Hint: You Don’t Have to Wait for a Data Warehouse!

What if through mergers, acquisitions, and territorial expansion, your company operating data is now spread out across several ERP, CRM, and billing systems?  How can you combine all the data together into a coherent view of what is going on in finance, marketing, sales, production, warehousing, and distribution?

There are three popular approaches, each with its own unique pros and cons.  Each of the approaches requires initial data discovery to identify authoritative source of data and needed transformations.

 

Manual Data Integration – a Costly Alternative

You may have dedicated a staff resource to querying each of the ERP systems.  You may be resorting to joining the data in Excel spreadsheets and creating some charts.  This can be a miserable exercise that takes at least week to get one snapshot of your operations.  If you want your data cleaned up and accounts to be lined up between your CRM and ERP, you may have to apply even more resources to the task.

Sometimes this effort is partly automated using a homemade collection of Python or R scripts to clean up and transform the data, and perhaps with analytical tools like Tableau or Domo.

Advantages

  • Low up-front investment
  • Little or no ramp up time on tools
  • Quick to get started

Disadvantages

  • Slow
  • Labor intensive
  • Difficult to match accounts across systems
  • Manual processing for missing and dirty data
  • Not scalable
  • Data is stale when it arrives
  • What-If analysis and ad hoc queries are nearly impossible
  • Requires data discovery to identify authoritative source of data and needed transformations
Data Warehouse

For many organizations, building a data warehouse is a good strategic decision that can serve many needs.  Custom reports and dashboards can be developed from the data warehouse to serve a variety of important needs.

Advantages

  • Fast
  • Not labor intensive
  • Data is clean and authoritative
  • Automated data cleanup and transformation possible
  • Data can be reported in real-time or near real-time
  • What-If analysis and ad hoc queries are fully enabled
  • Fully scalable

Disadvantages

  • High upfront investment
  • Takes 12 to 18 months to implement before any reports are available
  • Potentially long ramp up time on tools
  • Expensive operational cost for software licenses
  • Can require extensive IT engagement to stand up and operate
  • Requires data discovery to identify authoritative source of data and needed transformations

Business Intelligence Dashboards with Smart Connectors

Customized business intelligence dashboards provide an excellent option for integrating data from a broad range of ERP, CRM, and billing systems.  Smart connectors provide direct access to production data, transform the data, and save the cleaned-up data into a persistent operational data store.  Visual analytical dashboards show combined results from all systems and allow examination of individual regions or systems.  The dashboards are provisioned with controls to answer important what-if questions.

Advantages

  • Quick to set up – can be just weeks
  • Not labor intensive
  • Data is clean and authoritative
  • Automated data cleanup and transformation provided in connectors
  • Data can be reported in real-time or near real-time
  • What-If analysis can be built into dashboards
  • Modest upfront investment
  • Fully scalable
  • Typically delivered in 2 to 6 months, depending on the number of ERP and CRM systems connected

Disadvantages

  • Modest operational cost for software licenses
  • Can require a modest amount of IT up front engagement to provide secure access to data
  • Requires data discovery to identify authoritative source of data and needed transformations

Fastest Time to Profitability

If the shortest time to profitability is your goal, setting up business intelligence dashboards with smart connectors is your best first approach.  You’ll have the data from your key ERP and CRM systems aggregated and transformed to serve dashboards that give answers to the critical questions you have today.

If you later establish a data warehouse, next year or later, the smart connectors that power your dashboard data can be reconfigured to draw data from your data warehouse.

Why Glimpse

Blackstone and Cullen’s Glimpse business intelligence dashboards should be your first step in transforming your data to work for you and give you actionable insights into your organization.

With our library of configurable dashboard templates and API connectors, Glimpse can be up and running in less than two months, compared to over six months for an on-premise solution.

We have hundreds of these dashboards in our “day one ready” portfolio set by your role or by your industry to get you to Maximum Profit in the Shortest Time.  

Try the interactive Dashboard for FREE

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