Western Alliance Bank Innovates with Oracle Cloud [Webinar Q&A]

In a recent Perficient webinar, How Western Alliance Bank is Innovating with Oracle Cloud, attendees were treated to not one, but two speakers from Western Alliance Bank! Andrew Boucher, vice president market risk management, and Valentino Hafalia, vice president of FP&A discussed the challenges with the legacy environment and benefits realized with consolidated analytics as well as the ability to trend KPIs. Mitch Campbell, Director Cloud Analytics at Oracle, wrapped up the presentation by taking an in-depth look at Oracle Analytics Cloud. This information packed on-demand event is available now for download, no registration required!

In this blog post, I’ll share a few questions asked by attendees and answered by Andrew as well as Mitch.

Which other tools did you consider when evaluating a business analytics platform?
[Andrew Boucher] We went through several months of looking at various vendors prior to picking BICS. Tableau was under serious consideration. You may have heard Val has a little background and is a fan of Tableau. We also had our in-house product SAS. It’s more of a statistical programming tool, good for statistical analysis, but not really for bridging disparate data sources. Tableau was a very good tool to use in that space and came in a very close second. We were actually going to look at Microsoft Power BI, but we were not on a platform that could run that right away. Those were the major tools. There were a few others that were in the box, but we didn’t end up seeing a demo.

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We chose Oracle largely because we were already on the cloud with Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) and when we spoke to Oracle about how much we could bridge that with the data we had in a multi-dimensional database and that we could merge with the data sources from the relational databases into the warehouse, BICS seemed to be the best solution for us.

Did you have KPIs documented when you set out to start the engagement?
[Andrew Boucher] With Perficient, yes. We worked with a proof of concept. We wanted to prove to our executives that this is something we should take a hard look at. The initial KPIs were everything that Val showed you, which is basically pricing. When we talk about banking, a lot of it is pricing. The earnings and pricing and yields we have on the assets that we own versus the liabilities that we pay on were key KPIs we wanted to do at the beginning of the engagement. Val was going through the top of the house profitability metric…Where do we earn money? How do we earn money? How efficient are we as far as expenses? That is our asset quality concern, basically the quality of the asset. How much could we actually lose in principal? Those KPIs we defined with Perficient.

Val has taken it to a different level with regard to the efficiency side – we started to bridge after the engagement. For the evaluation phase, one of the more interesting things we did was to present Perficient and a few other vendors with a set of data and graphical representations that we felt very comfortable with. They were very difficult waterfall and double bar line graphs and asked them if they could duplicate it in the BI tool.

We’re an existing Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) customer, can you describe the process to migrate from on-premises to Oracle Analytics Cloud?
[Mitch Campbell] There’s a phrase that hopefully you have heard before that we tend to discuss fairly frequently, which is simply known as ‘lift and shift.’ With the more recent releases of OBIEE, we started including the ability to ‘lift and shift’ everything from on-premises easily into the cloud with a BI archive file or BAR file. If you have a more recent version of Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI), chances are you are going to be able to take advantage of doing that quickly and easily. It might be as simple as getting a cloud instance operational, whether it’s a trial or you’ve purchased and you’re now provisioned and ready to get started. You can actually use that BAR file and simply import and it will take everything that you’ve designed not just the RPD, not just the on-premises OBIEE content, but also anything that’s in the catalogs, all the visualizations, all the charts and graphs and very quickly and easily move those directly to the cloud. The same can happen with Essbase applications. If you’re an Essbase user on-premises, you can lift and shift with a command line. Simply move your Essbase cubes directly to OAC Essbase Cloud. We’ve spent a lot of time doing that homework behind the scenes to make it an easy process and we’ve helped a lot of customers try that out as they’re starting to evaluate moving to the cloud.

Of course everyone’s data sets are individual and there may be certain things that you want to test and you’d leverage someone like Perficient to make sure you are managing the process of getting everything migrated efficiently and quickly, but we’ve made it easier than it ever has been before. I think that’s an area we feel strongly isn’t the hardest part.

I think people have a lot of heartburn from doing significant upgrades on-premises over the last 10-15 years. There’s usually a big sigh and a dread of relief that it took us 4-5 months. It’s simply not that hard in the cloud. Being able to move your content and getting back to tie out the numbers and seeing them in the cloud is much easier than it ever has been before. As Val mentioned, there are some really nice tools like Data Sync that if you want to set up new connections or go back to those other sources and maybe make additional data feeds into your system, it’s really easy to do that as well.

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Susan Welton

Susan Welton is a Senior Marketing Manager at Perficient.

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