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A CPO’s Perspective: Insights, Decisions, and the Unified View that Powers Them

For over 20 years, I have immersed myself in the world of data and analytics. And during that time, data and analytics have changed. A lot. I’m sure many of you remember the days when reporting was tied to your ERP system. If you used IBM’s ERP, then naturally you used Cognos for reporting. Or if you used SAP, then you used Business Explorer or Business Objects.  

But then self-service BI, analytics, and visualization tools began to emerge. And organizations shifted from a single tool reporting solution to a best-of-breed approach, where users and departments selected the tool best suited for their needs. Shadow IT emerged during this time, and their role was to enable and support these self-service tools. 

As a result of the self-service evolution in BI and analytics, many organizations also embarked on a journey of business and data transformation. And they were all looking to solve the same challenges: How do I drive adoption of all these analytics tools? How can I help users find what they need quickly and trust it? And how do I ensure analytics doesn’t become an afterthought – for leadership and for end-users? 

Simply put: how can I ensure that my organization is getting the most value out of our data?

Organizations made many attempts to solve these challenges. Some organizations built data warehouses, data pipelines, data lakes, data fabric, data meshes, and/or invested in data governance. And while these efforts tackled some of the core tenets of data management for data producers and consumers, the core challenge remained: are analytics reaching the consumers who need them most? 

The short answer is NO. In fact, according to Gartner, most organizations focus their analytics efforts toward technologists, who make up only a small subset of the people with analytics needs in an organization. The research shows that 92% of the potential analytics consumers may be neglected when it comes to working with analytics tools and resources.

So how can organizations solve this challenge? How can they ensure that all users can find the analytics assets that they need to make informed decisions? How can you make sure that the data strategy is supported by an overarching information strategy?

This challenge certainly isn’t new. But how organizations solve this challenge needs to change. And that’s where ZenOptics comes in. 

ZenOptics knows that in order for analytics consumers to make informed decisions, they need to know which report is right. That’s why we’ve designed our solutions with the analytics consumer in mind. By giving analytics consumers a simple way to determine which report is the right report, they can clear out the noise caused by numerous, similar versions of reports that pull data from disparate sources and systems. And they can gain visibility into where the report is coming from so that they can confidently choose the one they need for the task at hand. Let’s take a closer look.

A Unified View of Analytics Assets

ZenOptics provides a unified view of analytics assets that curates the information a user needs to accelerate decision-making. As a personalized “report catalog” delivered via a highly customizable dashboard, users can discover and access analytics content through favorites as well as within categories and workflows.

ZenOptics Dashboard Example

From reports and dashboards to Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and PDFs, users gain understanding through analytics metadata  about these assets, allowing them to answer questions such as:

  • Is this the appropriate asset for my needs?
  • Who created the asset?
  • When was the asset created?
  • Is this the most recent version?
  • Which system(s) did the data come from?

ZenOptics allows users to take discoverability to the next level through intelligence. Using keyword search capabilities, users can correlate assets through metadata, identifying traits such as the type of report (Finance vs. Sales), which system it came from (Salesforce vs. Cognos), whether the asset is certified or not, and how many users view/use the asset. Users can also discover other, related assets that exist in other systems or other parts of the organization – and if they don’t have access to the asset, they can initiate a process to request it, right from their search results.

ZenOptics Search Example

As analytics assets proliferate, another challenge facing users is redundancy. How can a user feel confident that the report they are using is the most accurate, most up-to-date version? 

Because ZenOptics provides a unified view of assets regardless of the source system, users become aware of potential redundancies. Matching capabilities use algorithms to flag similar or duplicate reports based on metadata. Then, users can alert analytics producers to these potential duplicates so they can help determine which one is right or most recent. Analytics producers can then apply governance principles to certify the content at the time of curation. 

This process allows business users to optimize their experience by choosing to work with only certified content (clearly identified with blue check marks), which gives them confidence that the asset they are using is right and appropriate for its intended purpose. This curated, personalized view is not only trustworthy, but also more efficient, helping users to quickly and confidently access the insights they need to drive better decision making.

Once users have a curated, unified view of relevant and appropriate assets for their work, then they can then focus on composability. By composing their own workflows, they can easily enable one-click access to the analytics assets that optimize their existing business processes. For example, finance users responsible for month-end close can compose a workflow that includes the reports, external links, internal and external apps, and database views needed throughout the month-end close process, regardless of the underlying tool in which the asset resides. By adding these analytics assets into a flow, they can easily and efficiently gather the data and insights needed to complete the process in a consistent, standardized, and efficient way.  

Supporting the Unified View

Making use of analytics is not just about tech capabilities or processes; roles and people are key to the success of an analytics strategy. While many organizations rely on their business users and analytics producers to manage and maintain analytics assets, other organizations are finding that having an analytics business partner is key to their success. An analytics business partner understands both sides of the organization – business and technical. They help translate business needs into technical requirements and garner respect from both business and tech folks because of their ability to understand the technicalities and nuances on both sides. Because of this unique blend of skills and knowledge, they are able to work alongside analytics users to support them throughout the process – from identifying data elements through to decision making. 

These analytics business partners are responsible for managing the platform, bridging the gap between business needs and increasing consumption. And they support business users as they curate content into categories and workflows within their trusted unified view. 

You may find that individuals with these skills already exist within your organization. And if they do, I suggest formalizing their role. But if they don’t, consider hiring someone with a blend of functional and technical expertise to support your users.

ZenOptics recognizes the challenges that the proliferation of analytics assets has caused for organizations. Using advanced integration technologies along with machine learning and AI, ZenOptics creates an analytics catalog that brings cross-platform analytics assets together in a unified view that goes the last mile – closing the gap between insights and decisions. And when businesses adopt an analytics catalog that provides a single, unified view for enterprise analytics assets, they improve access to critical insights, increase assurance that the information is right, and accelerate decision making across the organization.

Ready to learn more? Request a demo. 

Written by ZenOptics Chief Product Officer, Heena Sood.

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