Choosing a cloud-based BI solution
Until recently, Sierra Pacific Mortgage struggled with an inflexible BI solution that was difficult to use and required technical programming every time the business requested a different way to look at the data. Nor did it supply the requisite level of detail needed to analyze productivity and sales data from the organization’s eight regional centers throughout the United States. “It was only after one of our employees brought the Mortgage BI solution from Access Business Technologies [ABT] to the attention of senior management that we realized there was a whole other way of doing BI on the Microsoft cloud,” says Gary Clark, Chief Operating Officer at Sierra Pacific Mortgage. “Fast forward a few months, and I’m sitting at a meeting when an issue came up. I launched Mortgage BI on my iPhone, identified the problem, retrieved the data I needed, and fixed it right then and there.”
It didn’t take long for Sierra Pacific Mortgage to decide on deploying the MortgageWorkSpace Suite, a cloud-based workspace offered by ABT for mortgage professionals that runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing environment. A component of the suite, Mortgage BI uses Azure Power BI Embedded to provide cloud-based business analytics. Sierra Pacific Mortgage uses this service to monitor the health of its mortgage business through live, interactive dashboards.
“The advantage of using the open APIs of the Microsoft Power BI service is that our programmers can leverage the excellent work that Microsoft has achieved with Power BI,” says Justin Kirsch, President and Founder of Access Business Technologies. “So, with Mortgage BI, we tailored a business analytics solution to the mortgage industry that’s flexible enough for customers to use as a basis for their own BI requirements.”
Mortgage BI also takes advantage of Azure SQL Database, a managed relational database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse, an elastic data warehouse, to store Sierra Pacific Mortgage business data.
“We were impressed with how far Microsoft has evolved its Power BI solution over the past two years, with continual updates,” adds Connell. “We felt like we were investing in a product that was going to be a sustainable industry leader. Even with our highly regulated environment, we have every confidence that the Microsoft Cloud platform matches our security requirements.”
Sierra Pacific Mortgage had already deployed Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based business productivity services and so took advantage of bundling the licenses into a cost-effective solution. “Mortgage BI answered our criteria for a flexible, user-friendly solution that we could scale to bring in different data sources without reworking our existing data set,” says Doug Swank, IT Senior Business Analyst at Sierra Pacific Mortgage. “Now when we make a change to one report, it automatically flows through to all the other reports. And of course, the cloud aspect reduces maintenance overhead and simplifies IT, so we can focus on more strategic projects for the business.”
ABT deployed the bulk of the business intelligence platform for Sierra Pacific Mortgage in less than 60 days, in time for its unveiling at a regional managers’ conference in October 2016. “Because we are part of the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program, it simplifies the entire customer relationship so we can focus on a fast deployment,” says Kirsch. “At the conference, managers were already logging in to the solution to check their sales pipelines.”