I like taking pictures and have been capturing different scenes and memories since the ’90s. Not surprisingly, I have a lot. Some have been printed and are kept in albums, some are in boxes while others live on various thumb drives and even an old laptop. More recently, I have been storing my pictures in the cloud courtesy of Google Photos. And this summer I decided to get all my photos and pictures in order. It was an enlightening process, and the similarity to business intelligence (BI) organizations beginning their own report rationalization process was striking.
If you are like most BI and data leaders today, you receive almost daily requests for new reports and analysis. Frequent user requests to test or acquire exciting new BI platforms is also common. Over time, your company ends up with a lot of reports in different formats and locations. And just like all those old pictures of mine, it becomes very challenging to manage this diverse ecosystem of reports — not to mention expensive, because reports need to be stored and maintained. Unfortunately, you can’t just keep them in an old shoebox.
This summer, I decided to 'rationalize' all of my pictures. Why did I have so many? Were they all for keeps? And why did I take almost identical pictures of the same scene with only slight variations? I went through a process remarkably similar to what we tell our clients. I discarded all the no longer needed photos, pictures and duplicates. I got everything converted to the same format (digital) and consolidated my pictures in the cloud.
Even better, by modernizing my entire collection on Google Photos, I can now take advantage of Google’s powerful AI techniques to very quickly analyze what I have and find what I am looking for as they are all indexed and labelled automatically. I can even search by date, location or a specific person.
For many of the same reasons, business organizations need to rationalize their many reports on a regular basis — either as a way to reduce costs, improve performance from a smaller report set, or as a precursor to migrating to a modern BI system that could bring data transformation in business intelligence. Unfortunately, most report rationalization processes are still primarily manual in nature, typically taking about 10 hours per report. That’s very time consuming and cost prohibitive even for a relatively small set of 100 reports.