Microsoft

A Partnership Between Neal Analytics and Motifworks

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions, helping people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft needed a way to unlock a massive quantity of unconnected and unstructured data and bring it together in a compelling, easy-to-consume platform. Motifworks, partnered with Neal Analytics, a business intelligence and analytics company based in Seattle, WA, to enable Microsoft’s line of business (LOB) teams to leverage their data sources and put them into a format that enabled them to gain smart insights and analysis to drive their strategic imperatives.

Business Challenges for Microsoft

Microsoft line of business (LOB) managers faced a near universal business conundrum in today’s connected world: they had too much information and data pouring in on all aspects of the company’s products and product development processes. Yet, they didn’t have any substantive insight into that information and data, and in turn, had no good way to ensure optimal strategic decision-making.
Microsoft needed a way to unlock this store of unconnected and unstructured data and bring it all together in a compelling, easy-to consume, platform. Their objective, ultimately, was to enable their LOB teams to leverage all of their data sources and put them into a format that enabled them to gain smart insights and analysis to drive their strategic imperatives.
To address their unique information challenge, Microsoft LOB managers partnered with two companies – Neal Analytics and Motifworks – to develop a custom business intelligence architecture for Microsoft’s unique needs. “Microsoft had a very common challenge before its LOB managers,” says Dylan Dias, President of Neal Analytics, a business intelligence and analytics company based in Seattle, WA. “They had plenty of data sets, lots of cubes and data warehouses. But they really had a difficult time assembling the data in a smart, cohesive manner. They needed a way to understand what the data was saying about their business units.”

The Problem

“They had plenty of data sets, lots of cubes and data warehouses. But they really had a difficult time assembling the data in a smart, cohesive manner. They needed a way to understand what the data was saying about their business units.”

The Approach and Solution

With Neal Analytics’ analytical capabilities and Motifworks’ technical expertise in product development and data analytics, Microsoft was able to improve their decision making capacity. “Microsoft didn’t come to us and say ‘we want this,’” says Dylan. “It was more along the lines of their saying they had an information challenge and they needed us to establish the technical parameters to address the problem.” So, Neal Analytics and Motifworks built a BI system, comprised of Microsoft’s existing BI stack, including SQL server integration services (SSIS), SQL server analysis servers (SSAS), Silverlight and SharePoint.
“Motifworks had the requisite knowledge and flexibility to move between the various pieces of the stack and to serve as an advisor to both Neal Analytics and Microsoft. Motifworks quickly sized up the business problem and were nimble in executing a fast sprint for Microsoft – and we were able to meet their aggressive delivery expectations,” says Dylan.
The newly built BI system now allows Microsoft LOB managers to be more efficient in gathering and converting information and data into insights. They’re also able to reduce the workflow involved in compiling their information and data, leading to a 75% savings in time spent each day on this task. Traditionally, Microsoft’s LOB managers tend to focus more on their specific business challenges and not necessarily their products’ technological issues. “These tech challenges require specialized skills and that’s where my firm and Motifworks provide expertise to frame the business problem, design an approach to solve the business problem and then deliver the bits to build it for our customer,” says Dylan. Dylan adds that Microsoft’s LOB managers are noted for their broad skill sets in relation to managing their business units. “They have to understand every facet of information collection, retrieval, processing and interpretation. That’s quite a wide workflow – so Motifworks and my firm add key technical skills allowing them to focus on doing their day jobs and have better, more usable information presented for their decision-making needs,” he added.

Benefits of Partnering with Motifworks

In serving Microsoft’s complex information challenge, Dylan says his ability to meet and exceed Microsoft’s project expectations were due to his partnership with Motifworks. “I use many adjectives in describing my work relationship with Motifworks. The Motifworks team is nimble, they‘re creative with their approaches and they fight through ambiguity,” says Dylan. “They’re also very fast. Our work together tends to be more in short bursts and sprints. We can easily be working on something in one project and have something else going on in another project. Motifworks is able to deliver to tight deadlines and quick turnaround times.”

The Challenges

  • Microsoft LOB managers were deluged by unstructured data
  • No way to collect and analyze disparate data
  • Inability for managers to make data-based decisions
  • Information challenge required specialized tech expertise

The Results

  • New BI system improved data collection and analysis
  • Significant time-savings up to 75% in data analytics workflow
  • Microsoft LOB managers make smarter data-based decisions
  • Nimble, fast project delivery exceeded Microsoft’s expectations