April 12, 2018 · by: Osama Elkady · Blog
The Power of Incorta through a Fortune 10 Customer's Eyes: Q&A with Mohamed Dekhil, Ph.D
You may have seen our announcement in February that former Apple and Hewlett Packard product development leader Mohamed Dekhil, Ph.D. joined Incorta as vice president of engineering. We’re so excited to have Mohamed on the Incorta executive team and already are benefitting from his immense background in data analytics.
In addition to an impressive resume, Mohamed comes to Incorta with a very special perspective—he once was one of our customers!
In this blog, I tap into Mohamed’s unique perspective as a former Incorta customer to find out what only Incorta was able to provide to his organization, and how Incorta’s data-to-analytics platform delivered fast results for them.
Mohamed, thanks for sharing your customer perspective with us. To start, can you tell me about the business problem you wanted Incorta to help you solve?
Thanks, Osama! I’m excited to be here.
At my former company, we were rebuilding all our internal applications, and one of the biggest areas we used to struggle with was how to bridge the gap between operational reporting and analytics, and the insights business users wanted to receive.
A variety of reporting and analytics tools were used across the company, and that simply wasn’t working for us. For example, my analytics team used to build everything ourselves within the Java application, on top of a regular Oracle database. And that was no easy feat—it required a team of 6-8 developers to be dedicated to building, maintaining, and modifying the reports generated by this infrastructure—reports that used to take weeks to create in the first place. In addition, Business Objects was the company’s global reporting tool, and other departments also used other tools, such as Tableau. The biggest challenge with all these other tools was the time and complexity they required to manipulate and manage data. And all of that effort had to be repeated almost every time we need a new report.
We needed something that would make us agile, so that every time there’s a new question, we could answer it within only a day or two, not weeks or months. And none of these tools could do that for us. But Incorta could.
That’s great, that’s exactly why we started the company. Now, what exactly was it about Incorta’s approach that really caught your attention?
The most impressive part when we started evaluating Incorta was that we were able to set it up within our unique, custom environment and produce reports featuring our own data in only two days!
The second impressive part was the speed and performance—it was so impressive, in fact, that people thought we were showing them faked pre-reports! Even with large volumes of data—hundreds and thousands and millions of records—we could hardly believe the performance. That’s something we hadn’t seen before in any of the reporting tools we tried.
The last part that impressed us was Incorta’s direct mapping of data, which let us map our existing security and permissions—a very complex system dealing with employee data and customer data—directly into Incorta. That effort generated tremendous time savings for us.
I know that—despite how Incorta impressed you—moving ahead with Incorta wasn’t an easy decision for your former company’s management team. Can you tell us why that was and how you overcame it?
All in all, we couldn’t find anything else that close to what Incorta was able to do for us. Yet choosing Incorta as our solution was not an easy step forward for us. We were evaluating Incorta at a time when the product was very new on the market, so the company was much smaller and unknown to many of us. When you’re talking about very critical applications for a big company, relying on a small startup that hasn’t been known in that area for a long time is a big risk to take.
Through robust proofs of concept, however, we were able to build a business case that even the most reluctant senior executive couldn’t deny. The data simply spoke for itself. In terms of comparison, the set up, the performance, the capability we were getting, the security aspects—all of these made implementing Incorta a manageable risk we wanted to take.
Can you tell me how long it took you to deploy Incorta? And how much faster is the Incorta-powered analytics process than what you had before?
The actual development of the solution only took days. If there’s a new report we need to do, it takes probably 2-3 days to develop and test it. Then we can deploy it as soon as the business user validates the data and confirms what we delivered is what was requested.
The new process is day-and-night different from the old process. Before, we had to build these reports ourselves—and they were just tabular reports, with no drill-down—so even the most aggressive timelines still took 4-6 weeks. And even a small change required weeks of work.
Now, with Incorta, it only takes about four days.
One of the reasons we founded Incorta was to empower business users with stream-of-thought analysis and insights. What did Incorta enable your business users to do that they weren't able to do before?
Incorta enabled them to be free in terms of thinking about what else they would like to do or know.
Before, they’d have to plan months ahead of time about what analysis and insights they would need in the future. Now, they’re not afraid to think, they’re not afraid to explore and try—even if they don’t have their full requirements yet, they can try to run with it themselves, and then come back and ask us for modifications when they need help because they know it’s not going to take a lot of time for us to deliver what they need. And they can use Incorta for all of it—they don’t have to rely on other ad-hoc tools or Excel spreadsheets.
Can you share any hard numbers around the return-on-investment (ROI) or other financial benefits Incorta generated for your former company?
In terms of hard numbers, we went from needing eight full-time developers to maintain the whole solution and manage all of the requirements from the business to needing only two. So that’s a big savings.
The soft numbers are more from the business-user perspective. Before, business users spent hours running a report, with some of our complex reports taking 10-15 hours to run. With Incorta, those complex reports now run in only seconds, so it only takes a few minutes for business users to finish all of their reporting. That’s a huge and positive shift.
It definitely is. So how would you describe the role Incorta plays in your former company’s overall analytics environment? And do they still use a data warehouse?
Incorta is an essential part of its analytics infrastructure, with more and more departments starting to use or expanding their use of Incorta.
As far as a data warehouse goes, they do use Business Objects because that’s where most of the existing and legacy data is stored. So they still need to feed that data and continue to have that data feed. But those individuals and departments that use Incorta use only Incorta, and they rely on Incorta as their main reporting and analytics tool.
That’s excellent, exactly what we like to hear. Lastly, can you share your former company’s future plans for Incorta?
They plan to expand the use of Incorta beyond the reporting and operational side, to strategic reporting and machine learning. Predictive modeling is what the business is asking for now: How do we understand what we don’t see directly from these reports? How do we get the insights without spending time trying to go through the numbers ourselves? How do we leverage that insight to make the right decisions in our different operations?
They also may leverage Incorta as a quasi-data warehouse that becomes their core and main data store for all analytics around the company.
Thanks so much, Mohamed, and once again—welcome to Incorta!!
Find out more about Mohamed’s former company’s use of Incorta and the incredible business benefits they generated because of it—register for the upcoming Fortune 10 Company Bypasses Data Modeling to Deliver Complex Operational Reports in Only Seconds webinar.