Case Study: Cantor Fitzgerald
Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s pre-eminent capital markets investment banks, relies heavily on information for managing their varied and widespread operations and, as a result, had acquired a number of tools in an attempt to stay on top of their growing data resources. The large number of tools created confusion for users, required an increased training effort, and resulted in sub-optimal user productivity. After an evaluation of their needs, Cantor Fitzgerald chose the Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System as their reporting and analysis platform. As a result, they have reduced the costs associated with multiple tools while increasing user productivity by saving an estimated 25 man-days each month during the critical closing process.
Cantor Fitzgerald had slowly amassed a high number of single-purpose products to analyze and report from their data sources, including but not limited to:
- Hyperion Reports
- Hyperion Web Analysis
- Temtec Executive Viewer
- Multiple SQL query tools
The use of multiple products caused significant problems for the company, most notably:
- Confusion over which product to use for specific tasks
- Each product required trained support to maintain applications
- End users needed to be trained on many different products
The result was excessive time and money spent on training end users, an overall lack of user proficiency, the potential for a significant loss of data integrity, and too much time spent gathering data. Cantor Fitzgerald resorted to using the classic Essbase add-in for Excel for most of its analytics, planning, and reporting.
Applied OLAP evaluated Cantor Fitzgerald’s user interface options and identified three must-have features:
- Ability to use established business rules and processes
- Single user interface in order to gain proficiency
- Excel functionality and development environment
Cantor Fitzgerald management wanted to keep many of the best-practice business processes they had developed to implement a software solution. Many software solutions bill themselves as best-practice solutions when, in reality, their concept of best-practice is a marketing term coined to cover for the inflexible nature of the software. An important evaluation criterion for Cantor Fitzgerald was to determine if the potential solution supported company best-practices.
The company wanted to streamline operations and find a single product capable of delivering maximum functionality, reduce training requirements and promote proficiency. The single product needed the functionality to be a one-stop-shop for accessing reports, performing analysis, and drilling down into the detailed transactions underlying the data.
Like most companies, the user community depended heavily on the flexibility and computational power of Excel, but getting data into – and out of – the spreadsheet was both time-consuming and dependent on the skills of the individual Excel user. Employees used spreadsheets daily because of the ability to use formulas and formatting, along with multi-tabbed workbooks, to add value in their Essbase databases and create the analyses they needed.
Cantor chose the Dodeca Spreadsheet Management System for a number of reasons including performance, consistency, security and flexibility. Cantor Fitzgerald makes heavy use of Oracle Essbase for analysis during their month-end close process for both financial analysts and financial executives alike. Cantor’s spreadsheets are typically quite large. Dodeca’s speed was a very important feature for their users. Dodeca’s managed spreadsheet templates provide Cantor analysts with a consistent starting point for their analyses each month, improving and increasing user productivity while ensuring data integrity. The spreadsheet functionality of Dodeca also provided the necessary flexibility required to produce complex spreadsheets used on a monthly basis.
By implementing Dodeca, Applied OLAP was able to eliminate Cantor Fitzgerald reliance on multiple reporting tools, reduce software maintenance, internal server infrastructure, support, and training costs, and improve productivity while enhancing the ability to manage their business. Dodeca enabled users to explore their data drill-through from high-level summary data down to transaction level detail in a single click, reducing the time it took to look at general ledger details by 97%. The ability to so easily view transaction details leads to a deeper understanding of the meaning of those numbers, increasing the analytic value and reducing overall company risk.
When considering drill-through and other efficiencies gained with Dodeca, employees in the Cantor Fitzgerald finance department reported a time savings averaging one man-day per person per month, for a company-wide savings estimated at 25 man-days per month. The time savings realized were reinvested in the deeper analytics required in today’s regulatory environment without the need to add to company headcount.