Satalyst Brilliance on 23 Dec 2014

Discovering the Business value in Business Intelligence

In my previous life as a provider of Analytics, Reporting and Data management I experienced first-hand the sudden surge in demand for historical, current and predictive views of business operations. I also experienced some the challenges individual teams and whole companies faced as a result of rapid business growth and through lack of co-ordination across teams. Like many companies, my previous employer lacked a strategic, cohesive approach across business units for the planning and application of Data Management, Analytics and Reporting.

Some of the challenges we faced as a result included duplication or the unintentional differing application of ETL processes. For the team, this meant database refresh times were taking longer than necessary to complete. The refresh occurred every 2days, involved two ETL processes and required hundreds of transformations – typically taking up to 12 hours to complete in total without any time accounted for error handling. This meant we were only able to start querying the database mid-morning the following day and left us unable to run any scripts overnight whilst the refresh was happening. Different ETL processes also resulted in slightly different resultsets, although not a regular problem, altogether this directly impacted our ability to leverage BI in core business processes to maximise business value and did little to instill confidence in stakeholders.

The pressure to provide consistent, trustworthy, real-time information was always intensifying. It’s a huge understatement to say therefore, that  on “go live” with our newly integrated single BI solution the thought “why didn’t we do this sooner?” frequently crossed our minds.

The outcome was a custom built solution, taking standalone source systems and developing a single point for ETL processes to run (and complete in record time), this updated a custom built data warehouse and data marts to satisfy the individual needs of different business areas. Aside from benefits gained in the backend – benefits gained by front end users and stakeholders also raised a few eyebrows. Self-service standardised reporting, trigger based functionality, the ability to drill, dynamically slice and pivot data for exploration, predictive analytics, flexible distribution mechanisms, simple wizard options and a user friendly interface made the teams jobs easier and made a huge difference to the operation of the business.

Simply put – the move to a single BI platform enabled the team to not only keep up with the rapid growth of the business but to support, advise and lead discussions regarding predictive, financial and marketing performance. The move provided the wider organisation with the ability to eliminate unnecessary steps, make full use of resources and operate in a more collaborative and efficient way. An undeniably good move!!