The Death of Business Intelligence

How to use BI for a better return

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on January 8, 2014

Across the globe, companies are always looking for ways to make sure they are as effective as they can possibly be, making the best decisions and giving themselves the greatest opportunity to get things right, and crucially, more right than their competitors.

This has meant that more and more has been spent in the last few years on business intelligence (BI) software that gives an insight into companies’ data and allows them to make the most measured decisions to get ahead of the competition.

However, according to one expert, investing in this will be pointless if companies are not also ensuring that they are exercising correct working practices. Vijay Govindarajan of Harvard Business Review said there are a number of stages that companies should undertake to ensure that their business is operating as a well oiled machine and that BI delivers the results and returns they are after.

Starting point

Companies should always have a clear understanding of their business at its starting point before they use BI.

Before they go anywhere, they need to know the reality of the here and now so they can see where they want to go. It is impossible to build a strategy and set final goals in any way if you haven’t an idea where you are starting from.

Destination

Next thing that needs to be laid out is the destination. Before employing BI, you need to know what you want from it. What is the final goal in terms of revenue. This should always be laid out so that you have something to aim for in the long run. Without an idea of where a company should be headed, any new IT strategy such as the use of BI can seem a little aimless.

Planning

Once you know where you are and what you want to achieve as a business, you need to work out how you are going to get from one reality to the other. Set up quarter by quarter sales targets, and look at how you will achieve these to hit overall goals. To set a target without ever looking at how you will get there can be a disastrous strategy that ends in rash decisions and money lost in the long run.

Varying

Expect the plan to have some variants throughout the time you are making use of it. No plan will ever go exactly as you thought it would, no matter how well thought out and reasoned it may be. The important thing is to be ready for this. If you have to work off plan, don’t panic when it happens. Simply take a step back and make a new route after assessing the new situation.

Act early

This ties in with the idea of variation. If you do find yourself off plan as a business, it’s important to make sure you deal with it and get back on track as soon as possible. If you take a wait and see approach, it can often mean the problem is exacerbated and takes far longer to rectify. Instead, you should tackle issues head on from the earliest possible opportunity.

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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.

BIME secures $4m for business intelligence in cloud

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on December 2, 2013

French business intelligence company BIME has secured $4 million in new funding.

The Montpellier firm plans to use the money to make continued enhancements to its cloud BI offering that it says turns the entire web into a “seamlessly connected data warehouse” that enables companies to query data sources across the entire web in real-time.

After opening its US headquarters in Kansas City, the firm will also use the money to grow sales in the key North American market.

BIME is part of a fast-growing clutch of next-generation BI providers. Just like Birst or Platfora, these solutions are often easier to install and use, and may even be cheaper than similar products from the established vendors.

“We owe our rapid growth to the success of our unique technology. The rise of Big Data is a reality, and businesses of any size are using cloud-based tools like BIME to become truly data-driven,” said Rachel Delacour, CEO and cofounder. “We help businesses turn the entire web into a seamlessly connected data warehouse. BIME now has the capital and talent to keep innovating and expand globally, particularly in the dynamic US market.”

The $4 million in funding was led by Alven Capital Partners. Jeremy Uzan, investment director with the firm, noted that business analytics is one of the fastest-growing segments of modern IT.

“Every enterprise that is serious about harnessing the value of big data needs to tap into dozens of live data sources and be able to ask questions in the moment. BIME empowers them to do so, with a lightweight yet infinitely scalable service,” he explained.

The current version of BIME v5 consists of an HTML5 framework, an in-memory calculation engine built for speed and a powerful feature set. The firm was the first vendor to offer a BI front-end for Google BigQuery and it has been recognized by Forrester, Design for Experience, and Dresner Advisory Group for its capabilities.

SMEs enjoy business intelligence advantage

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT, SAP by neilwilson1984 on November 28, 2013

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be better able to harness the power of business intelligence (BI). That’s according to a new report showing smaller companies are more agile and closer to their customers than larger organizations.

The study from Dresner Advisory Services showed SME BI initiatives are more likely to be driven by executive management and the sales function, reported Enterprise Apps Today.

“SMEs have the advantage of agility and the ability to use BI as a competitive differentiator,” explained Howard Dresner, chief research officer at the firm behind the report.

“Because of the closeness of executives to the technology, business and customers, they have an edge against larger competitors.”

However, he points out that larger organizations have a lot more resources in terms of people and money, enabling them to invest in more long-term projects.

But while they may have an advantage when it comes to business intelligence resources, SMEs tend to face fewer operational challenges.

Larger organizations, says Dresner, can get “bloated with bureaucracy and process, forcing them to focus BI upon efficiency”. By contrast, smaller enterprises are more efficient and can focus externally.

This seems to go against a recent report from BI software vendor SAP, which warned this summer that SMEs struggle with data analysis.

In a blog, SAP noted how for really precise decisions, companies need lots of data, but speed and efficiency is a real issue: management simply doesn’t have time to wade through mountains of raw data when there are loads of other tasks to perform.

“Another aggravating factor is that the management depends on the cooperation of the IT department to deal with the issue. Many midsize companies tie up unnecessary resources with gathering data, and these resources then don’t get to do their core tasks,” said SAP.

This results in one major problem facing SMEs – lots of raw data that is merely presented and not analyzed or synthesized to be of any real value. Agile they may be, but SMEs need to find ways of maximizing their resources of they risk missing out on making sense of the data they are harvesting.

Big data opportunities for CFOs

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 27, 2013

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are at the heart of an organization’s operations. Holding the purse strings, everything done by the enterprise needs to come through them at some point.

This means a lot of control and oversight. But it also entails a huge volume of data that is relevant to the finance function. Monitoring, harvesting and assimilating this information is not an easy task, and one that CFOs recognise as a significant challenge.

Big data is seen as one of the major technology trends affecting the accounting profession, according to a recent report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). The global survey polled over 2,100 finance professionals from around the world.

Of the US respondents, 62 per cent said big data would be influential, compared with 91 per cent of Australian respondentsand only 47 per cent of respondents from Ireland. US participants also claimed big data will demand new skills, with 72 per cent responding that tools will be needed to support data modelling and analysis. Three-quarters (77 per cent) claimed they will need knowledge of data extraction tools to aid business intelligence.

US finance professionals seem a lot more clued up about big data than their British peers. Just 52 per cent of UK respondents said it would be impactful in the years ahead.

Whether in the US or the UK, however, it seems CFOs need to do more with big data, to understand it and harness it to their advantage.

Chris Gentle, head of research at Deloitte and a member of ACCA’s Accountancy Futures Academy, says accountants and financial professionals must be able to adapt to the changes created by big data. “The future will not be like the past, and we will all need to adapt,” he explains.

Raef Lawson, IMA vice president of research, adds: “US accountants and finance professionals are influential agents of change; they’re adept at using technology to advance their careers, their clients’ prospects and their own organizations.

“But they need to extend that influence to advising clients. Only 35 per cent of US respondents said they could influence their clients’ use of technology, compared to 80 per cent of respondents in Africa.”

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The evolution of BI: Coming to the mainstream

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence, IT by neilwilson1984 on November 26, 2013

Business Intelligence (BI) software has traditionally been the tool of the rich – seen in many circles as the magic wand for enterprises that they merely need wave in order to get insights into themselves, their customers and the wider market.

But in an ever-changing marketplace that is becoming more and more competitive, are BI software providers having to change their approach?

According to one expert, the tide is indeed starting to turn, with BI starting to become the plaything of midsized companies looking to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.

Rick Robinson, writing for Midsize Insider, said the focus for BI providers has come through the advent of flexibility in the market and the growing need to make software more user freinly and accessible.

Findings from Gartner put sales of BI software in 2012 at some $13.1 billion worldwide, but with the demand starting to grow, how are companies starting to change what they offer to stay competitive?

The age of self service and bespoke packages

The rise of BI into the mainstream is facilitated in many ways by the increasing level of self service available in the sector, under which firms are able to choose what they need from their BI package rather than having to go the whole hog.

This rise of bespoke packages has made it much more affordable for many to get into the BI market, by letting them pick and choose things they want to focus on and discard elements that are really only of use for larger firms.

Input and output

In order to make BI more mainstream, the market has had to focus on the output. Companies using it want to know one thing – insights that will help them make important business decisions.

However, in the past it has been both hard to decipher things for those who are not perhaps IT trained or particularly tech savvy, and difficult to draw out the information required, which is the key area that the providers have had to focus on.

Mr Robinson said there is a need now more than ever to give flexible results pages that update in real time – more akin to Big Data – and that offers businesses the chance to simply pluck out the information they need without having to dig too deeply.

Affordability

One of the main problems that plagued many smaller and medium sized companies with the advent of BI was the fact that it was simply too expensive for them to implement in their operations.

However, the recent rise of a much more pick-and-choose nature in the sector has meant that it is now entirely possible for companies to choose elements of software to bring into their operation, which makes it not only simpler, but more affordable.

It saves companies from wasting large amounts of money on things they will not need, while still achieving the overall goal, and helps BI software reach a far greater number of users.