Reporting has historically focused on the past: Based on transactional and market data, you can see how your company performed. But using the company’s business performance data to see where the business is going — not just where it’s been — can be a challenge.
The accessibility of information is also increasingly important as companies become more mobile and management expects more real-time analytics for making better decisions. Sales teams, for example, are constantly on the go and interfacing with customers. They need to be able to react and respond quickly to market demands, customer needs, available inventory, and production schedules.
We saw this need first hand at Dell. Our sales teams had access to a lot of information, but it came from a variety of data sources, legacy systems, processes, and reporting systems, each with different performance measurements and indicators. For better performance, we needed to consolidate, standardize, and streamline these systems. We tried multiple times to create a single data repository, but the solutions were too slow and could not scale. With the in-memory power of SAP HANA and the integration of analytics, speed, and visualization capabilities, we were able to create an end-to-end solution, Dell’s Business Management System (BMS), that leverages SAP HANA’s ability to process data quickly and enables self-service reporting and advanced analytics to drive proactive risk-based alerts and decisions.
The BMS will soon be released as an on-premise offering coupled with infrastructure based on SAP HANA. Let’s look at how the BMS is constructed as well as some lessons learned during Dell’s transformation with the BMS.
The Technology Behind the Scenes
The BMS is based on Dell’s SAP HANA offering (see Figure 1), a hardware appliance built on two Dell PowerEdge R920 servers, a Dell Storage SC8000 controller, and Dell Networking S4820T and S60 switches. The hardware appliance is offered in multiple configurations (see Figure 2) and is built for reliability and scalability. In addition to the hardware, Dell’s SAP HANA offering includes pre-loaded software and a full range of services, including SAP HANA managed services. This technology enabled us to pursue a number of key transformations within our project. Let’s look at some of the drivers for the project and some benefits gained along the way.
Align the Business
As with any technology project, it’s important that the business be aligned at the outset. Business and IT must work closely, and it needs to start from the top. In our case, we had members of Dell’s executive and senior management teams acting as agents of change. We set up a business intelligence council with executives from across lines of business, and the project was sponsored by Dell’s vice chairman, which was important for showing a high level of commitment from senior management. By following their example, business users and developers were able to work together through requirements gathering, refinement, and development.
Create a High-Performance Reporting System
To create a high-performance reporting system, Dell defined key performance indicators (KPIs), such as days sales outstanding, number of customer invoices, pipeline sufficiency, sales rep participation, and channel performance. We also identified and addressed governance issues and centralized the approach. Centralized governance helped streamline, inform, and drive the IT roadmap, which was critical to prevent different parts of the company from returning to their own data analytics and reporting processes, which was the status quo before the BMS was implemented. With standardized terminology, attributes, and hierarchies, everyone was speaking the same language.
“Shadow IT” was a concern we overcame. When analysts were unable to get adequate data and insights from available reports, they started buying their own servers and generating their own reports. So an important part of the project was to empower business users to create and maintain reports that are relevant to their roles, because the metrics and KPIs for success are different across different business functions. This frees up IT resources to focus more on innovation and data optimization, to create a reporting system that is simple and agile as well as high performing.
Develop Based on a Blueprint
Of course, the business can’t act alone. IT and the business worked together to customize a common blueprint for a fully integrated, differentiated, end-to-end architecture that combined hardware, software, and services into an easily deployable solution. Dell Blueprints (see dell.com/blueprints) are based on common use cases. Product architectures are tested and validated to ensure fast, reliable, and predictable deployment of workloads. We will be releasing the Dell BMS offering under this program.
Impacting the Business
So far, Dell has seen these benefits after its transformation:
- Non-standard KPIs and metrics have been cut by 50%.
- Regardless of the source, data is synchronized across more than 99% of records.
- Because of data centralization and standardization, BI costs have been cut by almost 50%.
- Automation of sales reports and dashboards has increased by 40%.
- Users are experiencing 60% faster response times for both traditional and predictive analytics.
- Unofficial reporting systems caused by shadow IT were reduced by 80%.
- Sixty percent of analytics reports were created more quickly using self-service BI.
- Because of the savings and increased productivity, funding has been made available for more analytics capabilities, which have expanded by over 20%.
For More Information
Focused on enabling smarter decisions and more effective outcomes, Dell helps customers around the world overcome business challenges as an end-to-end service provider with a diverse set of products, solutions, and services. For more information, visit dell.com/sap.