UBCsoft products overview
As we defined earlier, our
mission is “To provide best-of-breed Corporate Performance Management,
Business Intelligence and Enterprise Reporting software and services that
shorten the time to insight, allowing our clients to improve their
decision-making and enterprise performance.” This all has to be done cost
effectively. How do you maximize your BI ROI? Let’s examine how.
Maximizing Business Intelligence ROI
Your organization has decided to invest in ways
to improve the performance of the business. In Corporate Performance
Management (CPM) terms, driving business performance means providing your
information consumers with more efficient access to the critical information
they need to make the business decisions that align them with enterprise
goals. These goals are designed to:
Improve revenue, customer service, and competitive position;
Reduce costs and cycle times;
Improve operational efficiency
objective is to offer you guidance as you endeavor to transform your corporate
data into useful business information, readily available to the information
consumers within your organization. The focus is to help you maximize the
Return-On- Investment (ROI) by minimizing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
through best-practice implementation of your BI solution.
Business Intelligence…Why Do I Need It?
Intelligence (BI) is not a product that you can buy off the shelf. Business
Intelligence is a goal that is achieved when the different information
consumers within your organization are able to leverage the vast amounts of
data that your company creates, to improve business performance.
are looking to up-sell and/or cross-sell your existing customer base, develop
budgets and consolidate forecasts, identify best practices across your Sales
organization, monitor Marketing campaign effectiveness, or track Call Center
key performance indicators (KPI’s), you will find the need for a comprehensive
I Get BI?
that enjoy the benefits that BI promises recognize that they need more than a
product to achieve their goal. They realize that success is still going to
depend on how well they:
Implement The Information Value Chain
Manage The 3 P’s – People, Products, and Processes
Intelligence is not a product that you can buy off the shelf. Business
Intelligence is a goal…”
Information Value Chain
Like a supply
chain, raw data that is available in your organization must be transformed
into information in order for it to be useful to your knowledge workers. The
information must then be made available in a user-friendly context, like a
report or an application, and delivered to the consumers by an efficient
The more efficiently you implement the information value chain, the better the
chances of maximizing your ROI !
Figure 1: The Information Value Chain
As you run
your business, your operational systems (ERP, CRM, GL/AP/AR, etc.) generate
and capture detailed data…the raw material necessary for BI solutions.
However, since these operational systems are capturing transactional
information for the specific purpose that they were created, they are not
aware that another system may be capturing different data about the same
entity. For instance, your order entry system has captured a transaction where
Mr. Smith from Acme Company has ordered 5 widgets, however, your CRM system is
dealing with 2 outstanding customer service calls from the same Mr. Smith from
Acme Company. While ERP systems integrate business processes, they do not do a
good job of empowering and enabling enterprises with enough data for Business
Data from many
disparate data sources, including operational systems, spreadsheets, user
databases, and 3rd
party databases, needs to be consolidated and aggregated into a unified
database to achieve the single version of the truth. This process, known as
Extract-Transform-Load (ETL), is a major step towards the BI goal. The
added-value that this step provides is:
A more complete view of an entity, like a customer;
More efficient query performance;
Relationships between entities are defined, ensuring correct results.
After data is
consolidated into a unified source (through ETL and a database), further value
is added to the usability of it by creating an intuitive environment where
end-users can access the data. There are many different types of front-end
access tools that range from rudimentary data access capabilities to more
complex data-mining. These tools fall into categories, such as:
Query and Reporting
have traditionally fallen short of the BI goal because they do not offer
enough insight into the data itself, requiring the end-user to do more manual
data analysis before identifying any actionable information. Additionally,
they tend to be ‘one-way streets’, whereby the user can read the data, but has
no ability to update it or modify it.
manipulation with today’s tools is relatively easy, it still consumes precious
time better spent on primary job responsibilities. Therefore, these tools
still find themselves in the hands of the power user, whose primarily role is
to crunch and mine data for useful information nuggets that they can share
with their end users.
The key to
more ROI and lower TCO is empowering end users to consume the information more
effectively through specifically-purposed business intelligence applications.
These are applications that combine the features of Query, Reporting, OLAP,
Data Visualization, and Statistical Analysis (as mentioned above) into a
user-friendly interface designed with a specific business purpose in mind,
such as a Forecasting & Budgeting application that facilitates consolidation,
or a dashboard application that tracks key metrics that align corporate and
Applications provide the user an interface that presents more insightful
information and a simple workflow that guides them through the process, to
enable faster and easier adoption without the need for specific training.
Additionally, applications that enable users to modify the data with
write-back capabilities, enables the real-time enterprise.
“The more efficiently you implement the information value chain, the better
the chances of maximizing your ROI!…”
P’s For BI Success
As you have
seen thus far, solutions that enable business intelligence capabilities
involve a lot more than simply purchasing and implementing technology. Once
you have identified an area where a
will fit; you need to align the 3 P’s - People, Products, and Processes.
effectively you manage the 3 P’s, the better the chances to maximize your ROI!
involved in the BI solution are the first critical leg of the BI success
“triangle”. The end-users will have knowledge of the business issues and the
type of solution that they need. The power users will know the data, including
where to find it, how to manipulate it, and who needs it. Additional people
may involve consultants or technologists who are architecting and building out
the technical framework that will automate pieces of the Information Value
involved in the BI solution are the second critical leg of the BI Success
triangle. After identifying the data sources, you will engage in product
selections for the technology that drives the framework for the Information
Value Chain. Critical product-related pieces include an ETL function, a
database platform, and front-end data access technologies to support your BI
involved in the BI solution are the third critical leg of the BI success
triangle. You will be identifying the processes in use today, and how they
will change when the new BI solution is in place. Examples of processes that
are usually reviewed include:
Business-oriented processes, such as: how up-sell/cross-sell campaigns are
done today. What business units are involved? How do they identify target
Data-oriented processes, such as: what are the transformation rules? How often
will we update the new database? When do we want end-users to modify data? How
will data be made available to the end-users?
In addition to
the above processes, a cross-functional project team will be organized to
handle the development of the components that make up the Information Value
Chain. The development team will have a different set of processes, based on
their favorite System Lifecycle Methodology. This is a methodology used by
application developers to bring a system to market. It would involve phases
such as Scope, Design, Build,
Test, and Deploy.
Recommendations For Managing the 3 P’s
When it comes
to managing the first leg of the triangle – People - the old adage,
“Too many cooks spoil the soup” comes to mind. A small team of no more than 4
or 5 people should be sufficient to meet the system objectives, and is nimble
enough to get the job done quickly. The team should consist of:
Business User Representative(s) – 1 or 2
User Representatives will be the main visionaries for the BI solution. The
Power User will be the primary developer of the solution. The Technical
Architect will know how to deploy software solutions within the enterprise
framework. An Expert Consultant, familiar with your selected BI technology,
will help you overcome any initial learning curve and provide best-practice
ideas, helping you get the solution implemented on time and under budget.
When it comes
to managing the second leg of the triangle – Products – less is better.
BI technology providers are strongly pushing the concept of BI tool
standardization for the enterprise. What they most often mean by this is to
select their technology as a de facto standard, such that all BI solution
development will be implemented using their tools. This is the desire of all
the traditional ETL, database, and front-end access tool vendors, as it
promotes vendor lock-in. While a de facto standard is a paper standard, vendor
lock-in will ensure that they can extract maximum license fees from you, while
you have built yourself into a long-term commitment to their technology,
making it difficult for you to switch.
“The more effectively you manage the 3 P’s, the better the chances to maximize
Traditional BI per user/CPU pricing scales exponentially. Especially when
applied to additional ETL and Database components, as well as the “modular”
sale of front-end BI application components.
they would like you to standardize on their integrated tool suites. A tool
suite is really a collection of interoperable data access tools that can be
configured to work together. However, do not be fooled – tool suites are often
licensed individually by component, by either a Named User License (NUL) or a
CPU-based license model. They are also only tools, whose shortcomings were
interoperable components - ETL, database, and front-end tool suites - from
different vendors is often termed the ‘Best of Breed’ approach. This approach,
combined with the license model employed by the individual vendor, will scale
your license fees exponentially as you deploy to more users, making it more
difficult to measure ROI.
reasonable approach is to find a single vendor that offers a toolkit that
includes these core components, with the ability to build and deploy
applications with no additional license fees, thereby getting a fix around
your costs, a necessity for measuring ROI.
When it comes
to managing the third leg of the triangle
rapid, iterative prototyping
is the key. Traditionally, the build-out of the Information Value Chain tends
to work from left to right, i.e. first the ETL work is done, then the database
work is done, and lastly, the end-user environment is put together.
traditional method, there is a significant time gap from the inception of the
project until an application is actually made available for the end-users.
Often, so much time has passed that the business need has changed, or the
development team has hit a deadline and is scrambling to get the data access
solution in the hands of the users. The end result, after much time has gone
by and much money has been spent, is that the end-user environment is not what
was promised, and fails to meet the expectations of the business users. In
fact, according to BI industry analysts 50% to 60% of data warehouse projects
meet this fate!
organization should seek an easy-to-use, yet powerful toolkit that enables
them to rapidly prototype the end-user BI application. By working from ‘right
to left’, the organization can quickly envision the solution that will meet
the business requirements. They can quickly structure the ETL and database
components to integrate the data required to enable the application.
Modifications to the prototype are done quickly, in an iterative manner, so
that the business users can see that their
are met as they evolve.
In summary, it
is known that enabling end-users with BI capabilities empowers them to make
better business decisions that improve business performance. Therefore, to
maximize value, you should strive to get this capability into the hands of as
many of your knowledge workers as possible. Your Return-On-Investment (ROI)
will be determined by:
How much value you can actually recognize, over time. This represents the
benefit to your organization, and can be a combination of top line growth,
cost reductions and cost avoidance.
How effectively you can manage the 3 P’s when implementing the Information
Value Chain. This represents the ‘costs’ that you can control.
organization that successfully minimizes costs, while maximizing value, will
maximize the ROI.
UBCsoft, we provide the software and services to manage your business and
maximize your ROI. We have two products that assist your corporation.