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Operational vs. strategic reporting

03/05/2020

They may seem similar, but there is an important difference between operational and strategic business intelligence, especially with regard to ServiceNow. As a smart replication tool for ServiceNow data, SnowMirror supports both, of course, but we’d like to go into a bit more detail about these differences so that we can help your business get the most out of its valuable ITSM data.

This article from BI-Insider.com has a very good definition of both operational and strategic business intelligence. “In general, operational business intelligence provides time-sensitive, relevant information to operations managers, business professionals, and front-line, customer-facing employees to support daily work processes. Additionally if the data retrieved from the analysis directly supports or helps complete an operational tasks, then the intelligence is operational in nature,” the author writes.

On the other hand, according to BI-insider.com, strategic business intelligence “is often associated with reporting from an analytical data source, data mart, or data warehouse. Fundamentally, strategic business intelligence improves a business process by analyzing a predetermined set of metrics relevant to that process and provides historical context of data. In addition, strategic intelligence provides the basis for forecasting, goal-setting, and strategic planning and direction.”

While ServiceNow has embedded reporting capability native to the Now Platform and available to all products, to get strategic BI, data usually needs to be taken outside the platform where it was collected so that it can be analysed with specialised tools such as PowerBI or Tableau.

This is where SnowMirror comes in. SnowMirror replicates data from ServiceNow and Salesforce, making copies from the cloud on to a company’s own infrastructure, where it is stored in a data warehouse. From there it can be analysed by PowerBI, Tableau or any number of other BI tools.

Strategic BI is important to IT service management because it uses existing data to identify patterns, spot trends and make projections. In his article for the ITSM Tools website, Stephan Mann identifies several key capabilities that are made possible by strategic BI, such as “understanding how the IT ecosystem works in reality to identify which service levels can’t be consistently met, or conversely those that can never fail and are as such pretty useless as targets.”

Mann also argues that strategic BI can help to demonstrate how raising or lowering service levels will increase or decrease IT costs versus the change in business performance. “It could be an easy way to reduce IT costs with a minimal impact on business operations,” he writes.

This comes down to the kinds of problems your business needs to solve. Operational reports can provide a view to current performance related to KPIs. But strategic reports can help businesses set targets based on insights into historical data. Each has outputs that can be displayed in dashboards which are used by different stakeholders in the company - strategic data is used by senior teams to track key performance indicators on the strategy level and which present them the chance to take a specific course of action.

For example

For example, strategic data can be used in resource forecasting. Senior IT managers can gain insights into which resources will be needed in the near and distant future based on IT strategies and corporate plans. The data could help managers with tasks ranging from deciding on when staff should take vacations to identifying optimum training days. It can also help to identify the tasks that are the most expensive for an organisation, or to benchmark which departments are adopting best practices and where efficiencies in other teams can be made.

Whether your needs are for operational or strategic reporting, SnowMirror can help. SnowMirror has been developed based on feedback from hundreds of leading companies worldwide and provides smart data replication from the cloud to your company’s infrastructure, where you can use the strategic BI tools of your choice - including PowerBI, Tableau, SAP Business Objects BI, Qlik and many more. 

If you’d like to to talk with us about how SnowMirror can help your business get the most out of ServiceNow, get in touch here.

 

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