Consolidation of Reporting and BI Systems

By CIOReview | Friday, March 17, 2017
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Today, enterprises leverage business intelligence (BI) tools to turn the deluge of corporate data into action-oriented insights. With components like metrics management, dashboards, scorecards, KPI management, financial reporting, planning, budgeting, and consolidation, transforming the way modern businesses operate, the disparate data sources need to be integrated to avoid redundancies and high costs. The key drivers behind this transformation are a mix of technology trends—cloud, mobility, big data, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, and analytics. For enterprises using multiple BI tools for reporting and analysis, the key to successful BI transformation entails addressing simplification, standardization and governance processes with a potent combination of migration frameworks and tools.

Identify the Need for BI Consolidation

Before an enterprise embarks on their BI Transformation journey, it is crucial for them to identify why exactly they need to consolidate their BI systems. Enterprises often face the risk of using inconsistent information provided by disparate BI tools to make mission-critical business decisions at an exorbitant total cost of ownership (TCO). Additionally, factors such as budgetary strains, inconsistent reports, delay in creating and modifying BI applications, and a differing stance by IT groups on the type of data, metrics and algorithms to be used in the reports generated by multiple BI tools, indicate the need for standardization.

Select and Standardize the Right Tools

BI standardization has been known to reduce costs and complexities associated with use of different BI tools and the data disparities arising out of that. To cater to the emerging BI needs within their enterprise, it is important that the CIOs and other business heads choose the right technology stacks before they standardize and consolidate them onto a single BI platform.

Develop a BI Consolidation Plan

Before laying out a plan of action for BI consolidation, businesses should conduct a preliminary survey to take stock of existing BI applications and data shadow system—a group of spreadsheets and customized databases—currently in operation within the enterprise. This survey must take into account the cost of operating, maintaining, and enhancing these systems in terms of expenditure on both the underlying infrastructure—hardware, storage and physical assets—associated with running the BI applications. This is ideally followed by selecting the BI applications that can be migrated off obsolete systems. BI Consolidation should be carried out in a gradual manner by splitting the overall program into smaller incremental projects. After acquiring, installing and setting up the BI environment, an internal training course should follow where the users are briefed and trained to leverage the BI system’s functionality. 

Enforce Good BI Governance

A seamless and subtle execution of end-to-end BI governance is detrimental to the success of a BI project, without cluttering the workflow. A crucial part of the BI Transformation plan, the best practices for BI data governance encompass standardizing the BI lifecycle, monitoring of BI tools usage patterns, and promoting constant collaboration between IT teams within an enterprise.

As organizations continue to transition from historical reporting to forecasting and planning for the future, BI transformation has become more relevant than ever before. A foolproof BI consolidation project combines both the business and technological perspectives and enables data compliance and the sourcing of relevant information. For forward looking enterprises keen on achieving the optimal results from their investments in BI tools, BI consolidation is as indispensable as it gets.