With 2,500 users and thousands of reports to migrate, Elkjøp knew that it needed to prepare carefully to make sure the upgrade was a seamless process.
“The key was good communication,” explains Melkeraaen. “When we showed our users the modern look-and-feel of Cognos Analytics, there was great enthusiasm about the upgrade. We used that positive engagement to persuade them to review all their reports and decide which ones they really wanted us to migrate to the new system. As a result, we were able to clean up our environment, scrap dozens of legacy reports that were no longer useful, and gradually move users onto the new platform. It was a very smooth and successful project.”
The new version provides a significant upgrade to the user experience, with a drag-and-drop approach to building dashboards, and attractive, smoothly rendered visualizations.
“We now have the best of both worlds,” says Melkeraaen. “For the end-users, Cognos Analytics is a big leap forward—it’s just as visually attractive as products like Tableau or Microsoft Power BI, and it makes it easy to build your own reports and dashboards.
“At the same time, it maintains the traditional strengths of the Cognos platform that our BI team depends on. Its enterprise-grade capabilities around integration, data governance, and metadata management are vitally important when you’re supporting 2,500 users and 45,000 reports per week.”
For example, the BI team has been able to integrate Cognos visualizations into the interface of its ERP system, providing a live view of inventory levels at each store. It has also built an audit dashboard that analyzes the analytics platform’s own logfiles, to monitor user activity and troubleshoot any errors or performance problems quickly.
For Melkeraaen, the jewel in the crown of the Cognos Analytics toolset is Framework Manager, which allows his team to package raw data from the company’s data warehouse into well-structured data models that are easy for users to understand and include in their own reports.
“It’s like a buffet—users can take whatever information they want and just drop it into their reports,” he comments. “Cognos even suggests suitable ways to visualize the data, so you don’t have to design complex charts yourself. Building a new dashboard used to take us up to a month; now it’s a matter of hours, or even minutes.”
Insight drives performance
With the new version of Cognos Analytics in place, the Elkjøp BI team decided to build a new sales dashboard as a showcase for the platform.
“Our intention was both to get users excited about the new visualization capabilities, and to deliver direct value to the business by providing a whole new level of insight,” says Melkeraaen.
“We created a dashboard to analyze intra-day sales, which is fed by a stream of data from our point of sale systems that is updated every five seconds. You can see sales at every store across the whole Nordic region as they tick up over the course of the day, and compare them with the previous year’s performance, and with current targets.”
This live dashboard delivers huge value to the business during major sales events such as Black Friday.
“Last Black Friday, our executives were monitoring the dashboard every minute of the day, looking at the top- and bottom-performing stores and sales teams, and taking immediate action whenever they noticed a problem,” says Melkeraaen.
“The ability to monitor every transaction in every store over the course of the day empowers them to make the right decisions at the right time, and make sure we take every opportunity to hit our sales targets. We’re confident that the dashboard helped to boost the morale of our salespeople, providing an aspect of gamification that encouraged healthy competition between chains, stores, and categories—contributing to an additional drive for a record-breaking Black Friday performance.”
He concludes: “Cognos Analytics is helping us push the boundaries of what analytics can do for our business. As we develop more near-real time reporting capabilities, we’ll unlock new ways for our decision-makers to turn data to Elkjøp’s advantage. At the same time, thanks to the platform’s enterprise features, we can be confident that whatever we do will scale robustly to meet the demand of thousands of users across the business.”