Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tableau for Agile Oracle Essbase Financial Reporting

Oracle Hyperion Essbase is an established multidimensional database platform often used by accounting departments to model and store their company's financial data. Essbase comes with out of the box Oracle web reporting utilities to help you visualize your financials for management and also comes with integration with tools such as MS Office for reporting via Excel.

In the traditional desktop Excel world view, you end up passing around lots and lots of excel spreadsheets and statically built PDF reports around your organization and with your executives - a bit antiquated in this day and age to say the least. You will however find that Excel, to its credit, is commonly used to build fairly advanced reports with Essbase using home grown Excel and VB programming. But there has to be a better way that does not involve building complex data warehousing, ETL and using outdated BI visualization tools.

Now Tableau is a fast growing and popular visualization BI solution that enables business analysts (without advanced technical expertise) to perform data discover and build rich and sophisticated visualizations that can be more easily shared than traditional Excel spreadsheet sharing. Tableau has emerged as a powerful replacement for Excel based reporting and a challenger as well to the established enterprise BI platforms such as Microstrategy and Cognos to mention a few. Tableau fits well as an agile replacement for Excel reporting while allowing users to build very powerful next generation reporting and dashboards that outperform the traditional enterprise BI vendors in agility and visualization capabilities.

Tableau still has a way to go on the enterprise end, but it is coming on strong and if you know how to deploy and implement Tableau Server you can build highly agile and visually rich enterprise grade BI solutions. For financial reporting, Tableau allows you to take your legacy Essbase reports and spreadsheets out of the dungeon and into the light of day by allowing you to build sophisticated dashboards that can be easily accessible across your orgaization via Tableau Server by all your executives.

With Tableau you can just say no to having to build yet another data warehouse and complex ETL when architecting your business intelligence strategy. But be aware, Tableau can be used to extract data from Essbase directly using the built-in Tableau to Essbase connector, but say no to this approach. The Tableau Essbase connector will not work (needs another blog). We strongly suggest not using the Tableau Essbase cube connector for a number reasons (not all Tableau related). This connector has many challenges. A hint - extract your Essbase data using the Essbase Excel plugin and mix with a little ETL and output to denormalized flat data structures. Say what? Yes this approach rocks! Remember that Tableau is great at extracting dimensionality out of your data (that is one of its claims to fame actually).

At Grand Logic, we have developed an elegant and straight forward approach to extracting data from Oracle Essbase for agile and efficient consumption by Tableau. This in turn can be used to build advanced financial reports and dashboards without a huge investment in data warehousing and ETL processing. Our approach to integrating Tableau with Oracle Essbase leads to a powerful solution that will leave your executives wanting more and frees your accountants and financial analysts from building cumbersome to maintain Excel reports. Get your financial reporting and dashboarding in Tableau today for centralized access and in an environment governed by one version of the truth. Put actionable and insightful data in the hands of your executives.

Are you also looking to invest in Big Data infrastructure and analytics? Essbase does not have to be an isolated island of data divorced from your Big Data initiatives. Read more on how you can integrate Essbase data with your Big Data analytics.

Looking to get your Essbase cube into a Big Data lake? Learn more how you can integrate Essbase with Tableau and Apache Spark to supercharge your Tableau and Essbase connectivity.

Tableau and Essbase can be a great combination for building rich reporting and dashboards and without the overhead and complexity of traditional data warehousing and BI. Get your financial data out of Essbase and into Tableau and into the hands of our executives and decision makers. Contact Grand Logic to learn more.

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