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Seven Considerations for Agile Business Intelligence Platform Migration

Norbert Havas

Director, Enterprise Analytics Consulting

Szilveszter Molnar

Senior Client Engagement Manager
Blog

As business intelligence (BI) has evolved over time, companies have invested significantly in various BI applications and partnered with different vendors to stay relevant, resulting in a complex, widely connected and co-dependent network of big data applications. With new technologies emerging, existing infrastructures that were built years ago are reaching the end of their lifecycle and are now classified as legacy systems. Cloud computing and machine learning have gained traction in the market, along with initiatives like integrating self-service analytics programs into organizations’ BI ecosystems. Now more than ever, companies must redefine their BI strategy to keep pace with digital transformation.

BI app migration is a critical element to consider when investing in improvements in the BI landscape to futureproof the data needs of the business. The most typical use cases include:

  • Migrating from legacy BI platforms to the latest wave of analytics platforms
  • Migrating from one BI/ETL platform to another
  • Migrating to an upgraded version of an existing BI platform
How to Navigate the Migration Journey

Consolidation & Simplification Should Be Considered
Before starting migration, the current system should be evaluated to ensure the functionality and user requirements will be met with the new ecosystem. For example, a simple lift-and-shift approach that migrates reports in a one-to-one fashion is unlikely to bring much value to the organization. Reports must be analyzed, consolidated and simplified wherever possible. Understanding the business value on a project level will justify the project cost and is essential for achieving a great ROI. 

Migration Requires Careful Planning
Businesses also need to be able to articulate project success criteria and thoughtfully determine the steps and decisions regarding migration. Various aspects need to be considered, such as the teams involved, business continuity, multiple environments and more. Without having a comprehensive strategy and a well-prepared roadmap, it’s unlikely your businesses will reach its desired outcome. 

Migrating Promptly & Cost-Effectively
Often companies do not take the time needed to consider market options as they are more focused on migrating quickly. It’s important to balance finding the best migration approach with time-to-market and consider special requirements or legacy platform customizations needed for your business to be successful. Strict timeframe boundaries, achieving a good cost-per-value ratio and cost-efficient migration all tend to put additional pressure on the project.

Developing a Data Structure to Ensure a Holistic Reporting Model
For organizations who have built up a large quantity of BI applications over time, some applications have been installed on the same platform or with different versions, or often applications have been spread across different platforms. Additionally, as companies build up their capabilities, the same type of data might be represented in different places, and documentation for the data schema is usually missing, making information hard to find. In many cases, BI reports and dashboards are duplicated and unused due to disparate data or because they are difficult to navigate. These challenges result in insights being scattered across the organization, which provides a siloed view of the company. A consistent, well-developed data structure that serves users the best is critical.

Data Security & Existing Operations Must Be Ensured
Migration may take several months — or even years in some cases — and since accessing production data during the re-platforming project is indispensable for the business, the development team needs to confirm that the migration will not cause any issues with operating cycles. Furthermore, data security needs to be ensured along the way. 

Human Factors to Consider
Migration cannot be deemed as an IT-only project; human-centered design and user experience factors should be considered as well. End-user education, change management and sometimes realignment of business processes will be needed to ensure success. Adopting a ‘consolidate and catalogue while transitioning’ approach ensures that user adoption and system performance are not last-minute considerations, but rather creates value by building knowledge to enable self-service efforts. 

A Good Test Strategy is Key to Success
Finally, validation is a key step in the migration project. Reports and the underlying data need to verify that they match their intended business value, determined at the beginning of the process, and a comprehensive test strategy needs to be in place. 

Wrapping Up

Navigating the challenges throughout the BI migration project can be demanding, but collaborating with a technology partner can certainly help you along the way. By leveraging past migration experience and big data expertise, the technology partner can provide a robust quality control framework that is key to the project success. Partners can also help ensure that other vital aspects aside from the technical migration considerations — such as user adoption and solution integration — are not overlooked while enabling automation.

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