The Death of Business Intelligence

Financial Consolidation software: The Binoculars of the Corporate World

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile Business Intelligence by errahseno on March 18, 2014

The Chief financial officer and his team are bombarded with overflowing huge amounts of data every day. It is not a bank of data resources that is question rather a question of how well the team can convert all these data into valuable information able to run the business and drive maximized profit.

While it may seem fairly easy for smaller companies, this is not the same case for a bigger, widely distributed multinational company. The daunting tasks of having to collate the profit and loss reports from varying locations, to consolidate these reports, and contrast it against the corporate budget is just a bird´s eye view of what they have to battle with.

Imagine what it feels like for these teams during month-end reporting. Just moving the entries from being just operational to now analytic is a challenge by itself. As if the challenge is not enough imagine reconciling the ledgers.

Without any doubt, the system of guessing and crossing fingers just cannot do the trick anymore if the company wants to stay afloat in the industry and even more so, if the company has high ambitions of aggressive corporate growth. The home-grown make-do financial systems of companies which used to suffice cannot even be relied on anymore.

There needs to be improved visibility on what drives the inflow of money for the company and what drives its losses. There needs to be an improved ability to see where the money should go and where it should not. A tool which can be used to have a closer look at the real numbers, turn these numbers into analytic information, and these information into concrete business decisions.

Does my tool help me see things clearly?

There are disparate notions about what makes up good financial software but when searching for a new financial consolidation tool, there are certain things that are non-negotiable. Here are 3 of the most important features, you need to look for:

1.       User-friendliness

This is always an overly claimed and promised feature by many software-providers but very few of the choices of software out there actually are. In choosing financial consolidation software, people tend to forget that ease in setting it up and maintaining the tool is just as important as what it can do. The tool must be easy enough for the team to be handled but robust enough for the tool to handle all of the demands of consolidation.

2.       Intelligent, Real-time Functionality

Can your tool keep up with the modern complexity of your corporate structures and hierarchies while making sure it can handle varying currencies and several account policies? Is it intelligent and quick enough to allow you to view certain financial impacts of certain types of changes in the organization? Can it keep up with the dynamism of your business? Do you have instant access to transaction systems?

3.       Rigid Control

The integrity of the numbers you produce in the end is the most important factor you must consider. Does your financial consolidation tool provide you features that ensure the process is tightly regulated minimizing risks? Do you get reasonable numbers out of it?

If you are not convinced by the tool you are using or the tool you are considering, it sounds logical and reasonable to reassess your options, think about your predefined financial structures and goals, and how this tool can leverage you towards fulfilling those goals. The financial software consolidation tool is after all, your binoculars to the future.

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BI 2014: Who will be the big players in the new year?

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on February 3, 2014

In 2013, companies in the BI sector enjoyed a mixed bag of fortunes, with growth being spread across a number of different sizes of firms, but mostly being focussed on the smaller ones which could afford to offer the bespoke sorts of solutions that companies are looking for.

What companies will do well?

In 2014, the buzzword will be for usable BI solutions, and this is shown in the predictions for the company that will be the biggest winner in 2014, according to Information Week.

It said that Tableau, which creates data-visualization software that has a reputation for being easy to use will see a large level of growth in 2014. Six per cent of companies are expecting to use it next year.

On the other hand, companies like Actuate, IBM Cognos, and MicroStrategy, which provide more traditional BI, are expected to experience falls.

BI overview 2014

The sector as a whole will do well in 2014. This might seem like a bold prediction, but there is some firm grounding behind the belief that 2014 can be a good year for the business intelligence sector.

Businesses in general will be looking to grow all across the world as economic uncertainty starts to become a thing of the past, and more and more firms are able to grow.

In the UK, for example, economic growth experienced in 2013, which amounted to 1.4 per cent, is set to be built on. It is predicted that 2014 will see the UK experiencing a level of growth of around 2.4 per cent.

What this will mean is that companies will attempt to grow. To do this, they will need to be able to make important business decisions, and this is something they will need BI for. Even in a growing economy, it is vital to be ahead of the competition, and this will leave those working in business intelligence, as well as their products, in high demand.

Business plans

So looking forward, what should companies in the BI sector be looking to do to make sure that they enjoy a strong 2014?

The answers are quite straightforward actually. It is all about providing something that companies not only need, but what they specifically ask for. Bespoke solutions will be more important than ever in 2014, with businesses looking for things that relate specifically to them and the industry that they are operating in.

In addition to this, it will be about giving power back to firms themselves. Companies will want to use certain aspects of BI, but many will not invest if they feel they are being coerced into taking ownership of a whole strategy, instead preferring to just pick and choose certain elements.

It will be those firms who realise this and allow it to happen that will flourish throughout the year. Self service BI has already become a highly-demanded solution among those in business, and the companies that can provide a “create your own” BI software will be those that do best.

Finally, the age of the non-IT BI specialist is about to descend. Decision makers want to have a hand in BI now more than ever, so companies that provide them with a user friendly option for those without the technical nous will be the ones that perform best.

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BI 2013: How did the market fare?

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on January 22, 2014

Business intelligence (BI) is a term that has been on the lips of many businesses and their owners the last year, with companies looking to find solutions that make decisions that little bit easier. It has seemed that uptake of the strategy and software has been picking up pace throughout the year, but just how did 2013 treat the BI industry?

Overview

In general, the BI market last year was relatively strong without setting the heather on fire. Growth might not have reached peak levels, but they have been far better than at other times and other sectors across this year.

According to one expert, it has been very middling, with the chief executive officer saying: “I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse.”

Uptake in general has been good, but it has failed to reach the 40 per cent growth levels that were experienced back in the mid-90s. However, it is important to note that at this time the market was still new and exciting and it was being brought into firms for the first time.

On the other hand, though, the market has not hit its lowest ebb either. This was experienced in 2008, when growth levels were hammered by the worldwide recession. Companies paring back what they offered meant that growth sat at just two per cent throughout that year.

This is no bad thing though. While other sectors across the globe have seen revenues dropping and have had to make cutbacks, the fact that BI has continued to grow can only be seen as being a good thing for the sector overall, leaving good prospects on the cards for 2014 and beyond.

A tale of two sizes

In 2014, it has been about different types of BI, and growth in the two can be compared on one simple scale – size. While large companies have continued to grow throughout the year, it has been those smaller firms that have enjoyed the best levels of improvement in 2013.

Large BI providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have enjoyed a growth level that has sat at just single-digit improvements in terms of revenue, but it has been a different story further down the ladder.

According to Condi Howson at Information Week, some smaller firms have performed so strongly that many even nearly doubled their revenues throughout the year.

One such company was Tableau, which saw its revenue figures jump by 75 per cent throughout the year 2013. Other companies that enjoyed revenue leaps far in excess of larger competitors included TIBCO Spotfire (30 per cent) and QlikTech (23 per cent).

Why?

So why are smaller BI companies performing well? The answer is simple – they are much more malleable and ready to adapt.

Most small and medium firms cannot afford the very largest BI solutions, so they look towards those that can provide just what they need – self service and bespoke software that just ticks all of the right boxes.

Of course, they cannot get these from the larger companies around the globe, which means they will increasingly turn to smaller BI firms, giving these a boost throughout 2014.

BI: Bringing back business for intelligent strategies

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile, Mobile BI by neilwilson1984 on January 17, 2014

Business intelligence (BI) is something that has been used by more and more companies across the globe in the past few years, as they look to grab the initiative and get a head start on their rivals.

However, thanks to its development as a very IT-centric notion, it has been the case since BI became a big trend for the tech people within firms to be more involved with its use than those who actually need it most.

According to Anna Young at Business2Community, BI up until now has been centred around technical uses, with IT professionals sending their BI reports to IT bosses. She said this is an issue that leads many businesses to not get the most of their investment.

To solve this, Ms Young said, companies need to realise that they should be bringing the business back into BI, allowing those who make the big business decisions within companies to have the final say on how it is used and how the results are utilised.

So just how can the trend be reversed so that BI works for firms and gets them the most for the money they have put in?

User friendliness

Because of its basing in IT, one of the biggest hurdles that many companies will face is the fact that the tools are not user-friendly for those who are not tech-savvy. They can be hard to work with, and are often discarded or passed on to someone else. This shows the need for tools that are easy to understand and straightforward to utilise.

Self service

For small companies in particular, the full scope of BI will not be needed to get the desired results. However, it can often be true that they need to have ‘all or nothing’ when investing, and this can turn many away.

Allowing companies and buyers to only purchase things that they want and need can be an effective strategy in allowing them to have a BI solution that works for them at an affordable price.

Mobile

Unlike the majority of BI specialists, decision makers in firms may not strictly be office based, or they might at the very least be out and about at some point during their working week.

However, big calls will still need to be made, and often these can’t wait. By permitting use of BI via mobile channels, developers will make it easier for companies to implement the strategy in the modern world, and uptake could be greatly improved.

Collaboration

Companies will often nowadays also want to have the chance to collaborate on ideas, and this is something those without the technical nous might not have the ability to do themselves.

Professionals in IT need to make sure that the data created is not only usable by people who are not savvy, but also sharable and easy to collaborate with in conjunction with other departments within the firm.

The biggest BI trends in 2014

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile BI, Mobile Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on January 14, 2014

This year could be a good one for business intelligence (BI), with companies across the sector looking to grow as businesses in other industries do.

But with this in mind, what will be the biggest trends and differences in 2014?

The rise of the decision maker

According to many experts, this will be the year when the BI market finally moves away from being one that is primarily IT-centric and becomes a lot more user friendly.

Over the past few years, IT professionals have created, used and produced the reports that are associated with the software, but there are now more companies looking to get involved at the ownership level so they get a feel for what they are using.

This will mean that BI becomes more user-friendly and usable throughout the year, as opposed to being the very technical solution that is has often been criticised as being in the past.

BI in the cloud

With the fast-paced way modern business has developed over the past few years, one of the biggest trends that has emerged has been that of cloud storage. Now BI and the cloud be set to merge throughout 2014.

The cloud allows companies to store data and software without needing physical hard drives, making it cheaper and more convenient, and this is something that BI firms will need to capitalize on.

In addition to this, companies will also be able to share data between different offices within their firm, allowing for better collaboration and a smoother operation, another thing BI can become involved with.

Mobile data

Mobile solutions are now one of the most important developments in any BI strategy. It has become more vital than ever, given that people can work on mobiles when they are away from the office, on transport or even at home.

This, of course, means that they will need access to BI while they are doing so, so having the solutions and software available to them on their devices will be vital to ensure that they are always connected and able to do their job to its fullest.

It’s important that BI companies provide this as well to make sure they can maximise their potential revenue streams in the new year.

Self service/bespoke solutions

This is a trend that has already been quite prevalent in BI over the past few years, but it is set to become even more so in the next few months as companies start to grow.

Risk aversion will be a thing of the past in 2014 as more and more firms instead look to grow and expand rather than shirking away, but this will not mean reckless spending. They will still look to buy software that allows them to pick and choose the most relevant functions for them and gets them the best price.

This means that 2014 will be another year in which self service and bespoke BI is important.

Predictive analysis spending soars on demand for business intelligence

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Microsoft, SAP by neilwilson1984 on December 12, 2013

A desire for better business intelligence is driving demand for predictive analysis software, according to a new set of figures. According to the study by Transparency Market Research, the market for predictive analytics software will be worth over $6.5 billion by 2019.

The growth is being driven by increased demand for customer intelligence, as well as fraud and security intelligence software. In addition, cloud hosted predictive analytics software solutions are seen as an emerging market that will drive growth in the near future.

Banking and finance services, insurance, government, pharmaceuticals, telecom and IT, and retail, are seen as key demand drivers during the forecast period, which will see the market more than triple in value from a base of just over $2 billion.

But the biggest growth will be in retail and manufacturing, largely due to fast growing consumer driven digital data and the subsequent need to extract strategically critical information from this data.

The study authors say a rise in incidences of frauds, payment defaults, over or under stock inventory levels, and regulations regarding governance, risk, and compliance, have pushed companies to adopt predictive analytical models.

“Demand for industry specific software solutions has caused customer intelligence, fraud and security intelligence, and campaign management to emerge as leading segments,” they say. These segments together accounted for approximately 50 per cent of market revenue in 2012.

The US and Canada will continue to lead the way as business intelligence demands drive uptake of solutions capable of analyzing big data.

“North America, which has been at the forefront of generating big data in large quantities, is expected to remain the largest market for predictiveanalytics software solutions,” the authors say.

“This is due to demand for advanced business intelligence being directly affected by need to analyze big data. Growth of predictive analytics aspect of business intelligence has seen a revival ever since big data gained popularity and has been growing exponentially.”

All this is good for companies, with competition increasing as big data vendors – SAP, SAS, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft – now entering the market for predictive analytics.

Analytics ‘key driver’ for mobile adoption

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile, Mobile BI, Mobile Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on December 10, 2013

Speed and better analytics are proving the key drivers for global mobile adoption. That’s according to an IBM study showing 90 per cent oforganizations around the world are willing to sustain or increase investment in mobile technology over the next year to 18 months.

A key reason for upping spend on this sector is the measurable impact on speed and productivity. Half of the respondents in the poll, for example, reported a ten per cent gain in employee productivity as a result of mobile efforts.

The survey looked at the business advantages of using mobile technologies for business intelligence, including the way it “fundamentally” changes how organizations interact with customers, and develop and deliver innovative products and services to market. In particular it identified so-called mobile strategy leaders who have a clear direction for their efforts in this sector.

Data and analytics was a key difference between this subset and others. Seventy per cent or more of leaders surveyed describe themselves as effective in areas such as addressing structured and unstructured mobile data, handling large volumes of data, analyzing mobile data and taking action based on that data. Under 37 per cent of non-leaders said they are equipped to deal with these issues.

Integration is another area where there is a clear difference. Again around seven in ten of mobile leaders indicate they have been successful in ensuring interoperability with other systems, leveraging APIs for external or cloud-provided data services, and providing service-oriented architecture and sharing information among systems/devices. On the other hand, only around 40 per cent of non-leaders report being successful with these tasks.

“Today, mobile is quickly emerging as a transformational game changer in business that will drive new levels of innovation and interactions,” said Kevin Custis, social business and mobile practices leader at IBM. “It is far too limiting to define mobility simply as a device or a channel for transactions. The organizations that come out ahead will be the ones that prioritize mobile and redefine its use to drive a new set of business expectations and user experiences.”

Business intelligence: it starts with a question

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 6, 2013

Business intelligence, big data, analytics – it’s so easy to think of these things are primarily about software and budgets. Spend more on expensive software applications and you’ll do better, so many people believe.

But that’s really looking at the issue the wrong way round. Business intelligence, so it is argued, begins not with pricey software but with something a lot more straightforward; a question about what you want to do with your business.

This is the view of Rusty Frioux, who wants firms to take a step back and ask themselves what it is they want to achieve. The founder and managing principal at DataClear explains: “A lot of people think that data analytics is all about expensive software. And while some enterprise reporting software packages can be very helpful for some organizations, they’re not always necessary and are often the wrong first choice for your investment dollars.

“Before you start thinking about tools, it’s important to take a step back and understand what questions you want answered and what data you’re already collecting. Analytics doesn’t start with data – or with software. It starts with a question you have about your business.”

To this end, the business intelligence consulting firm has released a guide to help. The publication pinpoints specific data points and reports companies can use to solve common problems.

The guide is designed as a “brainstorming tool” for companies who think that understanding the data they already collect might lead to better decision-making. It includes ideas and tactics for finance and accounting, operations, human resources, and sales and marketing.

According to Matillion, one of the main issues that can lead to problems with BI strategies is organizations put their focus on the wrong elements and in the wrong order. by focusing first on the fundamentals – the question you want answered, companies can get off on the right foot. The expensive software and applications can come later.

Big data drives software spending

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 4, 2013

Companies are devoting more resources to business intelligence, upping their investment in big data and analytics.

According to latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC), year-over-year growth in the worldwide software market for 2013 has been revised down to 4.3 per cent.

However, spending on BI solutions will hold up over the coming years, the firm’s Worldwide Semiannual Software Tracker indicates.

Collaborative applications along with structured data management software and data access, analysis and delivery solutions are expected to show the strongest growth over the five-year forecast period. The sector will grow by eight per cent between 2012-2017 as companies up their invest in this key part of their operations.

“Leveraging the social dimensions of the Internet keeps fueling the collaboration growth, much of which is in the form of software as a service. This is complementary to the increased attention to big data and analytics solutions, which help enterprises to understand and act on anticipated customer behaviorand provide new insights into product reliability and maintenance,” said Henry Morris, senior vice president for Worldwide Software, Services, and Executive Advisory Research.

Enterprise applications such as CRM, ERM, SCM, and operations and manufacturing applications will grow by around six per cent.

“Enterprises are starting to implement applications that either didn’t exist or weren’t needed in the past, such as commerce applications in all industries, not just retail, but also manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage, and even the public sector,” said Christine Dover, research director, Enterprise Applications and Digital Commerce.

The report also shows IDC is beginning to see applications in categories that didn’t exist in the past, such as subscription billing, spend optimization, and revenue management. Often these are used for requirements that may have previously been met using custom applications or manual processes, explained Ms Dover.

The findings come after a separate study found that BI and analytics software professionals overwhelmingly prefer a cloud-based BI solution over conventional, on-premise installed software for gaining access to the real-time business data they need to make better decisions, according to a new report.

Cloud BI user satisfaction tops 80 per cent, said the report from Dimensional Research.

IBM takes predictive analysis to IT

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 3, 2013

IBM is bringing predictive analysis to IT operations to help system administrators better find and solve potential problems.

The firm says its new software will enable clients to apply foundational elements of cognitive intelligence throughout their IT infrastructure. The aim is to help workers gain insights from big data, rather than being focused on how to cope with its sheer volume. Such insights, says IBM, can help predict and prevent IT downtime, improve productivity and generate cost savings.

Increasingly organisations are dealing with complex IT systems of servers, networks and applications. Combined with mobile and cloud, these systems can generate more than 1.3 terabytes of data per day, including log files, software error alerts, IT service tickets and network configuration updates.

This can lead to up to one million system alerts per day, some of which are critical to performance and others that are irrelevant. Sifting through all of these and making sense of it all is where the new software comes in.

IBM SmartCloud Analytics – Predictive Insights enables employees to wade through terabytes of IT operations data in real time, spotting only the trends that are critical to IT network performance. The software’s “cognitive computing capabilities” can learn, reason and sense an organization’s IT systems.

The software adapts as business and performance conditions change, updating settings and eliminating costly errors caused by poor system configuration. This new technology will run on the SoftLayer infrastructure, which is the foundation of IBM’s cloud portfolio.

“As the value of data continues to grow, the differentiator for clients will be around predicting what could happen to help transform their business with speed and conviction,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, software and systems at IBM. “IBM’s latest set of solutions allow clients to help predict customer behavior and outcomes with speed and ease, all delivered from the cloud.”

Consolidated Communications is one company working with IBM’s new predictive software. It expects to save $300,000 annually in reactive costs alone by analyzing IT operations data.