Published on the 11/06/2010 | Written by Microsoft
BNZ wanted to find a better way to analyze monthly data that is used to provide management information to its branches across New Zealand…
The bank found a solution using the business intelligence (BI) tools supported by Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, including Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel and Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft SharePoint. With the self-service BI tools, BNZ expects to simplify and accelerate the delivery of information to branches while allowing its BI department to manage the distribution and publication of information with greater efficiency.
BNZ is one of the largest and oldest banks in New Zealand. Founded in 1861, BNZ operates 180 branches that provide banking services such as checking accounts, credit cards, and home loans. BNZ, which is a subsidiary of the National Australia Bank Group, also offers a full suite of insurance services and provides financial services to commercial and agricultural businesses.
The Business Intelligence Centre of Excellence at BNZ provides vital data, including performance management reporting. Local branch managers receive monthly profit-and-loss statements and other financial information so they can compare their branch performance against targeted goals.
National Australia Bank used to provide this information, but in 2005 BNZ took over the process to speed up the delivery of data. For about four years, BNZ used features of the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software, including SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, to deliver information to branches.
Employees also relied on various tools to analyze data, including Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet software, Microsoft Office Access database software, and SAP BusinessObjects.
As the bank continued to grow, the tools used for delivering and analyzing monthly business intelligence (BI) became inadequate. “Network performance suffered because of the sheer volume of information,” says Shawn Lewis, Data Architecture Manager for Business Intelligence in the Finance Department of BNZ.
The different software programs used by employees for analysis created more problems. John Andrews, Project Manager for Business Intelligence in the BNZ Finance Department, says, “The data analysis tools were quite fragmented and they created manual, time-consuming processes. We needed unified tools that could provide better self-service business intelligence capabilities to our employees.”
The BNZ BI Centre of Excellence decided to run a pilot program to test the new business intelligence functionality of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, including its support for Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel and SQL Server PowerPivot for Microsoft SharePoint. PowerPivot for Excel makes it possible for users to perform BI tasks on hundreds of millions of rows of data using Microsoft Excel 2010, which is part of Microsoft Office 2010 Professional.
BNZ plans to deploy Excel 2010 in the Finance Department in late 2010.
BNZ also plans to implement Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2010 as part of the overall solution. This will let employees use PowerPivot for SharePoint. Users will be able to share and collaborate on their analysis by publishing it directly on the intranet; automated feeds from BNZ core systems will update information at specified intervals. By using these tools, IT administrators can carefully manage the distribution of information.
The bank began testing a beta version of SQL Server 2008 R2 in late 2009, with 10 employees, including IT staff and finance analysts, participating in the pilot. They are focusing on streamlining the reconciliation process, in which data feeds from several sources—Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases, an SAP data warehouse, and transactional banking systems—are imported into Excel 2010. Users work with an average of 5 million records a month.
The powerful BI tools supported by SQL Server 2008 R2 are expected to improve vital business processes for BNZ. With the self-service BI functionality provided through SQL Server 2008 R2 and the PowerPivot tools, bank employees will be able to do much more of their own analysis. The BI tools will deliver more detailed information, helping to uncover data that may have been overlooked in the past.
The technology is also expected to make information easily accessible to more employees, which will lead to greater collaboration across the bank.
Delivers managed, self-service BI
PowerPivot for Excel will provide powerful data analysis functionality inside the familiar spreadsheet software that BNZ employees use every day. It will also help to reduce or completely eliminate the manual processes involved in moving data back and forth between various applications used for analysis.
Additionally, IT managers have access to tools that they can use to carefully manage how data is distributed and who can access it. “The BI capabilities of SQL Server 2008 R2 are a huge step beyond what has been traditionally used in the bank. We have already identified several key areas where we can empower BNZ employees with self-service business intelligence,” says Lewis. “It also relieves branch staff and other subject matter experts from having to rely on the BI department for information.”
Provides more detailed information
With the new BI functionality in SQL Server 2008 R2, BNZ employees can discover much more data than in the past.
“With PowerPivot for Excel, I can import very large data sets from different sources and start analyzing information immediately—there is no need for coding or technical knowledge to make it work,” says Andrews.
“The PowerPivot tools help to expose more data than what was available before, which greatly enhances the level of business intelligence that executives can use to make important decisions.”
Improves data delivery
Ken Christie, Chief Financial Officer for BNZ, says he expects that the SQL Server 2008 R2 technology will spread beyond the Finance Department. “SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel aligns well with our strategy of empowering bank staff with pervasive business intelligence,” Christie says.
“Eventually we’ll promote the new SQL Server BI capabilities, to a much wider audience. The BI capabilities of SQL Server 2008 R2 are a big step forward, and we know that many departments can benefit from the insights gained by using the PowerPivot tools.”
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