My team needs to provide information and analysis about numerous aspects of the company’s activity to a wide range of business functions across the company. Examples include detailed Web behaviour analytics, Google Adword spend tracking, email marketing activity tracking, booking pattern analysis for each type of booking and Financial P&L. We require dashboards and reports that include interactive drill-down features so that each user can quickly find information and discover useful insights without requiring the involvement of IT or external consultants.
Before implementing Prism, we were using Excel and an OLAP cube, but this approach didn’t provide an effective way to build nice dashboards or deliver an easy drill-down interface. Also, IT involvement was required to modify the cube every time a new view was required. I have lots of prior BI experience with tools such as Cognos, Hyperion and Business Objects, but I felt that these tools were too expensive and resource-intensive for our needs.
I downloaded and installed a number of modern BI tools in order to evaluate them for our purposes. It didn’t take me long to discover that Prism was much easier to use than the other tools. It was easy to get all my data into Prism and I was able to get a first dashboard up and running without reading any instructions at all, just drag and drop. The other tools required much more time, effort and had a steep learning curve. For example, Qlikview’s 1000-page manual scared me off, plus it was clear that implementing it would have required bringing in a consultant and spending more time and resources than we wanted.
We now use Prism to deliver interactive reports and dashboards across alpharooms.com’s various functional units. We run a number of Elasticube datastores, currently handling about tens of millions of rows, until recently on one standard Windows 7 machine with 8GB of RAM. We have recently replaced our Reporting Server with a new server running Windows Server 2012 with 32GB of RAM, with SSD drives and have now moved our main Elasticubes over to this new server on one of the SSD drives. This was not due to any performance issues with Prism, it was just to centralise all business critical reporting.
We use Prism to analyse bookings activity from a number of different angles. One of the most valuable ways we’re using Prism is to discover opportunities for directly approaching hotels for which we have enough bookings – so that we can avoid the extra cost of going through wholesalers. We now have efficient reporting around each type of booking (hotel, flight, car, etc.) in a very easy, fast, do-it-yourself environment.
Other ways we use the software include analysing website usage patterns, optimizing email marketing campaign performance, optimizing purchasing strategies, tracking and analysing our multi-million pound Google Adword spend, tracking call centre performance and conversions by rep and running reports on all customer activity by search keywords, travel destination, common packages and so forth. We also use Prism to analyse our website content to identify missing or incomplete destinations so that the content team can fix them.
I'd say that the greatest benefits of SiSense Prism are usability, rapid time to insight, no need to read a manual or learn a lot, no requirement for outside consulting, low-IT overhead, very fast processing speed and low total cost of ownership.
I love the data hierarchies in Prism – it is extremely easy and flexible to drag and drop any fields you want without worrying about indexes or joins. One of the DBA’s, an expert in Microsoft BI tools and reporting services asked me why we needed a separate tool when we had the Microsoft stuff. I told him about a particular report that I needed and asked him how long it would take to create that with Microsoft’s tools. He said 4-5 days. I told him that I completed it with SiSense in less than two hours.