Published on 21-Oct-2010
"IBM Cognos 8 BI offers Home Interior extensive reporting and analytical functionality on a central platform that consolidates a wide range of business data. Users can create reports and reliable analyses for sales controlling practically at the touch of a button." - Josef Steiner, Commercial Manager at Home Interior.
Business Analytics, Business Intelligence
IBM Business Partner:
Pitagora Informationsmanagement GmbH
The IBM Cognos solution provided the required analysis and reporting functionality, along with a range of self-service functions in a single product.
The company’s Microsoft Excel-based reporting system was complex and error prone. In addition, Home Interior had no access to reliable analyses for sales controlling. The company needed a standardised solution to centralise reporting and for performing reliable analyses.
IBM Cognos 8 BI provides Home Interior with a solution that consolidates and prepares company and sales data on a central platform. Users access the system via the Web and can create reports and analyses independently.
Thanks to IBM Cognos 8 BI, standardised reports provide general and departmental managers with regular updates on sales performance. Multidimensional analyses also offer detailed views of company data and business development, ensuring efficient and precise sales controlling.
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Based in Austria, Home Interior M.H. GmbH is a regional market leader, specialising in the interior design of four and five star hotels and serving the needs of upmarket private customers. Its portfolio encompasses all aspects of interior design – from textiles, paints and wallpaper to floor coverings, furniture, beds and accessories. Home Interior employs a total of 45 staff.
One of the guiding principles in the corporate philosophy of Home Interior M.H. GmbH is: “It’s all down to the right mix”. In the first place, this principle applies to the company’s product portfolio: with a range encompassing all aspects of interior design, from wallpaper to sofas. The principle has also been transferred to its IT landscape. While Home Interior’s ERP system supported its operational processes, the company required additional controlling, sales evaluation and analysis tools to provide managers with an overview of performance. Home Interior therefore decided to complement its existing IT system with IBM® Cognos® 8 Business Intelligence (BI). The new solution consolidates business data on a central platform and offers extensive analysis and reporting functionality for efficient sales
To provide a targeted response to its customers’ requirements and ensure the optimal placement of its products on the market, Home Interior relies on efficient sales controlling. The company’s managers and sales executives need to evaluate markets, assess customers and competitors, manage distribution channels and develop a sales strategy. Essential sales performance information is provided through indicators such as incoming orders, turnover, sales per employee, delivery terms and cost units. While Home Interior’s ERP system supported its scheduling, logistics and billing processes, it did not offer any analytical functions for sales controlling. To obtain an overview of sales performance, managers had to prepare reports using Microsoft™ Excel. This involved transferring business data manually from the ERP system, a very time consuming task. What’s more, the resulting analyses for sales and retail shop managers were not standardised and often
In view of this situation, Home Interior’s managers increasingly became convinced of the need for a central analysis tool for sales monitoring.
“We were looking for a solution that was capable of consolidating company data and bringing together a range of reliable analysis and reporting functions on a central portal, in order to provide managers with a solid information base to support their business decisions,” explains Josef Steiner, Commercial Manager at Home Interior.
The new solution needed to provide answers to specific questions, such as: Which products are selling best in a specific region? What costs are incurred at which steps of the sales process, and how can we reduce these? The company’s list of priorities also included an expansion of its reporting system. Home Interior’s general managers and sales managers needed to be able to generate, according to their permissions, individual analyses and standard reports, to allow them to effectively control their areas of responsibility.
Under the management of Josef Steiner, a project team embarked upon the search for a suitable solution. The search was concluded at the end of 2009. A feasibility study by Pitagora, the company’s consultancy and implementation partner, convinced Home Interior’s managers of the benefits of IBM Cognos 8 BI. As well as the required analysis and reporting functionality, the solution includes a range of self-service functions in a single product. The implementation was carried out rapidly. The company worked with its IT partner to develop a data model mapping sales data. This model was then used to create a multidimensional data cube for analyses of business information.
A detailed study of reporting requirements was also carried out as the basis for the development of standard reports. Josef Steiner was involved in each step of the project. “Our special analysis and reporting requirements were implemented quickly and easily, and employees were rapidly trained in the new functions – the solution was up and running in just a few weeks”.
IBM Cognos 8 BI brings together all the required analysis and reporting functions on a single platform. Home Interior’s users access the solution via the Web. Corporate and sales data from the ERP system is consolidated on the platform at regular intervals, which means that users work with a central, up-to-date and standardised data pool. Depending on their requirements and permissions, they can run analyses or query reports at the touch of a button. The multidimensional data model, including relevant sales indicators such as order status, product volumes and cost of sales, provides the required technological framework.
Thanks to the Microsoft Excel integration offered by IBM Cognos 8 BI, a familiar interface is available and can be used to prepare business data in a standardised format and then consolidate it in reports. If required, reports can be forwarded to colleagues in a familiar Excel or PDF format, ensuring the smooth and error-free distribution of information throughout
In contrast with the previous manual creation of reports in Microsoft Excel, IBM Cognos 8 BI now allows analyses to be run at the touch of a button. What’s more, a selection of ready-made standard reports enables even users without extensive computing knowledge to access the information they need and communicate business-critical information within the company. For example, a sales manager can quickly view the storage costs incurred in the previous month, products ordered by specific customers and the turnover generated by individual sales employees in each sales region. “One particular benefit is the self-service option for the company’s managers and users. Analyses and reports can be produced independently and then easily forwarded to the appropriate areas. This reduces users’ workloads while relieving the burden on the IT department,” explains Josef Steiner with satisfaction.
One of the main strengths of IBM Cognos 8 BI is its multidimensional analysis functionality. If required, general managers and department heads can browse through the different levels of business data in detail to find answers to specific questions. Multidimensional analysis therefore provides a better understanding of business, since it allows trends in customer behaviour to be observed, product anomalies to be identified and annual turnover in a region to be compared by product range or customer type. In practical terms, Home Interior’s sales managers can analyse the order structure of different order types, track an order status at document and item level, monitor changes in orders over time or obtain a comprehensive overview of product projects including project managers and project status. Revenue and volume indicators, as well as cost rates for logistics, internal activities or cost of sales are also displayed.
This information enables the company to monitor market trends. “In the interior design market, it is essential to stay up to date with the latest trends. What colours are popular this season? What materials are selling particularly well in a specific region? Which projects offer the greatest promise?” explains Josef Steiner. “IBM Cognos 8 BI allows us to easily answer these questions, thanks to flexible comparisons of customer and order data, market development and sales information.” From a sales controlling point of view, managers have the necessary visibility at all times to monitor business performance, develop market strategies and steer sales. Finally, another key factor is the user experience. “Our users are very satisfied with the self-explanatory functionality of IBM Cognos 8. The next logical step will be to roll out the benefits of the new solution to all sales employees,” explains Josef Steiner.
About IBM Business Analytics
More than 1,000 financial services institutions worldwide, including seven of the top 10 insurance companies in the United States, use IBM Business Intelligence and Performance Management to build a platform for market growth and operational excellence. IBM Business Analytics solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Business Analytics solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Business Analytics solutions.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
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