ING turns to dashboard reporting

ING Australia, which formed a joint venture with the ANZ bank in 2002, has embarked on an ambitious data integration project that promises to deliver the company's first dashboard-style reporting solution and break down the data warehouse silos.

Adrian Mellish, ING Australia's manager of corporate and financial management information, said when he joined ING some 18 months ago IT was focused almost entirely on sales reporting, adding he thought it odd at the time that other KPIs, like financials, weren't being covered.

Both ING and ANZ had their legacy data warehouses which "each had their own issues", Mellish said during his presentation at this year's Business Objects user conference, Insight 2004 on Queensland's Gold Coast.

"Reports were being generated in Excel and printed off in PowerPoint. This is what I refer to as our forest of spreadsheets, literally hundreds of interlinked, multi-page spreadsheets," he said. "Going back to last year there were multiple sources of the truth. The accuracy of the data was highly questionable, the way it was brought together was dodgy, and different divisions had different numbers."

Mellish described his vision as "fairly straightforward" - a single source of the truth that would "at least stop people arguing about the numbers and start talking about what the numbers mean".

Having Web-based reports available on the intranet was also part of ING's roadmap so "anyone and everyone can see it".

ING then built a prototype database to experiment with and determine how to get all the reporting together.

"It wasn't built on the IT strategic development platform and it was the business building an IT system," Mellish said. "I'll be the first to say that the business shouldn't be building IT systems, but on the other hand if IT is so stuck in this methodology of 'you have to go through formal design', then maybe we need to do some [talking]."

After starting the deployment in January and moving into phase two of the dashboard project in March, the $38 billion funds manager is now producing "one set of numbers" and has documented the business rules as the project proceeded.

Mellish also got approval for a new Business Objects version six installation due to the difficulty in coordinating upgrades between departments.

"Dashboards are a key deliverable, particularly for maintaining the business buy-in and to keep the funding coming," he said. "It's a fairly traditional dashboard with dials and traffic lights. We can now measure money going out the door as well as coming in and alerts can also now be used."

With the business rules now understood, ING will go back to a data warehouse model and migrate from SQL Server to Oracle. The two heritage data warehouses will then be retired with the final target date set for August, 2005.

"We are now working with IT on this to make sure we build a proper warehouse," Mellish said. "The reporting model is simple - by month - and we are moving to weekly which will be a big step forward for us."

With the success of the sales dashboards, ING will now go ahead and extend this to a broader set of performance measures as well as across the other business units. This includes management of unstructured data, reports for IT systems, and human resources, Mellish said.

Rodney Gedda attended Insight 2004 as a guest of Business Objects.

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