Monday, February 23. 2009
Do you live in Ex-Hell (Excel)? by ... Posted by Barb Matthews in OBI EE at 08:37
Here's some more perspective from Ferenc Mantfeld, of SeeMoreData. Ferenc will be visiting from Australia and teaching Advanced SQL Programming from March 2-5 in our Salt Lake City training center. Ferenc is very knowledgeable about BI and SQL!
Many of today’s organizations have evolved into one or more uncontrolled “spreadmarts” (spreadsheet based data marts) with some very serious consequences.
Let’s face it, everyone in business uses Excel to some degree. However, when we make important decisions based on these numbers, never forget this about spreadsheets:
• Manual data entry can lead to deliberate or inadvertent manipulation, thus losing “truth”
• Spreadsheets are desktop and individual-centric
• Creating spreadsheets consume time
• Spreadsheets have no auditing controls (SOX / Basel II compliance implications)
• Formulas are derived by the spreadsheet author, leading to possible inaccuracies
• Spreadsheets do not provide an easy ability to drill through to the underlying data
• Spreadsheets offer no ability to secure the data (stolen laptop means stolen data in Excel), which has many implications besides industrial espionage, including privacy law compliance
• Spreadsheets offer no ability to easily schedule refreshes or to take action (send Web Services call to SOAP server) based on triggering business conditions
So with all this, why then do we still rely today on spreadsheet information to made important decisions?
Excel is the ideal prototype environment, it is a familiar interface, it has some “advanced” visualization, and it has the ability for us to massage data - and we don’t need to purchase a license to log into a proper robust BI tool.
To someone who needs to get information one-time only, Excel might be the perfect answer to solve a temporary summary data question. However, if this is to be a repeatable process, or if it is to provide meaningful data that is to be shared, this is a worst-case scenario, as it creates more work and data management responsibility.
It is recommended that if you do have a “spreadmart” running in your organization, that you look towards a central, secure, accurate and consistent method for managing insight into this information, such as that provided by SeeMoreData.
Monday, February 23. 2009
A Dashboard Will Magically Solve All ... Posted by Barb Matthews in OBI EE at 08:27
Ferenc Mantfeld, from See More Data, will be teaching Advanced SQL Programming from March 2-5 in our Salt Lake City training center. Ferenc is very knowledgeable about BI and SQL!
Dashboards as a business phrase have really only been around since the turn of the century, brought about by the visual impact of the dials and gauges in a car or aircraft, giving the viewer a real-time informative view of everything important to run the vehicle. But the concept of having executive level summary information from the various facets of the business is nothing new.
Dashboards are only as good as the depth, breadth and quality of the data behind the information.
Dashboards should present their information in an agreed-upon format and ideally should allow their target audience the ability to drilldown into the next level/s of detail to verify the summary information behind it.
If you build it, will they come? That depends on whether or not they (your target consumers of the dashboard/s) were consulted in the first place as to what they wanted and how they wanted to see and interact with it.
So before you rush out to build a dashboard, spend a little time investigating (talking to people) what, and more importantly, why, it should be built, and this time investment will yield tremendous increases in customer (user) satisfaction.
Friday, February 20. 2009
The Value of Embedded BI: Who Gives ... Posted by Barb Matthews in OBI EE at 13:01
Don't miss the chance to learn from Ferenc Mantfeld, from See More Data, who will be teaching Advanced SQL Programming from March 2-5 in our Salt Lake City training center. Ferenc is very knowledgeable about BI and SQL!
The promise of BI in today's business world sounds exciting, fascinating and shows potential rapid ROI, yet uptake is slow because most organizations do not want yet another application for their end users to log into, yet another application where the data does not match their existing applications' data, and where IT resources are going to be employed to hunt down the discrepancies between systems. So how does BI provide an immediate and tangible return?
In the usual world, where companies have many applications, users often log into their online transactional systems (CRM, ERP, etc.) and then simultaneously open the reporting / BI application. For illustration purposes, let us describe getting a full customer profile report that we are looking at in a CRM / ERP system, where the CRM / ERP system contains the bare essentials. The report might contain the customer's details, purchase activity, top products, activities and interactions with the company, demographic information, and perhaps some predictive information as to which of our products might interest them based on various factors. When the user wants to find full information on a customer from the reporting system, the user normally highlights the customer number (1 click), copies the customer number (another click or Ctrl-C), then switches to the BI Application (alt-tab, another click), opens the relevant report (another click or series of clicks), then pastes (another click or Ctrl-V) the copied customer id into the report parameter, then clicks the 'Go' button (another click). If the report result is then to be saved to a local drive and attached to the CRM / ERP system as an attachment, a whole lot more clicking is going to happen.
The problem with the above scenario is that it is very:
- and the possibility for human error (did not copy the entire customer number, accidentally hit another key while pasting, etc.) increases considerably.
What would save a lot of time, frustration and errors is to have a button from the CRM / ERP system that will do all of that activity for the end user behind the scenes, at machine speeds, and show the information as part of an integrated panel in the single application.
The large software application vendors now have readily available embedded BI solutions (Siebel Analytics, SAP BW, Oracle EBS Analytics, etc.), however these are usually tailored to suit the vendor application and are unsuitable for integration into other applications. Furthermore, should you have made any customizations to the ERP / CRM software, those customizations will have
to be applied to the BI solution too (usually at great cost). The vendors' usual approach, then, is that any other software package that wants to utilize the BI platform should conform to the vendor approach to BI, including warehousing and BI process.
At SeeMoreData, we believe that the ability of BI to enhance the value of an existing application by creating usable analytics and information visualization on the underlying and indirectly related data, whether in real-time or not, will drive the adoption of analytical solutions. This is certainly the case at one of our large banking customers, who have transformed their CRM solution to deliver relevant content that would have taken an eternity (if at all possible) to create using the traditional CRM configuration tool.
What do we mean by this?
Well, instead of getting the users to have 1 more desktop icon, 1 more system to log into, 1 more system to learn to use, we prefer to see our BI engine as a back-end solution that is called by the existing application (Siebel, SAP, IVR Applications, Web apps or whatever) and when the information is served up by SeeMoreData, this is then presented to the user inside their existing application, making it look like it is part of the original calling application. All it requires is a simple call to an internal web server (behind the firewall so data is only visible to whom it should be) with some dynamic components that complete the call, or via a true Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), which then neatly maps into SeeMoreData's passive calling map technology.
SeeMoreData is flexible enough to send the information requested back to the calling application either as a rich-client fully-interactive applet, or an XML document, or a static file format (Excel, PDF, word, HTML, CSV) to be displayed in the calling application information window / region. In the case of the fully-interactive client, drilldown and drillthrough is possible, even to external systems, using the drilldown key as a lookup / foreign key.
SeeMoreData's open application integration technology saves many clicks and reduces errors and delivers accurate information where it is needed, and very fast! It is what our customers have come to expect from us.
The SeeMoreData reporting system was chosen because it was the most cost-effective solution that provided our bankers and their support teams with critical pipeline interactive reports with the ability to filter, slice, dice, chart, annotate... ..... answering their many questions on the capability of the CRM system and reports and providing support for them to optimize their utilization of a tool that is vital to the high level of service provided to their important clients using an online information analysis tool that is integrated into Siebel..... Senior Business Analyst from a Leading Australian "big 4" bank.
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This is extremely helpful!