A subsidiary of Fortune Global 500 company Bertelsmann AG, German book publisher Verlagsgruppe Random House migrated its reporting solution to the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform. By doing so, it improved agility: users can instantly
build and consume reports and dashboards based on 300 gigabytes of data from disparate systems. The company has also increased efficiency, control, and collaboration.
Publisher Verlagsgruppe Random House operates more than 40 imprints that release more than 200 new books each month. The company is a subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG, an organization that in 2010 earned €15.8 billion (U.S.$22.4 billion) in revenue.
||With the Microsoft reporting solution, we have greater data access and flexibility so we can react to the market more quickly.
Chief Information Officer
Verlagsgruppe Random House
Before 2010, employees used a reporting tool known as GOVI to analyze product sales and help make marketing and disposition decisions. The tool had set Verlagsgruppe Random House apart from its competitors for many years. However, it could no longer support
the company’s requirements. “GOVI could only use a single source of data about book sales,” explains Jörg Warmer, Chief Information Officer at Verlagsgruppe Random House. “Today, there are dozens of data sources that can be used to help make better decisions.”
To work around this limitation, employees manually created reports—one-dimensional files created with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software—using data from GOVI and information from other data sources. Individuals then stored the files on personal desktop
computers. The data silos and the lack of standardized reports restricted information sharing, hindered insight, and slowed efficiency. “The previous reporting process was cumbersome and time-consuming to use,” explains Warmer. “As a result, we did not make
the most of information that was, theoretically, available.”
To address its challenges, the company decided to implement a comprehensive reporting solution that could simplify and control data access, streamline workflows, and increase data insight. The solution also needed to facilitate flexibility and serve as a
basis for other processes such as customer relationship management. “We wanted to invest in a new platform to build a base for the coming years,” says Warmer.
Early in 2010, Verlagsgruppe Random House engaged arvato Systems, a Bertelsmann subsidiary and Microsoft partner, to evaluate potential solutions and later, manage the implementation. The company reviewed numerous BI solutions including the Microsoft Business
Intelligence (BI) platform. As part of the evaluation process, engineers from arvato Systems worked with Microsoft Services consultants to build a solution prototype. “The collaboration between the companies in building the prototype was excellent and was
one of the deciding factors in our choice of implementing a Microsoft BI solution,” says Warmer. “Microsoft consultants helped address challenges related to early-release functionality and provided extensive knowledge transfer.”
Verlagsgruppe Random House also chose the Microsoft BI platform because it is easy to use and offers comprehensive features including custom reporting, dashboards, automated workflows, and a central portal to facilitate collaborative decision making.
To implement the BI solution, engineers set up a data warehouse that runs on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise data management software, the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise operating system, and three HP ProLiant DL580 G5 server computers. Engineers
used Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Integration Services to extract and transform 50 million data sets from disparate systems and load them into the data warehouse. Engineers also used Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services to create an online analytical
processing (OLAP) cube. Although users would soon be creating custom reports, engineers generated some initial standardized reports with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services.
To implement a central reporting portal, engineers deployed Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 on the new hardware. It gives users access to dashboards, standardized reports, and in-memory BI tools available with SharePoint Server and Excel 2010. For example,
users can build custom reports with the free-of-charge add-in Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel. In addition, engineers configured user access privileges to control information.
In February 2011, 15 employees began to use the initial BI solution, which includes 300 gigabytes of data. By January 2012, 100 employees used it. Eventually, 800 users will access BI with the new solution.
By migrating its reporting solution to the Microsoft BI platform, Verlagsgruppe Random House has improved efficiency and control; increased flexibility and agility; and simplified collaboration.
Improves Efficiency and Control
Today, employees can instantly access dashboards and reports on the centralized reporting portal. Users only access the information they are authorized to view based on predefined user access rights. Employees can also use Excel 2010, including PowerPivot
for Excel, to generate custom analysis and reports with data in multidimensional OLAP cubes. “Our Microsoft reporting solution is changing how employees work,” explains Warmer. “Dashboards give us a huge advantage: they ensure that everyone is focusing on
the relevant data for decision making.”
Increases Flexibility and Agility
Verlagsgruppe Random House has gained many new options, including the ability to perform multidimensional data analysis and data representation from a desktop computer or web browser. “The way we can consume and process data in Excel 2010 is excellent,”
notes Warmer. “We can quickly define and visualize what the important tasks are.”
Increased data transparency is fundamental to drive enterprise agility. “With the Microsoft reporting solution, we have comprehensive data access and flexibility so we can react to the market more quickly,” says Warmer.
Today, employees have one location to share reports and other data including templates. The company is also investigating how it can use SharePoint portals to set up internal team websites for each of its publishing houses. Warmer says, “SharePoint Server
2010 gives us a new way to organize tasks and information for our imprints.”
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