finance it team discussing data warehouse

As you’ve seen in some of our previous articles about the financial services industry, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to enable financial services firms to gain new customers and provide accurate investment advice.  What matters most, though, is that the technology powering all the fund transactions, client correspondence, market analytics, and sales strategies remains reliable and responsive on a daily basis.

This means the IT department is a critical linchpin at a financial institution that must govern all elements of its infrastructure and plan activities in the way that most efficiently supports business needs. For this reason, Ironside is currently helping a major investment advisory firm’s IT team to track and balance these priorities using an information management solution powerful enough to process and prioritize the many technologies and demands they needed to navigate: the data warehouse.

Client Information

Industry: Financial Services

Size: >10000 employees; >$1 billion in revenue

Areas of Engagement: Information Management, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management

The Challenge

The client’s IT group was struggling to keep their governance and planning efforts moving at the pace of business. They had taken steps to centralize the many data sources they needed to deal with and get the ball rolling toward accurate, actionable reporting on those assets, but their infrastructure was becoming outdated and was no longer capable of managing the increased information demands the team was seeing or integrating effectively with their business intelligence (BI) reporting processes. They engaged with Ironside to move their existing data warehouse to a more modern solution that would address three key department goals:

  • Move warehousing infrastructure out of the current obsolete environment.
  • Store historical point-in-time data for more accurate referencing of past events.
  • Address the pain points occurring between the data warehouse and the Cognos BI reporting layer, increasing query efficiency and enabling more timely analytics.

The Journey

The Ironside Information Management team signed on to work hand in hand with the client’s database engineers to transition to a modern data warehouse. Through discovery conversations with IT leadership, the Ironside resources assigned to the project outlined a full-scale migration and redesign plan that would bring approximately 20 tables from an array of data sources, including TM1, A-Track, Remedy, Oracle GL, and Excel, into an IBM PureData for Analytics (Netezza) implementation capable of meeting and exceeding the client’s requirements. As part of the migration, Ironside was also assigned to reengineer both the ETL processes used to move and transform all the different information streams and the reporting layer making that information available for analysis.

This project is still underway, and Ironside has completed several phases so far:

  • Collected requirements and use cases for the new data warehouse.
  • Documented the existing warehouse logic, including all data extracts, transformations, schedules, etc.
  • Served as the solution architect for a proof of concept of the data warehouse redesign
  • Worked with the client’s database engineers to set specifications for new ETL workflows to feed the POC design.
  • Rebuilt the reporting layer to work seamlessly with the new environment.
  • Tested data handling and report output using the POC system.

The Results

The initial findings coming out of the concepting and testing phases of the project are very promising, and Ironside’s team is confident that the final solution will deliver the modern data handling functionality that the client needs to continue their success. These encouraging results include:

  • Improved ease of use and performance in Cognos reporting.
  • Enablement of time comparison reporting, such as evaluating what the data looked like last month versus the present day.
  • A performance increase approximately 60 times faster than what was possible with the previous environment was observed during testing. Report outputs that used to take around 2 minutes to run are now taking around 2 seconds.

Using this compelling proof of concept as a springboard, Ironside and the client are now making adjustments and preparing to roll out the full-scale data warehouse solution. With this level of data performance at their disposal, the IT team will easily be able to meet the stringent demands of the financial services industry and deliver the kinds of answers that will drive the business forward.
If you’d like to learn more about the data warehousing options available in the marketplace and start figuring out which path is right for your organization, check out our recent recorded webinar in which infrastructure experts Geoff Speare and Erik Romanek discuss the possibilities. You can also feel free to reach out to us directly if you’d like to see what we can do to enable your data warehouse. We’d be happy to help you evolve your information management approach.

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