Corporate Performance Management to the Rescue in a Multi-cloud World

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This article is the first in a series about how Corporate Performance Management (CPM)  applications can be a true solution for the reporting, analysis and budgeting challenges that businesses face with their data spread across multiple cloud and on-premise systems.

I recently wrote about multi-cloud deployments – defining the term, explaining how it works, and the motivation behind such a strategy. However, with more research and talking to those in the trenches of enterprise technology and system management, whether as a power user, an end user, and/or an IT professional, I increasingly realized that most organizations are already living in a truly multi-cloud world. Businesses today, generally speaking, are already harnessing the power of multiple cloud services and applications, as well as on-premise tools, to run their businesses. And this can be problematic in terms of bringing together all of your data sources for complete, actionable analyses for informed decision-making. This article will explore how the right Business Intelligence (BI) and/or Corporate Performance Management (CPM) system can be a complete solution to life in a multi-cloud world.

Think about the number of systems and data sources you rely on that are cloud. If you consider the number of programs you depend on to run your business, you will likely find that it’s more than one. And why not? With cloud being the present and future in terms of technology deployment – and just the ease of rollout and support for both the provider and the consumer, it makes a lot of sense that the enterprise software that you are using to do your work is cloud-based. However, with systems coming in from different platforms, in terms of general data and system management, this can prove challenging when it comes to bringing information together for corporate reporting, analysis and budgeting. Let’s  three-dimensionalize this with an example.

One person I talked to about multi-cloud deployments explained how they were already in the thick of a multi-cloud workflow. While they were running Microsoft Dynamics GP and a project tracking system on-premise, they also have ADP in the cloud to manage HR and payroll activity, cloud-based Salesforce for supporting their Sales team, and cloud-based Google Analytics for web statistics and ad tracking. Each is a transaction-based system and offers their own proprietary, usually not user-friendly and quite limited, report writer, and because some are on-premise and some are in the cloud, data is spread out in a way that makes consolidation for richer, comprehensive reporting and budgeting a major challenge. In other words, integration between systems is harder than ever because this company is working in different directions due to their hybrid cloud and on-premise setup for requisite enterprise software. If you’re like most companies, I’m sure you can relate. But what is a solution, aside from exporting all the data to Excel and manually compiling it to reports?

It might be met with skepticism if I came out and said that BI or CPM technology is the solution, but hear me out first. The key to multiple clouds is robust integration either between systems, which is one of the biggest hurdles for a multi-cloud deployment, or a centralized system that offers strong integrations to all of your systems. This is where a CPM/BI tool can offer a true solution.

Some CPM and BI solutions are on-premises, while some are pure cloud and some offer hybrid options on how to deploy. However, a modern, comprehensive CPM solution offers a data warehouse module that can provide a unified space with strong integrations to your data sources. If the CPM or BI tool doesn’t offer a true data warehouse, you are just adding another cloud application. You need a tool that can function as an aggregator of your dispersed data, especially as we refine the use of our diverse data types to tell the story of how our companies are doing. However, again, the key is how strong the integration technology is – in order to successfully perform the extraction, transformation, and loading of all data source information, from different clouds and remaining on-premise sources.

I would like to try to illustrate the interactions between systems with a comprehensive CPM solution for reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and a data warehouse – and it’s pretty simple. A CPM suite would offer integrations to your customer relationship management (Salesforce or CRM), human resources (ADP), task assignment (Basecamp), web site analytics (Google Analytics), and other systems like Marketo for marketing automation and any databases or systems you might host on a cloud platform like Amazon Web Services (AWS). These integrations would pull the assorted data from all of these systems as well as your on-premise or cloud accounting system and house this information in organized, accessible ways. From here, you are able to report from a consolidated database and automate your dashboards, KPI reports, budgeting process and other analysis.

The importance of a data warehouse cannot be stressed enough. Just adding any CPM or BI tool is not the solution. This tool should be a complete suite – not just another cloud to add a feature, such as dashboards, to your reporting and budgeting toolbox. To be a complete offering and to hurdle the obstacles we face in this multi-cloud world, a CPM solution must be complete with a data warehouse to offer the fully built, configurable, and consolidated space for high performance reporting, budgeting, and data visualizations.

Can we agree that reporting and analysis on diverse types of data is not going anywhere, but rather becoming more important? Can we also agree that, as we evolve in the business realm, there are going to be more opportunities and reasons to consolidate different data sources into one or more analysis for true insight into the health of the company? As we navigate the current and increasingly more multi-cloud enterprise technology culture, you need a solution that serves as a central hub with robust integrations to the data sources you rely on to run your business. You might have some questions as you navigate the search for a proper solution, and Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based budgeting and reporting solution that enables collaboration, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your BI experience.

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