Today’s automation professional is challenged with continuous improvement and doing more with less. Budgets are tight. Labor is expensive and over-burdened. It’s becoming harder and harder to sift through the broad range of tools available in today’s marketplace. Business Intelligence is the catch phrase in the front office but your needs are centered around Industrial applications. While Business Intelligence tools are great at dealing with counts and currencies, you need a solution that does that and so much more… In the Industrial world, you need an Industrial Business Intelligence solution.
While most BI solutions are designed for the “Business” world, the needs of the industrial world are a superset of that market and Dream Report delivers nicely on the greater needs of a hybrid of industrial and business data analytics.
Why would you want information in the first place? Well, there are three reasons. And it is likely that ONE of them is driving your interest in Dream Report right now. But to understand the real value Dream Report will deliver, in addition to your immediate need, let’s review the needs of your organization as a whole. It is likely that they will ALL be involved in specifying, using or approving your Dream Report purchase.
There are lots of solutions designed to deliver on each of these reasons, but there is one that delivers on all three.
The three reasons for an Industrial Business Intelligence Solution
- There’s information you need in order to run your business. If you don’t have this, then you aren’t able to be in business. This is Required Information – Compliance Information – driven by regulations and best practices. Required information is rarely in the form you really need to drive continuous improvement.
- For continuous improvement, you’ll want to maximize the context of your data, providing month to month, year to year or batch to batch comparisons. This data, and the context to drive decisions is what we call your desired information. It’s the information you want in order to run your business better. This is the KPI information for quality, quantity, cost, agility, improvements etc. and the context to know how it is changing.
- Finally, you also need Tools to better understand your data. Perform ad-hoc analysis. React to day to day changes and empower your workforce to access and analyze their own information, when and where they need it. You don’t know what you need until there is something to investigate. And like Murphey’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”, it is the information that you don’t currently have access to that you’ll need the most.
We also need to understand that different roles have different information and delivery needs. Some will want real-time dashboards, others will want reports. At some point, everyone will want some form of ad-hoc access to perform their own data investigations.
Drilling into Required a bit more…
Regulations and best practices drive this category. These are reporting requirements, often imposed by agencies with guidelines and strict penalties in their absence.
In fact, it is this category that’s driven the reporting marketplace since the early 1990s. Most solutions to address this need come in the form of repurposing business tools, with significant system integration and customization efforts. But these are the “Must Have” reports and cost became secondary to availability.
There are examples in every market. EPA and DNR guidelines impact users in Water, Wastewater, Power and Chemicals industries among others. FDA impacts Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotech industries. Leeds, EPBD and Energy Star impact the Building Automation marketplace. Regulations and best practices abound that drive the need for automated reporting of continuous and batch processes within industry.
There are particular challenges when adding regulatory reporting to an application. Reports always come at the end of a project, when data is available and unfortunately, when time and money are running low. The risks of implementing a solution are very high at this time and you’ll want a solution that has the greatest opportunity for success, the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), is the easiest to learn and apply, and designed for the specifically for that task.
The combination of high cost and examples of project completion risk, that has influenced the market to avoid reports. They are just to hard to get, time consuming and expensive…
The second need is commonly delivered through Dashboards, but reports are beneficial for long term records. When striving for continuous improvement, you’ll want to generate KPIs unique to your business and you’ll want the flexibility to change them, adapt them, deliver them with the context to make them actionable, both quickly and easily. Many Business Intelligence solutions are complicated to set up and manage over time. They become the property of your IT professional.
We’re seeing new job descriptions like Data Scientist, to use these tools most effectively. The process of getting reports and dashboards is often one of writing a specification, scheduling the work, seeing the results days or weeks later and iterating to get the final result you expect. This is a time consuming and costly approach, and unfortunately, most solutions for dashboards are just too hard to justify.
Also, creating the best Context, surrounding your KPIs with all the other data that makes them actionable takes processing power and isn’t always something you’ll want to wait for with interactive tools. You have more important things to do than watch progress indicators. This is where triggered functionality is so important, the ability to set up complex statistics, even many of them, and schedule their delivery to a KPI Report or dashboard.
And this brings us to the third category, that of seeking information.
You likely have data in many systems, both industrial and on the business side. And you have users that need to access that data, when they want it and where they want it. They need to select tags, dates and times and interact with that data quickly and easily. They may want to export it to Microsoft Excel, or copy it to the clipboard for use in other applications. Properly implemented through the use of Browser Technology, your employees can have the equivalent of a self service portal where they can log in from any device, PC or Mobile, and any browser and have access to all of their data.
That self service portal may be used for KPI development and review, or it may be used for ad-hoc analysis and troubleshooting.
When you’re evaluating solutions that deliver “Industrial” business intelligence, make sure they can deliver on all three aspects of information delivery and you’ll be addressing the complete picture, delivering value to everyone in your organization.
Also consider these 5 fundamental information requirements. Doing these well will maximize your success.
- The ability to turn raw data from ANY data source (even data combined from various data sources) into the KPIs to match user requirements.
- The ability to deliver your KPIs with enough context to make them immediately actionable. How does this KPI compare to last batch, last week, last year, etc. or other variables that help guide a decision.
- Automatic generation of KPIs and Context saves time and money. Your team is focused on evaluating results, not generating them.
- Generating KPIs are one thing. Making sure they are reviewed and acted upon is another. That’s where automated delivery comes in, via Email, and local or FTP file transfers. Portals are great, but having portals and email and file delivery is better.
- Finally, when a KPI looks off, you’ll need the ability to drill into your data, call up associated data and have ad-hoc access all the necessary information to troubleshoot and analyze the problem. That also includes being able to export the data for further analysis in other products, or sharing with other individuals.