Getting the basics right is fundamental to success not only in sports but in business as well. As companies strive to race ahead of the competition, success depends on their ability to garner strategic insights from data and make informed decisions. Robust BI tools prove to be the silver bullet in connecting the data from various disparate sources and transforming it into actionable insights. Put simply, a best-in-class cloud-based data warehousing and analytics platform such as Birst can make all the difference.
However, even as Birst delivers robust analytics capabilities, and has a host of advantages, many companies implementing Birst often run into roadblocks and fall short in their BI game. Cindy Hoskey, founder and co-CEO of Agile Dragon Consulting explains why: “Birst is a robust and complex platform with an array of cool features. But if the data and modeling is not done right, then you end up with a system that works slowly and doesn’t give you accurate answers.”
With its deep-seated Birst expertise, Agile Dragon Consulting helps companies to successfully implement the Birst platform and gain maximum ROI.
The Blueprint to Realize Value
It all began when Cindy was working as a senior architect for Birst, where she was tasked with helping customers figure out the best ways to use the Birst platform to power their business decisions. Drawing on her in-depth expertise in architecting, designing, and developing Birst cloud data warehouses, analytics, and dashboards, Cindy helped numerous companies, hitherto not satisfied with their Birst platform, realize its promised value. Most often, the problems were that the data load processes took too long, or the performance of the dashboards were poor or inaccurate. Cindy’s role was to fix the problems, develop new solutions, and help them learn how to get the most out of the Birst platform. By adopting a guiding and mentoring approach, her goal was to teach them how to fish rather than fishing for them.
As per Cindy, Birst’s data model needs to translate between the data in the business’s systems and its employees’ understanding of how their company does business. Her crucial observation was that the person implementing the Birst solution often does not fully understand this data modeling aspect. Thereby, it turns out that the data model does not support the company’s current business needs, and it becomes all the more difficult to incorporate changes over time. Compounding the complexity, companies, time and again, make the mistake of designing the Birst model as a direct reflection of the source system. “Instead, it should be a reflection of the business itself. When the end result is tightly coupled with the structure of the source or sources, a business cannot be agile when it comes to reporting,” explains Cindy. But, if it is designed to reflect the business’s processes and language, regardless of the source systems, it will deliver accurate answers and be flexible enough to change as the business changes.
Setting the Stage for Excellence
Agile Dragon’s expertise in Birst architecture and development, data warehousing, and BI enables businesses to get their analytics implementation right and make smarter business decisions.
It comes as no surprise that even after starting her own company, Infor Birst—based on the excellent relationship established over the years—refers customers who are at risk of not renewing their license to Agile Dragon. Cindy and her team evaluate the customer’s problems and recommend solutions that help them get the promised value out of their analytics platform of choice.
In addition to technical expertise, Agile Dragon’s prowess extends to advisory services that enable businesses to make smarter decisions. Companies sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they must have all the data they could ever need for every report and dashboard before they go ahead with their analytics project.
Getting the Birst implementation right will make all difference between having a powerful, flexible platform that answers all your business questions and spurs business growth on the one hand versus a boondoggle, expensive mess that frustrates everybody
Instead of the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, Cindy and her team advise customers to follow an incremental approach. The goal is to start with one pain point – one area where the business suffers due to the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining critical insights. The data model, analytics, and dashboards of this one subject area should be built out first. Subsequently, they can build new subject areas into the data model and the dashboards, in order of their priority to the business. “If done this way, they will start getting value out of their Birst system in 2-3 months as opposed to 12-18 months,” states Cindy.
Custom-Built Solutions for Birst
There is yet another arena where Agile Dragon’s proficiency proves to be valuable—mentoring. Adorning the twin hats of an advisor and mentor, Cindy helps many developers and architects, who have mentoring contracts with the company, resolve their specific problems related to the Birst platform. “At times I even build and demonstrate the solution with the purpose of enabling them to grow in their capabilities,” says Cindy. Many of them are standalone Birst customers that have embedded Infor Birst OEM in their proprietary solution. “We are helping them monetize the data that they share with their customers,” she adds.
Agile Dragon’s prowess also extends to developing customized embedded digitalization and creating custom visualizations in addition to the existing features available in the Birst Visualizer’s repertoire. Cindy recollects one instance where a large company in the distribution arena was unhappy with the Birst pre-built content in terms of the dashboards in Infor CloudSuite applications as it was not providing them the answers they were looking for. They were on the verge of switching over to another platform. It was at this juncture that Agile Dragon Consulting stepped in, and post the review, decided to create a robust analytics environment from scratch. Cindy and her team gathered insights about the client’s priorities and the business questions for which they were seeking answers. A multi-phased plan was rolled out first to address the critical parts and then expand into other areas. Ultimately, the project was a huge success with an analytics system that loads regularly and accurately, providing the client with all the answers they needed.
Paths of Progress
Right from her Birst days, Cindy has been passionate about creating Agile protocols and bringing an agile mindset to her projects. A Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner, Cindy is also a faculty at The State University of New York, Farmingdale, where she teaches Agile methodology to the students.
As a nimble company offering high-touch solutions, Agile Dragon is part of a consortium of independent Birst architects and developers who specialize in excellence. The consortium supports members in finding solutions to specific problems and offers staff augmentation when a bigger project has to be carried out.
As Agile Dragon continues to guide companies toward getting the maximum value from their Birst investment, Cindy emphasizes the importance of getting the implementation right. “That will make all the difference between having a powerful, flexible platform that answers all your business questions and spurs growth on the one hand versus a boondoggle, expensive mess that frustrates everybody,” states Cindy. “We believe in excellence.”