DATAVERSITY™ has published a number of articles in the past few months indicating that the Cloud is an increasingly viable option for Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data analytics.
The recent partnership between ServiceChannel and GoodData reinforces this trend. The latter provides the technology for the former’s ProView platform and attests to the value that the convergence of these technologies – Cloud Computing, Big Data, and analytics – inherently bring organizations.
Additionally, the ease of use provided by this convergence, and by ProView in particular, not only brings these cutting-edge technologies to those who are not necessarily technologically savvy, but further empowers the end user business professional, while facilitating the overall simplification of BI.
Thus, data and information-based decision making has become an increasingly acceptable and normative part of business and operations:
“Every day when I talk to customers, it’s all about how can we make information easily accessible to you,” said Sid Shetty, President of Consulting Services and Vice President of Operations at ServiceChannel. “In one click from our platform they’re able to access this huge amount of information in a format with great visuals and really easy to understand reporting that they can now make decisions based on.”
Time to Insight
ServiceChannel provides facilities management software to a number of organizations – including global powerhouses such as Nike, Adidas and Levi’s, and is used by approximately 40,000 contractors in over 100,000 localities in more than 60 countries each day. It provides both data storage and analytics consulting for customers’ facilities service data and contractor data in a secure Cloud environment.
Prior to its partnership with GoodData, the normal BI process was nothing short of laborious. Reports frequently took weeks to prepare and were largely based on historical data. Many of the contemporary benefits based of data discovery tools – as actuated by the end user – were not possible.
ProView, however, has not only revolutionized this process and made it exceedingly modern, but also a lot more useable for ServiceChannel’s customer base, which is heavily experienced in service management and less technologically reliant than other data consumers. Organizations can not only parse their own data in close to real time, but also issue ad-hoc reporting and utilize the latest discovery tools (dashboards and interactive visualizations) to actively seek insights on their own. According Shetty:
“Creating reports is no longer something that requires us to go in and get specifications and take days to build and deploy. Creating reports is a matter of minutes now. You can edit reports, deploy them to your team, get feedback, and make changes. All of that is done with a very easy to use user interface. Our customers now are looking at reporting as a very normal part of the business process as opposed to being a special project.”
Big Data Implications
The Cloud capabilities of ProView are ideal for handling the large quantities of data ServiceChannel customers can access via its platform. Not only can clients regularly interact with their own proprietary data, but they can also access ServiceChannel’s industry specific data from the last 12 years. In addition to utilizing discovery tools from GoodData, customers can also utilize standardized ServiceChannel reports that are tailored to meet the needs of the individual consumer.
Although most of the data accessible through ProView is either historic or contemporary, ServiceChannel is working with GoodData to incorporate greater predictive capabilities. In addition to enterprises being able to augment their own proprietary data with ServiceChannel’s industry-specific information – in the form of benchmark reports that the organization will issue based on several years’ worth of comprehensive data – they will also be able to access data from conventional Big Data sources for the purpose of analytics. Such data could pertain to sensor data in the form of data about weather conditions, geographic data, or other Big Data germane to a particular organization.
Organizations can access virtually any additional sources for Big Data analytics with the same tools and technologies with which they are used to accessing their own data through ServiceChannel. This possibility significantly detracts from the complexity associated with on-premise Big Data initiatives. It also utilizes the extremely agile and scalable resources of the Cloud itself while presenting a more comprehensive version of the truth. Shetty commented on the expansion of data sources that ProView provides:
“One of the things that we want to do with GoodData is – because they’re Cloud-based and we’ve set up a platform – to integrate other external sources of data to further our demographic information into our data to come up with insights that have never been seen before. We want to go and find ways that we can give back insights that are not just related to the information that exists within their project, but more of how that relates to the world around us.”
ServiceChannel’s consulting service further aids in assisting organizations to diversify their analytics’ portfolios and sources of data to fit their needs. By identifying organizational goals and the most relevant forms of data necessary to assist in achieving them, the organization can assist clients in calibrating the proper visualizations and dashboard features that clearly denote their progress. Such consultation is integral to identifying which external data can most greatly impact a particular enterprise, as well as which ServiceChannel data can aid it in its endeavors.
Additionally, the consulting aspect of ServiceChannel is instrumental in familiarizing users with the process of activating BI for Big Data and conventional sources. The expedience at which queries are issued and answered inevitably leads to other queries, which significantly increases the amount of insight an organization can garner from three data sources – its own, ServiceChannel’s, and external sources. Shetty discussed this possibility:
“Every client that I’ve spent time with and that my team has spent time with, when they look at the information in the format that we present they then start to realize how easy it is asking a question and getting the answer. And then when you get the answer, the questions never stay the same because you’re going to have another question. So sure, pull it up; that’s the whole data discovery process.”
The extended use case of the collaboration between ServiceChannel and GoodData and the potential of ProView attest to the fact that utilizing data – whether traditional or Big Data – is getting significantly easier to influence and better business and operations processes. The convenience, security improvements, scalability, and speed of the Cloud are responsible for much of this ready accessibility, while advances in BI and analytics (with intuitive dashboards and visualization capabilities) dissolve much of the traditional complexity associated with reporting. The addition of Big Data exponentially widens the scope of data accessible, providing a more comprehensive view of the truth.
What ServiceChannel is doing for the facility management industry may ultimately serve as an example of what these technologies can do for businesses in general. Shetty reflected on this possibility:
“Traditionally, our business users have used their experience to make decisions. We’re trying to say hey, your experience can never be replaced, but if you use information and you use data and actual insight that we can offer you to make logical decisions using greater portions of information, it will only help elevate your processes as well as the industry. We’re trying to revolutionize how facilities management takes place in the industry.”