Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and really hear from some of our customers about what analytics tools have done for the businesses, their jobs, and to a greater extent, their lives.
I heard from Hubble customers and professionals in various industries about the impact of analytics – and making sense of it – that they’ve seen on their respective organizations. Participating in our roundtable was Tony Kay, director of ERP for Alcohol Monitoring Systems, whose experience with JDE software spans over 30 years; Seth Parker, of the Fike Corporation, whose passion for Hubble analytics propelled him from the accounting department to a business system analyst; and Patti Petrone, who manages the ERP team at Orlando Utilities Commission.
These customers tackled the enigma of the data unknown, sharing their own Hubble experiences through four major touch points:
Fact: Businesses Need Analytics to Run a Tight Ship
Tony Kay: For all businesses, to be able to analyze and interpret data, and to do it quickly and efficiently, is fundamental to the success or failure of the business. At Alcohol Monitoring Systems, we wanted a product that would allow us to rely on the data to analyze and interpret it in a fast, efficient fashion. We knew the data was there, but interpreting it was a lengthy process. Because it was taking so long to analyze and interpret, we weren’t making data-driven decisions and resorted to the old routine of decision making in order to keep moving and keep up. It’s important the data be ahead of the decision-making process, as opposed to dragging along behind it.
Patti Petrone: I had a very similar experience, affecting the speed of the business. We spent so much time validating data. By the time the data was validated, it was outdated and by the time the report was completed, the business team had already moved onto a different set of requests.
Seth Parker: Simply put, I experienced a data dump. When I first joined Fike, we didn’t have a reporting tool and the data had to be exported to Excel for analytics. With Excel, there are a multitude of error points. We spent a lot of time validating and manipulating the data that by the time we completed the report, it was the end of the month and the data was stale. Analytics really allowed us to get what we needed faster. It also allowed us to look at data differently, from all different angles.
Wanted: Fast, Meaningful Results
For the sake of reporting, while we get those numbers out the door and get to it quickly, what do you now do with the data? Being able to make sound use of it – and quickly – was one of the key criteria of our customers.
SP: When I started at Fike as a senior accountant, we were leaning heavily on Excel. I wanted something better -- a solution that allowed me as an accountant to put this data together, so I wouldn’t have to rely on someone in IT with SQL skills to put this together for me. I wanted a self-service.
PP: It was the exact same thing driving us at Orlando Utilities Commission. There is always resource contention, so both accounting and the inventory departments very much wanted something the end user could understand and be able to deliver their own reports and analytics without having to rely on other teams.
TK: I agree. Ad hoc reporting is the most underrated, yet most frequently used requirement in any system. The ability to be able to search data the way you want to is solving real time problems in real time, making it the most critical requirement. What I also really like about Hubble is that you can reverse your reporting. You can start with a huge transaction base, drill it out, or look at the data from every which angle. This really saves time when speed is of essence.
PP: It’s an incredibly useful resource to be able to speak the same language through the same tools across the board. When we first explored Hubble as a solution, the finance team was driving the procurement, but once we had the tool in house, everyone wanted it. Within a year, we went right back to buy licenses for our internal auditors because they wanted to be able to query the data and do reporting against it the same way that financing and purchasing did.
TK: The entire enterprise is using it, so we also use it extensively in procurement – everything rolls up into our financial reporting. With the same common tool, everybody is aware of the ability to extract data, so there’s never an excuse about lag time to pull that data. It’s a great example, encouraging sharing across the enterprise.
Saving Time and Changing Lives, One Report at a Time
Access to analytics has really redefined the businesses for these customers. In some aspects, some would go as far as to say it’s changed the lives of the people in the company.
SP: I know it’s crazy to say, but Hubble has really made a difference in lives. We have a financial analyst who used to get up at 5 a.m. every day to compile a set of reports for our sales executive team. She’s compile them before she got into the office, then spend another 1 to 2 hours to do more reports once she was in. And she used to do this daily. Since we’ve implemented Hubble analytics, she no longer needs to get up at 5.a.m. anymore, and the sales exec team can look at reports and graphs anytime they want. Most importantly, they can look at it in real time, versus what was generated earlier.
TK: That’s a good point. Real-time reporting is so significant for inventory reconciliation. That’s one of the really difficult areas of JD Edwards. Inconsistencies from logistics all the way down to fulfillment really play into customer satisfaction. A lag in reporting really has a huge effect on the business – if there’s a problem, you discover it sooner rather than later and are able to correct the error before the item is posted.
Business Transformation: Top Benefits of Rolling out Reporting Analytics
Being able to rely on the numbers you’re seeing to make sound decisions really makes a difference. I ended the discussion by asking our customers what has been the No.1 benefit the company has enjoyed since implementing Hubble analytics.
TK: For CFOs, closing month-end as soon as possible is top priority. It’s important to close as quickly and as accurately as possible, as they have shareholders they need to report into.
SP: To that extent, being able to access reporting and data more quickly has really been a game changer. We’ve been able to close our global consolidation much quicker. In the past year, since we’ve used Hubble, we completed our year-end audit much quicker – almost a month faster than we ever have before. Our account manager was able to take a few vacation days in between, which she hasn’t been able to do in 20 years! The auditors also love Hubble because they can get in right away when they request data. What used to take 2 to 3 days to generate a report now takes 15 minutes.
PP: I would say Hubble analytics has empowered users who are much more trusting of the data they’re getting. They can also drill back through reports based on the data that sits there. This also frees up my time to do other things and focus on the business processes. They don’t call me as often – I’d say that’s my no. 1 benefit!
View my entire roundtable discussion with Tony Kay, Seth Parker, and Patti Petrone.