Published on 21-Jul-2009
Validated on 17 Feb 2011
"I’m a strong believer in partnerships. I need to make sure that we’re going to be able to work well going forward, so I can feel confident enough that when I ask for something critical to the business I actually believe we can get the results needed, when I need them. My confidence is high that I could achieve that with the IBM Cognos solution." - Tim Hau, Director of Information Technology, Dedicated Computing
Dedicated Computing LLC
The IBM® Cognos® solution had the price, performance and scalability Dedicated Computing needed, and also demonstrated the partnership approach the company likes in its business relationships.
Create data confidence across the organization and seamlessly pull data out of its ERP system and proprietary systems to provide access to all data from a single portal.
An IBM Cognos 8 BI system that provides a streamlined approach for Dedicated Computing, enabling IT to cut down reporting times drastically and enable widespread, real-time access to data.
Access to information that was previously unavailable; ability to change the sources of data easily; increased accountability; quicker turn-around times on reporting; tight integration with ERP system.
Dedicated Computing LLC designs, validates, integrates and manages the life cycles of purpose-specific computers that serve as the processing engine for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) device. The organization’s product and service solutions support a variety of customer applications in many industries, including healthcare, defense/aerospace, security and related markets. The company’s extensive design and validation capabilities are applied to provide the ideal product for each customer application, and to that effect, Dedicated Computing validates each product to the specific needs of its customers, including industry and regulatory standards, and application-specific thermal, acoustic, power and environmental considerations.
Dedicated Computing brands itself as embedded computing experts who are enabling time to market through a compelling set of value-adds and close partnerships with clients. Dedicated Computing evaluates the customer’s product needs at the design stage, and manages those needs throughout the life cycle to minimize unnecessary product changes. Advance notice of potential changes – and the opportunity to opt out of undesired changes – eliminates the pain and cost of poor life cycle management. Complete integration services, such as physical assembly, software installation, branding, labeling, packaging, final test and acceptance, direct shipment to end users and high-level assembly, are also offered, helping to eliminate inventory and streamline the supply chain.
Dedicated Computing, which boasts a strong financial foundation and 16 consecutive years of profitable operation, began as a division of Omni Tech Corporation, a company with a 27-year history in the technology manufacturing and design business. In April 2006, the organization changed its name to Dedicated Computing after it was acquired by Mason Wells, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based middle-market private equity firm.
As a leader in a demanding, fast-changing market where the effects of economic upswings and downturns are seen early, Dedicated Computing needs to stay agile and keep ahead of the curve. To that end, executives had an increasing desire to analyze its data better and avoid siloed approaches that were common practice in the past. In part because it has a strong presence of engineers, the company’s IT department started getting requests for data that were increasingly more analytical in nature, with inquiries that required a lot of data comparisons and logical calculations. With limited tools to support these requests, IT managers quickly realized that a comprehensive business intelligence (BI) solution was needed in order to guarantee success.
Prior to implementing its IBM Cognos solution in 2007, Dedicated Computing’s business analysts were creating OLAP cubes from Microsoft® SQL Server® and its ERP system, using Microsoft Excel® as the presentation tool. In doing that, they were finding that they needed a separate cube for each type of analysis, so essentially they were creating silos of data. In many cases, the analysis of data from one OLAP cube was copied to Excel spreadsheets so it could be combined with analysis from other OLAP cubes. The use of VLOOKUP became a critical skill for management. Essentially, some key parts of the business were dependent on error-prone Excel spreadsheets, according to Tim Hau, Director of Information Technology for Dedicated Computing. “And that obviously isn’t a good thing,” he noted.
Dedicated Computing needed to access data from its ERP system in a quicker and more structured manner so it could meet its business needs more efficiently. The company wanted the ability to look at completely new perspectives, and needed its reports to keep pace with rapid business changes.
“I know we wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the IBM Cognos solution,” said Hau. “We’ve been able to keep up with some very rapid changes in the organization, in large part because of our IBM Cognos implementation. If it wasn’t for this, we’d be the bottleneck to a lot of activities going on in the company.”
By implementing a BI solution, IT managers realized they would be able to manage reports better and avoid siloed approaches that spreadsheets tend to cause. Soon after, Dedicated Computing evaluated several solutions from companies such as Oracle, Business Objects and QlikView. After careful review, Dedicated Computing chose IBM Cognos 8 BI for several reasons, including price, performance and scalability.
“I’m a strong believer in partnerships. I need to make sure that we’re going to be able to work well going forward, so I can feel confident enough that when I ask for something critical to the business I actually believe we can get the results needed, when I need them. My confidence is high that I could achieve that with the IBM Cognos solution.”
The initial go-live of IBM Cognos 8 BI started with 20 users. Since the implementation, 64 people in sales and marketing, operations, finance and the executive team are using the IBM Cognos solution, with plans to increase that to 80 within a few months. Dedicated Computing has made a significant investment in purchasing 100 licenses, and is using IBM Cognos BI 8 primarily for its query, analysis and reporting capabilities.
Based on its success, Dedicated Computing has decided to expand its use of the solution to include more data sources, such as service call center support. For example, IT closely tracks data on the company’s customer call center, and produces some reports from that data, but the group is now consolidating the data so it can analyze it, specifically by drawing comparisons between product sales volume and product specific customer calls. This practice provides the engineering and quality departments with trend analysis that is used to enhance future designs. Through these reporting and analysis activities, executives are now able to see more clearly how they can achieve business benefits. Dedicated Computing has also been able to create and track targeted market segments that the company is pursuing for increased sales. Now, the company is able to produce data formatted specifically with those business objectives at top of mind very quickly.
Dedicated Computing is using its system in many ways. For example, by examining customer forecasts and then comparing them with their actual purchases, executives can gauge how to increase sales in specific areas more effectively. Before the IBM Cognos implementation, forecasts and actual sales were handled as two separate activities that somebody would combine into an Excel spreadsheet, whereas now, these reports are produced with the sales plan so that data is readily accessible and easy to compare. Purchases can be sorted by specific data such as purchaser, product, a specific timeframe or even an order code.
With IBM Cognos 8 BI, Dedicated Computing saves time reporting, and has been able to identify trends that it can use immediately to maximize revenue in specific areas. IT managers are also able to create dynamic views of data to cater to specific business requests, and as a result, the company is able to analyze and explore business data in a multidimensional manner. Less time is spent generating reports, and executives get the information they need when and how they want it. One person in IT now handles these reports, instead of many different employees at several different times. Any routine changes in reports can most often be made within minutes once the base is put together, according to Hau.
Not only is the IBM Cognos 8 BI solution helping speed up request times, it is also showing its value to company leaders. Senior executives now rely heavily on its reporting capabilities to the point where the company’s Board of Directors’ book has roughly 60 percent of its data originating from the IBM Cognos system. The solution works seamlessly with the company’s SQL Server database and ERP system.
Hau’s expertise with the solution has also spawned the creation of a Wisconsin-area user group that meets quarterly, in an effort to show customers to make the most of their IBM Cognos implementations. This not only helps in terms of collaboration, but it also enables attendees to showcase best practices and share useful information. Hau notes that its business benefits are indisputable.
“The biggest impact of the IBM Cognos system has been our ability to look at our company from a completely different perspective, and to be able to do it virtually overnight. It’s a huge benefit for us,” he added.
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management 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 Cognos 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 Cognos solutions.
For further information or to reach a representative: www.ibm.com/cognos
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
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