Business Challenge

A not-for-profit organization in the United States has a mature enterprise data warehouse, but over time, data marts have become “stovepiped,” meaning they could not share data across systems.

Transformation

To improve data integration, the organization worked with IBM Cloud Labs - Analytics to migrate to the latest version of IBM Cognos Analytics software as an on-premises solution.

Results

Delivers a holistic view

of disparate data sources

Improves users’ autonomy

by enabling them to combine data sources automatically

Saves time and money

with pre-built content and self-service analytics

Business challenge story

Chasing data integration

“Data is the hot topic right now,” says a spokesperson for this not-for-profit organization that operates within the government sector. The organization’s enterprise data services team designed, built and administers the company’s enterprise data warehouse, which encompasses the analytical data store, operational data store and approximately seven data marts. Teams and analysts across the company rely on analytics from this rich data set to drive actionable outcomes in day-to-day operational activities and to guide strategic initiatives in broader planning and forecasting.

As an early adopter of analytics, the organization has a mature enterprise data warehouse, but over time, the company’s data marts became “stovepiped,” meaning they could not share data or functionality across systems. As a result, users had to download data from multiple data marts and combine the data sets manually in a spreadsheet. Or, users would have to request specific data combinations from the IT department. To speed processes, reduce opportunities for human error and provide users greater autonomy when bringing together data, the organization sought an analytics platform that could cross over stovepipes and easily integrate data.

The Cloud Labs expertise was invaluable for us. … [T]he process was very clear, very concise, very methodical.

Spokesperson, a not-for-profit organization in the United States

Transformation story

Improving user autonomy in analytics

The organization engaged the IBM Cloud Labs - Analytics services team to help implement the latest version of IBM Cognos Analytics software as an on-premises solution. With an enterprise consumer license, the company has nearly 600 licensed users.

To prepare for the migration, the Cloud Labs team helped the organization prepackage the data and technology it wanted to “lift and shift.” The company has been using Cognos business intelligence (BI) software for a long time, and although the enterprise data services group regularly cleans up the back end, preparing for the transition provided an opportunity to dive deeply into audit reports and determine what needed to transfer to the upgraded software. A spokesperson explains: “The Cloud Labs service component of the project was perfect for keeping us organized because we had to do a lot of housekeeping to prepare for the migration. It was really helpful having the services resources available to walk us through the upgrade steps and note any of the ‘gotchas.’ They also helped us test everything, because when you’re trying to test several hundred reports, it’s really onerous for individuals.”

To further smooth the transition, the organization participated in a Cloud Labs modernization workshop, which employees deemed really helpful in getting the team up to speed on the Cognos Analytics product. “The modernization workshop was terrific because we had a resource available to help us figure out how to introduce new features and functionality to end users. We spent a week sitting with the Lab Services resource and going through scenarios in which we’d want to create a data module or use an existing framework manager package.” The spokesperson explains: “You can read documentation, but it’s so much better to have a resource to toss ideas back and forth with, and just really walk us through step-by-step how to do something.”

Users have been getting comfortable working in the new Cognos Analytics interface. “We’ve had nothing but positive responses as far as the new look and feel goes.” Users have especially liked the upgraded search functionality and the ability to drag and drop customized selections into the welcome page because they can easily access their frequently used reports and cube views.

We’ve had nothing but positive responses [to Cognos Analytics] as far as the new look and feel goes.

Spokesperson, a not-for-profit organization in the United States

Results story

Improving data integration and self-service

The upgraded Cognos Analytics software significantly improves users’ autonomy and self-service capabilities. The solution enables an integrated, holistic view of data by allowing the user to easily combine data from multiple source systems. It suggests data joins and allows users to combine data packages automatically, reducing the potential for human error, and improving accuracy and data quality. The organization saves time and money, through easy access to pre-built content and with the ability to do self-service analytics such as dashboards and stories. These features allow analysts to focus on their core job of analyzing results, rather than preparing data and managing production reports. The company is also seeing noticeably faster performance in the production environment by combining its existing hardware with the upgraded Cognos Analytics software.

The organization saved time and greatly simplified processes by working with the Cloud Labs team. An employee says that including the analytics services component in the project “gave us a jumpstart on the process. When we do an upgrade ourselves, we immediately start doing homework. With Cloud Labs, that homework had already been done.” This also helped complete the migration on time and within budget. The spokesperson closes: “The Cloud Labs expertise was invaluable for us. We weren’t doing the testing and migration ourselves, which was terrific, and the process was very clear, very concise, very methodical.”

About this government-focused not-for-profit in the US

This not-for-profit organization operates within the government sector and is headquartered in the United States.

Take the next step

To learn more about the IBM solutions featured in this story, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: