Connecting Data Systems and Replacing Outdated Reporting Platform to Provide Self-Service Insights to Customers
With offices in more than 40 countries and operations combined over the course of acquisitions, it’s no surprise our client was held back by disparate data sources.
That disjointedness, combined with an outdated reporting engine, hindered our client’s efforts to provide its customers with up-to-date insights. As a consulting and certification firm, our client has deep and rich information to share with customers. Doing so efficiently enables the organization to add value through transparency into processes and insights customers can use in their own product decision-making.
Our client engaged us to bring order to the situation. The goal was to get beyond merely “running reports” for customers upon request and get to a whole new paradigm in which an array of standard customer-oriented reports are available on-demand—instantly, with up-to-date data. The goal was to serve customers transparently, with outstanding detail, and to do so with zero human oversight necessary.
The Concurrency team began with a brief “inception project” for in-depth exploration of our client’s business needs and current status. Throughout the course of this one-month initial phase, we gathered information that enabled us to make a highly detailed recommendation on how to move forward.
Together with representatives from our client’s IT and business departments, we asked questions around exactly what do our client’s customers need to know in order to successfully engage and run their own businesses. We identified key questions from customers and the data (and security) relating to those questions.
Then we proceeded to implement our recommendations, which included substantial back-end infrastructure work centered around an entirely new Data Lake in Azure. By centralizing data storage in Azure, we were able to solve the problem of isolated data streams.
In addition to the data platform itself, we also addressed the reporting tools used in conjunction with it. In particular, our client had previously been using Silverlight, which is now an antiquated tool that requires extensive use of plug-in software to make it function in a modern environment. We helped our client identify how to move ahead with PowerBI to marry a modern reporting toolset with the modern data platform.
The result is the ability to go much deeper into the data our client presents to its customers. Previously, the end result might have been a bar chart or line graph—and perhaps associated spreadsheet data available for export—but now, customers can derive clear insights right within the context of the reporting tool (which itself is branded with our client’s logo and brand styles).
For example, customers can now intuitively explore such questions as: Are my sales up versus a prior period? Are my suppliers succeeding in supplying me with products that meet quality standards? Which suppliers are having trouble producing my parts?
We helped our client implement a user-friendly, highly visual system of customer engagement around these and other questions. The system lets users dig in to uncover important insights.
The Concurrency team on this project included two technical architects, a data engineer, a project manager and a software developer. We worked onsite at regular intervals, including for workshop sessions. We also complemented our onsite sessions with regular meetings with our client’s internal IT team via screen-sharing and Skype.
Because this project touches a wide range of departments and represents an important step forward for this global business, the project attracted substantial visibility at an executive level. We were aware that some past projects had failed and took care to ensure stakeholders understood how and why the platform developed here is modern and sustainable.
The result is a system that helps our client add value for its customers, greatly reduce time spent preparing data for customers and establish a wholly new approach to data management that can continue to transform its operations over time.