Cloud-based BI leads to a revolution in analytics

Avanade is using cloud-based BI for everything from customer insight to corporate scorecards – at half the cost of traditional solutions

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 23 October 2015
 Cloud-based BI leads to a revolution in analytics

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.

Most executives have more data than ever before. What they need, however, is more insight into that data – and they need those insights in real time, anytime and ­anywhere they happen to be.

Avanade executives are no different except, perhaps, that their needs are being met by a cloud-based business intelligence service that Avanade also makes available to its clients. Called Business Insight, it replaces cumbersome slide decks and spreadsheets with highly visual and intuitive dashboards optimised for phones and tablets running on any major platform.

The BI-as-a-service (BIaaS) solution runs on Microsoft Azure and a platform of managed capabilities which Avanade developed specifically to bring cloud-based BI to both Avanade and Accenture clients. It is based on Microsoft SQL Server for data processing, analysis, and reporting. The solution extracts data from various application databases and integrates them in an enterprise data warehouse. The warehouse in turn feeds a SQL Services Analysis Services cube that power users can access in two ways: directly using Microsoft Excel analysis tools, and indirectly through SQL Server Reporting Services reports available through SharePoint dashboards.

Avanade consultants and executives need ­anytime, anywhere access to the Business Insight service, and Avanade gives it to them on their device of choice. The company used Microsoft’s acquisition of Datazen to create front-ends that support phones and tablets across all major platforms: Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, iOS and iPad, and ­Android. Because Datazen makes it easy for business users to create sophisticated, highly visual dashboards without having to know any code, Avanade consultants, like Avanade clients, can easily modify their dashboards or create entirely new ones to suit new needs.

The Corporate Scorecard for Avanade executives is one of the latest Avanade BIaaS services. The dashboard interfaces, optimised for both tablet and phone, make it easy to find and explore data – especially in comparison with the use of a slide deck on a small screen. As a result, executives now make better ­data-driven decisions.

The BIaaS solution is also faster and cheaper to bring to market than traditional BI. “With the Corporate Scorecard app, our executives have one place to go to get the data they need. They don’t have to search several databases, and they can access always up-to-date information from wherever they are. The big leap forward is that now, the data works for them, instead of their having to work for the data,” says Gretchen Johnson, Avanade’s director of growth and strategy.

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