Tag Archives: SaaS & Cloud

Advantages of moving BI into the cloud

30 Apr

As the cloud technology taking its turn to bring in a new revolution in this competitive IT world, organizations using Business Intelligence (BI) are keen to evaluate the benefits and risks involved in moving to a cloud based solutions. Enterprises believe this emerging technology as one of the complexity minimizer with respect to positioning their vast data warehouse and help them to simplify their task in making decisions.

Companies had already established and started implementing strategies in moving their in-house applications and production applications into cloud. However, it’s a highly perplexed scenario in case of a BI deployment into cloud. For example, let us consider a company that is intended to make a decision using their Big Data. (Big data is nothing but the term that describes the voluminous amount of unstructured and semi-structured data that are created by an Organization i.e., data that would take too much time and cost too much money to load into a relational database for analysis). Gartner research says the data capacities of the enterprises are growing at 40 to 60% per year. Another research says an enterprise would need a minimum of 2 to 3 years of combined data for analysis and decision making.

So by considering the research factors,

  • Do you believe it is possible for the company to make decision by storing voluminous amount of unstructured and semi-structured data in an excel sheet or any other application?
  • Do you believe this can achieved without a cloud solution?

It is certainly “Yes” for a few and “Never” for most of the enterprises. However, companies saying “Yes” without cloud solution end up with expensive, slower and harder solution. Eventually the companies saying “No” now have the option of moving their business intelligence and data warehousing applications into cloud using experienced solution providers like ZSL.

The anticipated research report of Gartner states that globally 70% of companies will be hosting BI in the cloud. By this research consideration, BI software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a viable alternative for companies’ planning to migrate their data warehousing and data mart infrastructure.

Risk while opting for a Cloud BI

Choosing a Vendor: Choosing a cloud BI vendor is very critical. Every big player has a cloud computing service or platform and claim to be powerful, easy-to-use, flexible and affordable. So how do you pick the one that is right for you?

Primarily research and gather information on the list of Cloud BI service providers. Once you have a list in hand, you will have to gather some fundamental information involving availability, security, performance, and customer service from them.

Assemble a list of providers. You can gather this information from magazine and news sources. You can get referrals from other businesses or business or industry groups. You can look to IT research companies, such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. You can also hire outside consultants to help your company find the right fit in a cloud computing vendor. In addition, there may be providers that specialize in solutions for your industry.

Once you have a list of prospective vendors, you need to gather answers to some fundamental questions involving availability, security, performance, and customer service. From the these information, the best way is to follow high-level, yet restrictive, criteria and only then compare them on a feature-by-feature basis.

Meeting your Business Requirements: Be sure to carefully consider your business requirements and go with a vendor that meets them. You may risk going with a smaller vendor, but you are more likely to get the BI deployment you want.

Availability: It’s important to understand if the service is deployed on an underlying infrastructure that is backed up with a meaningful service level agreement. The level of availability you need depends on the criticality of the service to your business. Nevertheless you’re looking to move your business intelligence systems to the cloud, it’s likely very important for the cloud service to be highly available. However, for moving secondary application you might not require high availability of the cloud solution.

Security: The biggest objection about cloud computing is security, taking corporate information outside the four walls. It should be notable that vendor’s may use the same server to host even your competitors data. Most vendors go about cloud security through the conventional means of various levels of encryption, firewalls, etc. So make sure where is the vendor server that hosts your data center and what is their business continuity during natural disasters? This will give you a satisfactory figure of how your vendor will be able to manage your data in a secured way.

Performance: As the cloud services gets matured; companies are expecting performance metrics from the vendors to support the growing business critical systems that make their business run. They expect a better performance than when it was on their own data center. So test your vendors asking how does the cloud service provider define performance? What metrics do they use? How does their definition of performance relate to end user satisfaction?

Customer Service: As a company you need to analyze the vendor yourself by

  • How quickly does a vendor return your calls?
  • How open are they in discussing what kind of technology they use or who their providers are and how often they have downtime?
  • What servers they use and the software they run and their disaster recovery plans?

There are few other ways to measure a vendor’s merit, as well.

  • Ask for referrals and check up on as many as you can.
  • If you’re thinking about moving a highly critical business application to the cloud, ask to visit their data center as it will tell you a lot about their capability. And, obviously, check whether the vendor is ready to sign a service level agreement (SLA).
  • If the vendor relies on other software and hardware and infrastructure players to keep their service up and running, make sure all the promises in the underlying SLAs align properly.
  • Check whether your vendor is confident enough to take up the project. If they are willing to include penalties in the SLA. You really want to make sure that there is confidence in the service, If the underlying providers are willing to share some level of risk in delivery, it’s a good indicator those vendors are confident in their infrastructure.

TCO: Companies need to ultimately evaluate their total cost of ownership ahead of implementing a cloud BI. It is affordable investing on a solution like cloud BI comparing the long-term cost. The advantage of a prompt implementation may deserve the hazard of long-term cost and may contribute to additional profits, like allowing you to scale your BI to more users throughout the organization faster.

Time Savings: It is a time consuming process with an in-house BI deployment. You need to spend more time on setting up, maintaining and debugging server. By adopting a cloud BI such burden can be avoided and that time could be better spent elsewhere, which means faster time-to-value and quicker ROI.

Data Security: As told earlier, data security concerns persist or so much has been invested in your existing data warehouse infrastructure that switching now would cause problems, then a web services model as described above may be the way to go. You maintain the risk of data security and get the reward of reduced costs by utilizing SaaS BI.

BI is the right choice at this point to move into the cloud and into the future. This new solution of BI in the cloud that’s more affordable and faster to implement will eventually force us all into a more repeatable and scalable model, and it’ll be best for information consumers at every level and will allow BI to become more dominant making us all better decision-makers.

For more information on Cloud BI contact Shaughn Knight

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Self-Service BI & adapting Line of Business (LoB) Executives

19 Apr

Today, BI has sprouted more than just a technology as organization across the globe demand over more relevant and faster information to support decisions. Eventually data volumes are conservatively increasing 30% a year and enterprises find it difficult to handle these enhancing data sources that enrich their analytical systems. Best-in-Class companies are able to identify these needs and allocate appropriate IT resources to manage these back end data warehouse leaving only the functionality reports to be created by the Line of Business executives. However LoB executives are struggling to find a way to capture the appropriate insights from the information that are streamlined in and out of the organization.

Line-of-Business executives are entitled to make more agile decisions with the efficiently streamlined information. LoB Decision makers has no longer have an option to wait for the IT executives to generate their reports, they need to be abreast of the market sheers and quickly respond to the threats and opportunities they face. Hence they require self-service access to their analytical solutions to take right decision without the interference of the IT. Top performing companies have started implementing a comprehensive road map to develop their technically imperfect LoB executives into analytically inclined decision makers, spread Business Intelligence (BI) capability to more organizational functions, and drive significant internal and external business efficiencies as a result.

The self-service delivery model to BI is being adopted by many enterprises in order to create significant efficiencies for organizations and meet the growing need for business visibility and decision. The self-service approach allow

  • LoB executives to increase the curiosity towards their analytical thinking to learn more on the BI tool
  • Companies to extinguish IT intervention into the deployment and support of the BI tool
  • To create more analytical friendly environment wherein reports and dashboards can be created, applied to the data and distributed to the executives within the organization
  • LoB executives have the complete freedom to create their desired customized data that induce them to make more confident and perfect decisions that significantly leads to improved business performance.
  • LoB executives to drive value form traditionally untapped organizational data.

While speaking about the companies adapting to the self-service delivery model there are two main factors that are driving companies to generate a self-service environment for BI.

  1. Most enterprises are experiencing a growing need to create business visibility between top management and specific departmental levels i.e. In a business the view of a top management executive will be only at a strategic level and he/she might not be strong enough to understand the functional area similarly the LoB managers of an organization have a good understanding of what drives the business but strategically weak to take decisions. In order to improve the business visibility, companies therefore leverage the self-service environments.
  2. Most departments in an organization find themselves submerged with raw data about their business. While efforts have been made at the IT level to capture and manage this data, many have yet to leverage those efforts to deliver actionable insight to the department level.

These two factors are top of mind for companies looking to achieve self-service BI at the functional level.  Companies are looking for precise fact-based decision-making rather than decision via gut-feel. BI is generally designed to enable more fact-based decisions and most LoB executives share the overall desire to extenuate doubtfulness in how they run their business. Additionally, the need for self-service BI has shown to be born out of economic necessity. Many organizations have been forced to cut IT spending and therefore transfer not just the technical burden of BI to LoB executives themselves, but the financial obligation as well. Many of these cash-strapped companies are looking for creative new ways of delivering analytical capability, and a new direction being considered is outsourced BI model delivered via web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) interface.

For a more detailed discussion of BI deployment methods contact shaughnk@zsl.com

SmartPrise BI for Healthcare, Banking, Finance, Telecom, Pharma & Life Sciences, Travel & Logistics, Wholesale & Retail

26 Mar

ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® is the complete end-to-end Enterprise Intelligence solution for small-to-mid enterprises, which enables them to monitor, report and analyze their business performance effectively. The solution enables the enterprises to transform data into business-critical information that helps them to scale as well strategically plan to improve their business performance. SmartPrise BI Mobile for Health is developed based on Cognos, SSRIS, Business Objects, Spotfire, Xcelsius and can fit with any leading ERP & CRM applications that include Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, SAP & Oracle.

SmartPrise BI® suite provides enterprises accurate, consistent and clear data in the form of reports, scorecards and dashboards that acts as a key information for decision and policy makers to give consents, frame policies and guidelines and allocate funds for different planned and ongoing activities across the organization. The suite is addressed to meet the intelligence analytics needs of wide range of industry verticals which includes Healthcare, Banking, Finance, Telecom, Pharma & Life Sciences, Travel & Logistics, Wholesale & Retail.

ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® suite includes:

  • Enterprise Data Warehousing: ZSL follows on industry best practices in developing and delivering data warehousing platforms that span the business and analytical data warehouse needs of the enterprises.
  • Enterprise Data Management: the platform brings together the various data sources through integration between various application systems such as CRM, ERP, Legacy and third-party applications and is organized and managed through well-built service oriented data architecture.
  • Enterprise Data Delivery: ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® suite is flexible and agile that enables the users to have data drilled to any nuances and is delivered in any preferred format such as pie-charts, graphs, dashboards, reports and more. The reports can also be posted into a portal, emailed to users or allow for web-based access.

SmartPrise BI® suite is available for multiple deployment models – On Demand, SaaS & Cloud.

SmartPrise BI® Mobile
The mobile enablement of SmartPrise BI® suite enables the end users to access the mission critical reports over their smart phones and tablets such as iPhones, iPad, Blackberry, Windows Mobile & Brew devices.

Key Benefits

  • Key information that analyses your present and past business performance and guides the decision makers to frame and consent policies and processes suitable to the organization at time of need
  • Serves as a yardstick to measure your employee productivity, operation efficiency and business performance as a result of your new policies and programs
  • Proven and successful methodologies to extract, manage and deliver data
  • Centrally managed data, business hierarchies, rules and calculations to eliminate data silos and inconsistencies throughout the organization
  • Proven and cost-effective BI&DW methodologies built on prudent architecture powered by IBM Cognos which offers seamless integration between various data sources and compatible for SOA, Web 2.0 and BPM capabilities
  • Easy to interpret and analyze data using reports, charts, scorecards and dashboards in preferred formats that has a rich new look & feel and instantly accessible over web and mobile devices
  • Faster implementation services and simple configuration procedures saving 30% of your time and money involved in implementation and roll-out
  • Flexible, role-based security model to protect the reports and reporting resources appropriately and also includes extensible interfaces for integrating other security models if desired

Is your organization looking for a BI tool? Have your organization chosen the right one?

Email me your interests Shaughn Knight, AVP – Business Development and Inside Sales Operations.