Knowing what's going on – data analysis provides the basis for safe decisions

Today's  business processes of all kinds produce data at every turn – whether it’s entered by humans or generated by applications and machines. Data controls and drives business processes in administration, production, logistics and more.

Collecting and utilizing data increasingly applies to printing companies, too. Information about jobs, production and finishing, as well as details pertaining to any changes or problems with a job and much more, is all recorded either manually or automatically by exchanging information between applications and machines. And with every order, this data pool continues to grow. “Big Data” has become a big deal in the today’s digital business world.

A ‘Single Point of Truth’

Keyline’s printing business management software acts as a central data hub across all stages of the value chain in printing plants, making Keyline the “single point of truth” where all of the data on business and production processes is available. Having a single point of truth is an enormous advantage in the day-to-day processing of jobs – everyone in the company is always and everywhere in the loop on the status of every single print job.

In the age of data-driven workflows, data has not only become an important production factor of high economic value. Properly analyzed, it is the basis for strategic decisions that determine a company’s sustained success.

Recognizing the value of the data

More and more printing companies are recognizing the value of their data inventories. We are repeatedly asked how the high-quality data available in Keyline can be analyzed either to optimize costing or processes, or for targeted marketing campaigns.

Within the user interface, Keyline itself offers to options for various statistics over user-defined periods of time – including evaluations on customer and product level. In addition, Keyline’s live dashboard monitors the current workload and production planning. Furthermore, reports on sales and production can be exported in Excel format. These functions provide an overview, primarily of the current business.

In-depth analysis as a basis for making reliable decisions
The data collected in Keyline also allows much deeper analysis, however. For example:

  • How many and which print jobs were produced on a particular machine?

  • How many print jobs had problems with the print data submitted by the customer?

  • How has the demand for individual types of binding developed? 

The answers to such questions can provide valuable insights for making important strategic decisions, such as, does it make sense to purchase a particular machine or can the future workload still be handled with the current machinery through smart planning?

Keyline offers two options for such detailed analysis. In each case it is about preparing data for analysis, developing and executing queries, and presenting the results in a visual form.

Option 1: Almost all of the data available in Keyline can be accessed via interfaces using the Keyline API. This allows developers and programming-savvy printers to obtain data and evaluate it through self-written programs.

Starting with "Business Intelligence"

But what if no programming expertise or resources are available and you still want to analyze the rich data treasure? This is where "business intelligence" solutions come into play.

One such solution is Power BI from Microsoft, which is available for Windows as a standard software license and is also offered as a SaaS service in the Cloud. Mobile apps for iOS and Android are also available.

If you are already familiar with Microsoft Excel, you will quickly get up to speed with Power BI. Just connect the application to a data source locally or in the Cloud and formulate the query, and you can start analyzing immediately. A subset of Power BI functions also is available in the Windows version of Excel with Power Pivot.

Tableau, another leading business intelligence solution, extends beyond the functional scope of Power BI with the option of monitoring the performance of the company on the basis of specific performance indicators (key performance indicators, or KPI, for example). The additional power of Tableau compared with Power BI is reflected in the pricing.

Keyline Apps for Power BI and Tableau

Keyline offers interfaces for Power BI, as well as for Tableau apps. With these apps, data is extracted from Keyline and stored in an SQL database. Power BI and Tableau can then access this database as part of the defined analysis.

The connection between Keyline and the database is maintained so that the data can be updated at regular intervals. This means that once defined, the evaluations are based on current data.

Although a fair amount of time will invariably be required to become familiar with the use of such business intelligence solutions, you'll quickly discover that this new world of numbers will reward your efforts with deep insights into the performance of your processes – intelligence that you need to make well-founded decisions for the future of your company.