In one of my previous blogs I asked the question if cloud is ready for enterprise analytics.
I mentioned that cloud analytics is great for data that is captured in cloud, but you need a very strong business case to move large volume of your operational and financial data from on premise to cloud. I still stand by my initial thought, but I must admit that the latest development in cloud analytics is pushing for a paradigm shift.
Ignorance of Value
We cannot outright ignore the value of cloud for specific business needs. Oracle’s BICS (Business Intelligence Cloud Services) provides business groups with an alternative cost reduced option to traditional on premise data visualization tools, and is virtually maintenance free for customers.
With the rapid emergence of the valuable Salesforce CRM tool, it is predictable that most of the sales data will be in cloud in coming years. According to Mike Carter, Vice President at Wave6, a leading Salesforce consulting firm, “salesforce.com has grown by over 30% in each of the last 3 years and is poised to do so again this year. It is a regular fixture in the ‘leader' quadrant published by Gartner Group. This trend will only continue as the breadth and depth of salesforce.com product offerings increase and customers begin to fully utilize the strength of the platform”.
Newly launched Salesforce Analytics provides a great visual interface to this data and has an equally excellent capability to merge other data sources.
For many organizations that are comfortable with putting their financial and other operational data in the cloud, SF Analytics and Oracle BICS provide a very efficient and cost effective way for data mesh and cross functional reporting.
Shifting Reluctant into Effective
However, often time companies are reluctant to put all of their data in cloud and would prefer to have sales and HR data in the cloud, but keeping financial and operational data on premise. In order to have a 360 degree view of the organization, it is important to have a solution that can integrate the organizational data with the cloud data effectively and seamlessly. This is especially important for companies that have invested in developing an enterprise information model to provide single face to all of their organizational data.
Although cloud and on premise both have their justifications based on the organizational needs, I don’t see any organization with a significant amount of on premise data that will going for all out cloud analytics by loading their operational and financial data in cloud.
Similarly, companies will not shy away from cloud based applications just because their historical data is on premise.
An applicable solution? A hybrid model that merges the cloud data with the on premise enterprise BI backbone providing analytics across the organization without creating multiple data silos.
Real World Situation
Recently we ran into a similar situation with a client where we implemented Oracle Business Intelligence Analytics (OBIA) against their PeopleSoft and EPM data sources to have a single view of all of their Financial, HR and Supply Chain data. They use Salesforce.com as their CRM system. Although there was a lot of money and effort invested in putting together a centralized business intelligence backbone for their on premise data, their sales data was still sitting in a silo with no integration of the financial and operational data that resides on premise.
Cross functional reporting between Salesforce and other on premise data required manual extraction of Salesforce data, using excel as the report building tool, which was time consuming and prone to user errors.
Sales executive wanted to see comparative analytics between their pipeline, projected growth, planned growth and growth trends from previous quarters. This required data from multiple sources including PeopleSoft for Actuals, EPM for planning and Salesforce for pipeline data.
Since PeopleSoft and EPM data was already together on premise, we suggested integrating the Salesforce data with OBIA data to provide the 360 degree view to the executives. We developed a hybrid analytics system for the customer that created the common enterprise information model (CEIM) by combining the cloud data with on premise data at semantic level, without actually pulling Salesforce data from the cloud.
This allowed a real time integration of data without any scheduled ETLs. Single sign-on and integrated API calls between Salesforce and OBIEE ensured that users logging into Salesforce.com were able to view the integrated dashboards without leaving their Salesforce application.
This is an excellent example of how a hybrid analytics model can help organizations such as yours, integrate your cloud applications with on premise BI infrastructure.
After all, a successful BI system removes the data silos, and does not create new ones.
Contact us for more details on how to remove data silos in your organization!
Another Helpful Resource
Robert Greaves provides a good introduction to SF Analytics in his blog: "Flying High with Salesforce Analytics."