pivot from solely concentrating on the product to putting the end user's needs first,” Miranda concludes. “This shift has been fundamental to our achievements, even when our systems weren't perfect. Beginning with the end goal in mind keeps us focused on driving business outcomes and positively influencing our patients and the world. It's not about chasing the newest technology or the most dazzling analytics; it's about delivering real value and effecting meaningful change.”

About Ben Blanquera

Ben Blanquera is a Vice President with Rackspace Technology. Rackspace is a global leading multicloud services provider with specialties in Data/AI, Application Development, Security and Cloud Platform. Blanquera is passionate about creating amazing business outcomes by leveraging data and analytics. He is on the CDO magazine editorial board and is interviewing global CDOs to gain their insights to create a “playbook” for the industry.

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