The Death of Business Intelligence

A Pragmatic Approach to ERP Implementation

Posted in Business Intelligence, ERP by errahseno on September 11, 2014

The implementation of an ERP system is certainly no walk in the park. It is complicated, expensive, and stressful. It requires months or years of rigorous planning, serious financial commitment, and sufficiency of manpower.

Failure of an ERP System implementation is probably one of the biggest and most expensive failure a business will ever encounter. Sky rocketing license costs, Consult costs, and internal hours dedicated to its planning and implementation are a few of the reasons why failing in this project is a big blow to the head of its proponents and across the organization.

While it is true that the technology behind the system must be smart, it should above all be easy to install, integrate, use, and maintain. The success of the Implementation does not solely rely on the technology bought. On the contrary, a huge portion of the ERP system´s implementation success lies in the people behind it.

Many businesses put the burden of implementation on the shoulders of the IT department and that is not entirely wrong. Implementation, of course, requires software installation, integration, and migration of data. More work to an already overworked team in many organizations.

Needless to say, implementing this system means digging up details which usually does not lie in the hands of senior management, but details that are held in the hands of the front liners. Implementing the system also means deciding which of the existing multiple processes will remain, which between two departments way of doing things is correct, and who will call the shots.

This line of thinking leads us to a reasonable conclusion that there must be a person high up the organization that should spearhead the project. Why so? Because it requires buy-in from a lot of managers in different departments, it requires the mediation among employees before they pull themselves out of the project and sabotage it, and someone needs to explain why things must be done. One person cannot do it by himself, of course, so this lobbyist must be supported by Project Leaders who shall help him/her oversee the implementation and communicate to all affected employees.

It also tells us that since the ERP system will ultimately result in labor cost savings and a more real-time intellectual process, employees must be assured that this implementation is not to get rid of them or to devalue the effort they have exerted through the years in improving the business. They need to understand it is to make better use of employee time so that they can rid themselves of mundane tasks. Employees need to understand that this change is not because they were doing something wrong all these years, but because there is a window for improvement that can be used to improve the business.

While it sounds like plain and simple common sense, many businesses underestimate the impact the people have on the success of this project. People normally resist to anything new and it is human nature to do just that, but like everything else, with proper communication and sincere team effort, a functioning ERP system in place can bring a breakthrough way of doing business.

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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.”

Big Data: Not the be all and end all of business

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 19, 2013

Big Data has become something of a buzzword in the business world in the last few years, seen by many as something of a magic tool that can help them devise all-conquering strategies and give them a competitive advantage they could only dream of in the past.

However, it should not be seen as a wand that can just be waved to cure all problems and create the perfect operational structure, according to one leading voice in the use of the technology.

Speaking at the IAB’s Engage Event, Bryan Melmed, director of insights at Exponential, a company that promises “to turn ‘big data’ into advertising intelligence”, said that Big Data shouldn’t be viewed by anyone as the answer to all their prayers.

“Data is not going to solve every problem”. Data is only human, he said. “It’s touchy, so beware of putting your full faith and trust in big data.”

He said that one of the biggest problems comes when the technology used in the analysis of data on this massive scale comes into contact, there is always a degree of distortion, and it is here that most care must be taken to ensure that problems are kept to a minimum.

Mr Melmed described the notion as being “very messy”, adding: “This is where the human element comes in. Humans live in an analogue world, and when you’re dealing with analogue data, there is a signal-to-noise ratio – and the more you listen the more you get confused.”

But is this where one of the main strengths of Big Data comes in? The sheer amount of data that we handle when we are looking at Big Data almost defies human logic. We use it because it allows us to analyse far larger amounts of information than we ever have in the past, and it is this that develops all new strategies.

It almost forces leaders to abandon the way they have seen customers in the past, and instead look at aspects beyond the stereotypes.

While in the past we may have targetted products at the 18-25 year old sports fan, or the 30 year old mother, we can now look far deeper, ignore the previous ways of thinking and devise a strategy based on more than logic – it has brought about the age of true reason.

“Our brains are designed to create patterns and shortcuts, but that does a huge disservice to every single person we deal with, who is not easily summarised by 30 or so demographic characteristics,” Mr Melmed added.

The best tool, however, he concluded in his speech, is reality. It is important to know that it has limits to what it can achieve in reality.

“No, it’s not going to predict terrorist attacks before they happen,” said Melmed. “It’s not going to cure cancer. And we are not going to solve Wanamaker’s problem of figuring out how much of our advertising is wasted,” he quipped.

Once businesses recognise that there are limits to what Big Data can achieve though, it is possible to realise the true potential that it has to assist us in bringing a new dawn to how we advertise and who we target.

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Top 5 BI trends in 2013

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 6, 2013

There have been a number of changes to the business intelligence (BI) market in the UK in recent times, thanks to the fact that the mass market has displayed more of a demand for the technology. This has led to a number of trends in the ever-evolving sector, but what have been the most significant developments so far this year?

The second wave of Big Data

We have known about Big Data and the potential it has as a business tool for the past few years, but recent developments have meant that it is now seen differently.

While the attitude to Big Data used to simply be that it was there and should be harnessed by firms in some way for consumer and business analysis, BI users are now starting to look at the ways in which it can be used and how this can have an impact in decision making moving forward.

The sophistication of analytics

This is a derivative of people’s changing attitude on how Big Data can be analysed at the moment, with more companies now.

Dr Nabil Abu El Ata, president and chief executive officer of Accretive Technologies said that there will be a movement away from the simple correlation of basic statistics towards highly sophisticated algorithms for the analysing of what-if decisions.

He added that this will mean Big Data becomes a major tool in itself for the minimising of risk and complexity within business decisions.

Simplified Big Data Tools

The simplification of BI and Big Data technologies has become far more commonplace now as providers try to create something that allows for the common user, as opposed to just experts, to harness the power of Big Data.

Changes have focused on making technologies cheaper, more accessible and easier to use without previously obtained skills, with one expert saying this will become an even more common reality in times to come.

Innovation through competition

In 2012, the number of providers in the BI market grew time and again, which meant that the biggest BI firms (SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos, Oracle OBIEE and MicroStrategy) lost their grip on the market.

However, this is a good thing for the BI market as a whole, as the increased competition and the arrival of more smaller companies has meant that there is a greater incentive for innovation and new advancements from firms looking to reach the top of the pile.

Cloud technology

The emergence of the cloud in recent times has meant that there is now a demand from businesses and end users to have access to technologies at any time and on any device.

This has meant a shift in demand for developers in the BI market, and has made for a dynamic marketplace that is more competitive than ever as firms try to meet the demands of users around the globe.

Do businesses need a better focus for big data conversations?

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on August 15, 2013

Big data is a concept that has come more and more into the business sector in the last few years, growing at an average rate of ten per cent per year, which is twice as fast as the software market in general.

However, while this advance has become priceless to firms over a number of years as it becomes more and more widespread, an expert has questioned whether the way that the concept itself is talked about is having a detrimental effect on the impact it has on business intelligence (BI).

Speaking on a podcast with another independent BI analyst, chief executive officer of Yellowfin, a BI analytics firm, Glen Rabie, said that while the concept itself is fantastic, some of the rhetoric that has become commonplace has proved a hindrance to the use of big data as a technological advance.

He said that the concept represented a backward step in the way consumers are able to engage with their customers because of the way it is put across in conversations, which the expert claimed had become very technically complex, and thus far too confusing for many users and normal customers to understand.

Promotion of the use of big data should be about showing companies what business intelligence firms will do with data, why they use it in this way, as well as how BI companies can help them to address the situation, but Mr Rabie said it has changed now and become all about “selling the virtues of the technology.”

Customers, he added, need to know what to use in terms of big data and when they need to do so, but because of the way conversations work at the current time it has become the case that many consumers feel a degree of trepidation and big data paralysis because they don’t have the vital information that they need surrounding the technology.

This was a theory that was backed up by Gartner, which said that BI companies need to do more to ensure that there is an understanding of the technology rather than just throwing largely irrelevant information at potential customers.

It said that there is often a lot of confusion between terms such as ‘big data’, ‘BI’, ‘blunting BI spend’ and ‘analytics,’ an issue that needs to be addressed presently to help boost the market in big data technology.

Mr Rabie concluded: “And no vendor is actually helping in that space. No one is saying this is when you use my technology, this is the most appropriate time, or this is the most appropriate use case,” adding that there is a tendency to move away from teaching people about the best practice for how to use big data, instead turning towards sales pitches that inform people that they need to use it rather than where, when and why.

Why should finance take over business intelligence?

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 29, 2013

Information is mined by programmers and technicians, but when it comes to the processing of data, the Journal of Accountancy argues the finance department should be taking the lead role.

Data has transformed most roles in the business sphere, but the corporate finance function has been particularly affected by the influx of information. According to Donny Shimamoto, a certified information technology professional at Chartered Global Management Accountant, finance should own the business intelligence (BI) role for the good of accountants and the good of the organization.

Speaking at the AICPA Financial Planning & Analysis Conference in Las Vegas, he explained that there are three reasons why finance should focus more onBI. First and foremost, the finance department can usually add clarity, accuracy and relevance to what is often just confusing numbers to those without the skills or expertise to process. A recent Gartner report says that businesses are “still struggling to make progress with (business intelligence) andanalytics”, which is why employing those with analytical skills can add insight to information.

Secondly, senior officials often perceive information coming from the finance department as being more trustworthy and valid. Accountants are seen as ‘purveyors of the truth’ in an organisation, and there is a certain validity that accompanies information processed by accountants.

Finally, the rise in analytics represents an opportunity for finance to shift toward a role of business partner. Accountants “can go beyond traditional cost control and start to evolve the role to be looking at the organization as a whole and discussing how to best optimize the performance,” Shimamoto says.

In order to adapt to the new corporate finance function, the role of accountants should be broken into four quadrants. There will be the traditional steward/controller role, the trusted reporter role and compliance duties which are already incorporated into most positions. But along with these functions, there will also be a move towards more technical expertise. This is the one Shimamoto hopes finance can become more attuned with.

“Finance is the key to help unlock the power of business intelligence,” he said. “The tools have evolved to become so user-friendly that you don’t need IT to help get the information. It’s evolved now so finance can do it all on (its) own. That’s a huge change within the last decade.”

That’s where DS Panel’s Performance Canvas comes in. With Performance Canvas, finance professionals can track business opportunities and create visual alerts when new opportunities arise. They can also optimize budget cycles, create and store multiple what-if scenarios and deploy them depending on the business situation and monitor forecast vs actual expenditures in real-time. All of this comes in a zero-footprint, Excel or Web based financial client, to make adaption seamless.

Disparate data ‘difficult to define as a unified asset’

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on July 18, 2013

Most data management problems occur because disparate data is difficult to define as a unified asset.

Organisations, regardless of the industry, are struggling to capitalize on the opportunities of big data because disparate sets of information are not being harmonized.

When you consider the many operational systems that are in play in a typical organisation, from the finance department to sales and marketing functions, it is easy to paint a picture of how chaotic information generation can become. As data increases in volume, velocity and variety, there is too much information in too many places to make an accurate decision in the timeframe in which it is needed. Analysts know that the answers to business problems are buried in their data, but being unable to unearth the right information is hampering efforts to determine those answers.

To highlight how data is being disparately accumulated and the problems this may cause, we’ve selected two industries where ITC departments are being tasked with harmonizing a wide range of information, and look at some potential solutions to get organisations back on track.

Healthcare

Healthcare is an umbrella term used to describe a million different things. What’s more, many of its components are becoming digitized, which makes pulling in the same direction extremely taxing. Whether it be e-prescribing, electronic medical records (EMRs), digital imaging scans, pharmacy data, lab data, admissions systems, billing systems, insurance claims data or regional health information exchanges, extracting insight in an innovative industry is tricky without consolidating the data at hand.

There are three reasons why information collected in different formats by systems that are not interoperable is likely to yield few insights. A recent blog from American Sentinel University outlined that, first and foremost, medical data exists in silos, which means there is no one repository of all its data. Furthermore, there is a lot of problematic data redundancy occurring when providers duplicate patient data in unlinked files, and much of the data is variable in format and content.

In order to rectify this, a set of processes, governance policies, standards, and tools that permit the disparate data integration must be incorporated. DS Panel’s Performance Canvas offers a flexible work-based solution which can respond to the pace of patient care. It allows you to track and monitor ward or departmental workflow, optimize your patient costs and budgets, report on transfer payments and monitor forecast versus actual patient waiting times, as well as create ad-hoc and flash reports and deliver them in a variety of format and track performance using proven balanced scorecard metrics.

Hospitality

Hospitality provides an excellent example of how big data can be transformed into company-wide functionality and revenue gains. Like most industries, the digitization of the sector has led to a vast accumulation of information which has been gathered from disparate sources and in different forms.

Demand for analytics in hospitality has soared because for hotels, casinos, restaurants and resorts, having consolidated information about guests and patrons is essential to delivering good customer service, managing loyalty programs and targeting appropriate offers and promotions.

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas is a unique software solution which allows managers to keep track of everything from top F&B sales, room occupancy and much more for one property or 1,000 properties, right in their web browsers or mobile devices. Revenue managers and financial professionals are also given a holistic approach to their tasks, ensuring that functionality is run under one roof.

Big data ‘to transform hospitality’

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 17, 2013

A new study has found that big data is set to transform the hospitality industry.

A major global study has underlined the role big data has to play in improving the customer experience in the hospitality world, finding new analytical systems have the power to transform the industry.

Hotels, travel agencies and other industry players are increasingly looking to unlock the power of big data in order to create a more seamless customer journey that is tailored to the individual needs of modern web users. With more information than ever readily available, the Amadeus research shows that companies can enhance their competitive position by utilising data.

The study, entitled ‘At the Big Data Crossroads: turning towards a smarter travel experience’, revealed that hotels could be pioneers in providing operational and technical insights about big data adoption. With many already embracing big data to enhance their financial performance, a more distinctive experience for hotel guests could be on the horizon. Overall, the study pointed to three areas in which big data could help streamline operations.

Revenue

Analytics can be used to establish the optimal price for rooms based on basic supply and demand principles, ensuring that fewer rooms are left empty at night and the optimum daily revenue is being sought for busy periods. The same logic can be used for price optimisation in restaurants, catering, and meeting spaces too.

Investment

Big data can lead to better informed investment decisions, employing the ‘test and learn’ approach to determine what kinds of capital investments are worthwhile. This can save capital being wasted on unworthy projects and ensure that the right investments are being made.

Relationships

Finally, and arguably most crucially, is building better relations with clients.  With more information than ever at their fingertips, managers and sales-driven personnel can ensure they provide the best customer service possible by tracking trends and adopting service approaches and marketing campaigns appropriately.

DS Panel

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas can create deployment scenarios that allow managers to keep track of everything from top F&B sales, room occupancy and much more for one property or 1,000 properties, right in their web browsers or mobile devices. Revenue managers and financial professionals can create and track multiple budgets, scenarios, and forecasts right in Excel without having to keep track of multiple spreadsheets. Board members can create top down or managers can create bottom up plans and scenarios that can be deployed as and when changes occur.

Top 5 uses of BI in the finance department

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 3, 2013

Business intelligence (BI) is integral to corporate financial performance. We look at five areas in which BI is taking on a prominent role.

Financial professionals are increasingly turning to business intelligence (BI) systems to consolidate data from multiple sources and perform analyses of corporate financial performance, but how is the technology being put to use and in what ways can BI aid your financial duties?

For contemporary corporates, information is the engine that drives growth. BI is a vital tool for transforming data into actionable information and for deriving knowledge from disparate data sets, and its widespread use across a variety of industries is validation that no matter what field a business operates within, data is playing an integral role.

According to a new study from Cisco, the Internet of Everything (bringing together people, processes and data) will lead to an accumulative $613 billion in global profits this year because of improved operations, customer  service and other benefits. The index study of 7,500 global businesses in 12 countries found data was becoming “increased in value as ‘everything’ joins the network”, which means data management cannot be overlooked.

Finance directors are becoming prime users of corporate, business performance management. Data tailored to meet the demands of the finance function enables professionals to deliver timely and accurate information to drive business decisions, which is revolutionizing their role within the boardroom. As leading providers of business intelligence, performance management and structured financial operations solutions, we take a look at five ways in which new technologies are being utilised within the profession.

Planning, budgeting and forecasting

BI is increasingly being used in the contribution, aggregation, manipulation and approval of the financial plan, often on a continual basis. Once viewed as a periodic element of the business process, the financial plan has become a living, breathing thing within the corporate sphere, and continual updates using up-to-date information allows the company to keep on track of all developments.

Financial consolidations and reporting

Legal and statutory consolidation systems, along with more generalised financial statement generation capabilities, are in vogue as compliance and regulation play a bigger role within company processes. As a matter of best practice, regular reporting and data consolidation are becoming key.

Financial analytics and dashboards

Data management has been transformed from a passive noun to an active verb. Instead of simply hoarding information, companies are now looking at profitability applications, role-specific dashboards, metrics, and specific financial analytics to generate detailed financial processes.

Financial governance, risk management, and compliance

Financial governance and control requirements – particularly as companies work across borders – is important in enabling companies to comply with diverse reporting standards.

Scorecards and strategy

Technology is being utilised to generate methodology-based scorecards, such as the balanced scorecard, and strategy management applications, to give better insight and drive business decisions.

DSPanel

DSPanel is a leader in end user focused business intelligence and structured financial planning technology. They use BI technology to enable organizations and individuals to create dashboards and ad-hoc analysis that can answer any question, facilitate collaboration and enable smarter decisions.

Mobile BI

Mobile apps are easy to use, easy to share and easy to discard. But does this ease of use conflict with enterprise security goals?

We live in an app world

There is no denying that we live in a world where we can get an app for almost anything, pizza delivery, movie times and even medical advice. These apps are great because we can remain relatively anonymous as we use them and if we get tired of them, we can delete them and if we lose our phones, we can re-download them. They almost never contain our private information and we feel safe using them on public wi-fi systems and on mobile networks. But what would happen if mobile applications started containing personal or privileged information? Would be be so ready to use them?

Anything you can do, I can do too

You can do almost everything on a mobile device, so the natural progression of business intelligence was mobile business intelligence. The wave of 2011 has been getting business applications, including business intelligence on to mobile devices such as iPads. These devices are great because they are pretty powerful and allow users to do cool things without being tied to their computers. So naturally, you might consider getting a mobile BI app, to extend your current in-house BI system.

But I would be cautious about doing that. Unlike desktop computers which have a tendency to be hard-to-steal or lose, mobile phones are lost at an alarming rate, 113 phones are lost every minute in the US alone. Imagine what would happen if one of those mobiles had an application on it with your firms data held in your mobile BI application’s cache? How much would your data be worth?

Browser Based BI

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for Mobile BI. I think it will revolutionize the way individuals, who are not always at their desks, like CEOs, Sales, Hospitality and Healthcare employees work. What I do think is there has to be a way to deal with these security issues. And interesting idea coming out of a software company called DSPanel is the idea of browser based mobile BI. What this means is all BI is accessible through the devices browser, by sending links to the dashboard, scorecard, or report. These items are then consumed and manipulated with the same functionality as a native app. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, the created mobile dashboard is simply deactivated by the creator and the link changed so it can still be accessed by users. This means business data remains secure and users get to enjoy the freedom mobile devices give them.