How to Gain a Competitive Advantage with your Customers by Externalizing your Reporting

Reporting Requirements

Does your business require you to provide your customers with insight into their own data from your system, along with the ability to create their own ad-hoc reports and dashboards?  Regardless of your industry, you may be faced with this new requirement being requested by new or existing customers.  Or, perhaps your system already supports some of your customers, but you have been struggling with the various complicated processes required to manage multiple customers accessing your analysis and reporting environment.

A customized solution exists that will not only facilitate self-service and visibility to your important customers but, in the long run, differentiate you from your competition.

The Solution – A Use Case in Freight Management Reporting

NewIntelligence specializes in providing their customers with this value-add ability.  As part of a solution to one of its IBM Cognos clients in Montreal, NI developed a Freight Management Reporting system that supports the company’s select customers with visibility inside of IBM Cognos.  A reporting and dashboarding environment was created to allow multiple customers of the company to log in, create ad-hoc reports and perform analysis on the transportation and logistics services that were being provided to them.  To manage an environment with multiple customers and control access, a custom security module was implemented.  Instead of the company’s customers manually providing them with a master data file on customers and products on a semi-regular basis, a fully automated process was set up through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).  EDI allows two businesses to communicate by sending data electronically.  The customer’s master data is now transferred electronically via EDI.

It All Comes Together

A new set of master tables and transaction tables was then created with the customer’s data, which included all fields based on reporting requirements.  All the different customers that required access to this environment were centralized in a single location allowing a consolidated reporting environment with multiple customer data.  The security setup even determines what shows up in the report depending on the user, since the company can define which users can access the system, as well as which set of data they can see.

ICI Interface

Everything is controlled inside of “ICI”, the intellectual property of NI.  However, a custom add-on module was created specifically for this purpose.  The company is now able to control all data that gets loaded into this environment through a simple user interface.  Adding customers to the system requires no coding whatsoever.  The controls are now in the hands of the business user to decide what data comes in and who has access.

EDI allowed NI to leverage reference types inside of the data being transmitted.  As a result, different customers used different coding structures.  This was factored into the design and provided the flexibility required to accommodate the distinctness of each client, while preserving homogeneity.  This permitted the construction of a model that allowed them to associate various codes to specific elements in the reporting application.  The element association is also managed inside of ICI.

The Result

The outcome for this company was the creation of an application for reporting in IBM Cognos with the flexibility of a customized reporting environment for their select customers.  Not only can this transport organisation now look at all their customers’ data in one place, but their own customers can look at any detail they want to at any time – they can see where items were shipped, or what was shipped, down to the model, customer, and so on.

This solution is adaptable to any kind of business and can be used to make data available to customers of any company.  Once the infrastructure is built, your company can take control by becoming self-sufficient in managing access to your environment. You can independently add new customers as needed.  You can then, in turn, provide your important customers with self-service reporting, complete with their own portal with only their information visible to them.  Having this level of ad-hoc reporting available will not only attract interest from your current customers, it will attract new customers who have these requirements to engage with you.

Find out more about how NewIntelligence can help you set up a customized reporting environment in which multiple customers may gain access to insights into their data by contacting us for a free consultation today.

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