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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Cloud computing: The benefits for staff retention

Posted in Business, Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on November 6, 2013

In an ever-changing business world that is dominated by technology and the advances therein, it’s often tempting for businesses to follow the agenda and make alterations to what they are doing without thinking about why.

Examples of this can include issues such as cloud computing, which has become ever more popular for remote storage and the ability to lower cost through a lack of physical hard drives and other hardware.

However, there are also other benefits to such an advancement, and firms need to be aware of these when they look into cloud adoption.

For example, one of the biggest benefits cloud computing has brought to companies across the world is the ability to allow people to work from any location as long as they have internet access, giving them instant access to files and emails from anywhere.

Not only is this preferential to businesses, which can reduce office sizes and lower overhead costs, but it is also a vital consideration for staff. This can mean cloud computing is key for companies to retaining the very best members of their staff.

According to a report published by recruitment firm Office Angels, some 59 per cent of staff would simply consider walking away from their current job if the chance to work flexibly and from remote locations was not available.

And this is an issue that becomes even more prevalent as staff become more experienced and potentially more valuable to the firms they work for. Some 70 per cent of people aged between 25 and 34 – the age at which many will start families – would find a new job if they could not work flexibly.

However, this is not a notion often recognised by businesses, and of those firms that were questioned for the survey, only some 24 per cent said flexible working is something they are looking to implement in the future.

Angela Smith, managing director of Office Angels, said: “Flexible working is clearly more important to employees than ever before, and childcare is not the main driver.

“It is clear that a working culture that can adapt to a worker’s lifestyle is becoming increasingly important, with employees wanting to achieve the optimum work-life balance.

“However, opportunities to work flexibly should be clearly and transparently communicated to employees, with a working model in place that can be adapted. The right balance needs to be struck.”

Cloud computing does not come without its risks though, and this is something that bosses should also be aware of when it comes to adoption to please staff.

While they can risk losing some of their best workers by not employing cloud computing, they can risk their entire operation by failing to implement proper security systems.

Staff who are to work from home should be trained entirely on the problems that can be caused by failing to be as resilient and resistant as possible to the dangers of hacking, data loss and data breaches, before they are allowed to do so.

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Data critical to ERP in manufacturing

Posted in Business by TheLondonEconomic on September 12, 2013

 

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a vital function for firms in the manufacturing sector. But manufacturers need to be agile and able to respond to situations quickly, making a lack of information a problem.

Over one-third (38 per cent) of manufacturers surveyed by Aberdeen Group for a recent report cited a lack of timely information as their top business driver for ERP. “If employees are unable to access data when they need it for decision-making, organisations can miss out on opportunities (such as favourable prices for materials),or be slow to react to adverse events (such as products that need to be recalled),” the report’s author, Nick Castellina, states. “The costs to the organisation can be substantial.”

The report also highlights how ERP can serve as a “hub” for collaboration, containing records of conversation and facilitating communication between employees. Best-in-class organisation are more likely to utilise ERP to facilitate communication, collaboration, and continuous improvement, it reveals.

They are also more likely to provide their employees with access to the data they need to make decisions. According to the study, 77 per cent of best-in-class organisations are able to view summaries that can then be drilled down in order to understand past performance and the status of processes across the organisation. “For example, project-based manufacturers can track costs that will help them steer projects away from scope creep and going over budget,” says Castellina.

However, it is not enough to simply have all of this data available to employees. Since agile reactions are needed in today’s manufacturing environment, best-in-class firms more likely than others to aid their employees with automatic notifications. In addition, to continuously monitor performance against goals, 70 per cent of the best performers have the ability to create variance reports.

Again we see how business intelligence is giving firms a competitive edge. Thirty-eight per cent of best-in-class organisations have a fully integrated view of all customer information. “This is necessary for understanding customer requirements, shipping orders more quickly, and responding to service requests,” says the report, noting that this can be a key differentiator that separates manufacturers from their competition. Castellina adds: “This is just one of the ways in which visibility can help an organisation to perform more effectively. But what technologies can be utilized to provide the above capabilities?”

According to the study, what matters is creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ for data. Top performers have tailored their business systems to best serve their needs. Since collaboration and visibility are critical to manufacturers, it is logical that their “operational backbone” serves those needs specifically, the report says.

Leading organisations are 80 per cent more likely than the rest to have integrated business systems serve as a complete system of record. Best in class organisation are also more likely to integrate business intelligence into ERP.

“This means that employees can find all of the data they need in one place. If it’s easy to find, then employees will be more likely to use it,” says Castellina.

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.

From specialist capability to mass-market take ups: The world of BI

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 6, 2013

The market for businesses intelligence (BI) software has gone through something of a seismic shift in recent times, as it moves from being something of a niche or specialist tool only used by those with the skills to harness it, to a mass market behemoth capable of playing a massive part in the decision making of companies across the globe.

In the beginning, only those with requisite skills could harness the data analysing powers of BI thanks not only to the complicated nature of the concept, but also the prohibitive costs, and the failure of various firms to include non technical people in their decision making with regards to their take up.

So now, with barriers in the sector being broken down repeatedly, just how has BI managed to become more inclined towards the mass market it once evaded?

The changing BI concept

The major barrier to use of BI software in the mass market was simple – the technology was too complicated for the average user. However, three areas of focus are now helping to break through this hurdle as BI providers put more of a focus on the technology’s end users.

These, known as “super trends” have tended towards the non expert, with an emphasis now being placed on the technology user.

Firstly, there is now much more of a realisation of the value of the Big Data analysed. Second comes the realisation that technology development is now not all about being faster and stronger and is about being usable and accessible to all who need it, even if they are not clued up. Lastly is the emergence of a blurred line between professional and personal technology use, which has made for more of a consumerisation in BI, and led to a more business-led concept.

Business-led BI

According to Computer Weekly, the concept of business-led BI is one which can be summed up in three simple points; cheaper, faster and easier.

In order to advance, then, companies have had to adopt the following strategies in order to make sure that BI software barriers are a thing of the past.

Low cost – This was the main barrier to BI, and it is now generally believed that it should be easy to acquire the essential tool to at least a basic level for a relatively low initial cost.

Self serving – Users should be able to make use of the technology without having to have an extensive IT network behind them.

Universality – There should be a uniform style to technology in the sector to make sure that it can be used by experts and novices alike.

Accessibility – The software needs to be able to be used on any device in any place. This has been helped by the emergence of the cloud as a driver for BI growth.

Visuals – Interfaces should be easy to use and simple to navigate. While tech experts may favour command based prompts, for example, those without the skills will not be able to use this.

With these changes being made across the board then, the traditional barriers that were in place for the BI market are being broken down to allow the technology to become more accessible and on a wider scale than ever before.

Improving BI analysis among the top company priorities

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 2, 2013

Business Intelligence software has been becoming more and more popular in recent times thanks to the fact that it can aid in decision-making processes and help target choices to improve results in the long run.

A new study has shown that the positives that can be gained from the use of BI technology and analytics have made these two of the top tech priorities that can be seen around the globe, with even governmental chief information officers saying that this analysis is something they will be looking to target in the months ahead.

According to the findings from Gartner, which surveyed 398 chief information officers from around the world, the top two priorities moving forward are business intelligence and analytics and legacy modernisation.

“When faced with unsustainable business models, government executives are more willing to make targeted technology investments and undergo the extensive organisational change necessary to achieve the productivity and quality gains made possible by IT,” Gartner research director Rick Howard said.

In order to meet this demand then, it is important that BI providers, businesses and governments work in tandem to make sure that everyone is best served, with many firms making use of BI likely to want flexible contracts that do not tie them into using a certain technology.

For example, if it is the case that there are older technologies that do the same things as newer versions, BI providers may want to look at ways they can keep costs down, and this can include continuing to run the older methods.

However, clients will often want to move on to newer technologies and as a result they will be loathe to sign up to contracts that lock them into the use of one kind of software for a set period of time.

An example of this has been seen in recent times with the arrival of cloud technologies for BI software, which has made the analytical tools far more mobile and accessible, something that companies will want to be able to make use of moving forward.

However, this is something that companies and clients need to be able to work on as a two-way street. It will be preferable to clients to have a flexible contract, but they will need to be able to prove to the suppliers that they can  offer them something in return, according to one expert.

IT contracts expert Iain Monaghan of Pinsent Masons, said: “Buyers need to balance the cost they are prepared to pay for IT with the benefits that new technology can deliver. Suppliers are less resistant to renegotiating existing contracts if buyers can show that there is a reason for change and that the change offers a new business opportunity to the supplier. This is why constant engagement with suppliers is important. The contract is meant to embody a relationship with the supplier.”

What does the growth of GIS mean for BI

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 2, 2013

Business Intelligence (BI) software has been used by more and more firms across the globe in the last few years as they look to get a hold on the massive amounts of data that has become available and analyse it succinctly and efficiently in order to ensure that they are making the best decisions and advancing well as a firm.

However, new technologies come around or grow all the time, and in many cases these can change the way that BI is utilised, or indeed how effective it is as a tool.

One of these has been the growth of geographical technology in the consumer market. Consumers are now able to access a range of different applications that will use satellites to show them how to get somewhere, and this is increasingly used to show the nearest and most convenient locations for them to access shops and other services.

So what does the rise of this kind of technology – Geographical information systems (GIS) – the sort of which is used in Google Maps and other apps, mean for the BI market at the current time?

According to information released by market analyst firm Pringle & Company, one of the main reasons BI is becoming popular is because of the increasing need and desire to track information, and the sheer volume of things that can be tracked.

It said that the market is set to grow exponentially over the course of the next four years from $76 billion (£48.9 billion) to around $143 billion by the year 2016.

However, the use of GIS in this equation can make it a much more worthwhile venture for companies looking to steal a further march on the opposition.

The organisation said that use of GIS with BI can mean having an unprecedented view of the business, customers, opposition and the opportunities that are inherent within.

More people now make use of mobile technology such as phones and tablets when they are out and about to help them not only work or play away from the home and office, but also to find things that they need to through maps.

The company said that making decisions based on data collected through GIS can help for the better targeting of decisions that are made and stronger visualisation, strategic planning. It also said that decisions can be made faster and more intelligently.

James Buckley, writing for Business 2 Consumer, said of the rise of GIS and its use in BI: “By combining the new consumer perspective on GIS technology with more effective tools, the revelations about business opportunities based on location aren’t happening in isolation anymore. Now, that information is easily converted to actionable insights that drive sales, IT or business development.”

Global BI market to grow annually by 8% in five years

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 2, 2013

The worldwide market for the use of business intelligence (BI) software is set to grow at a rapid rate over the coming few years, a report that has been released by Research and Markets has revealed.

The findings show that the global market for the technology in 2018 will be worth some $20.81 billion (£13.4 billion), rising considerably from the $13.98 billion that it is worth in 2013. This will mark a worldwide growth in the space of just five years that amounts to an 8.28 per cent compound annual growth rate as use of the technology continues to grow among businesses and markets.

It said that the fastest rate of growth anywhere in the world will be seen in North America. In this market in particular, BI will continue to be more and more popular to the end that the continent commands 49 per cent of the entire BI spend worldwide. Although this is the case, it will still be a technology that continues to grow across the rest of the globe as well.

The rise in BI comes as more and more firms see the advantages of using the technology. The analytical tools can assess a range of different data and help to work out how to stay ahead of the competition, and its advances in recent years have seen it become one of the most vital pieces of software for many big global companies.

The increasing volume of data and big data available to firms around the world has made the use of analytics without these specialised tools a no-go for most forward-thinking organisations, and this is something that is set to be extended over the next few years.

So why do firms now make use of this more than ever?

According to the research, BI has proven itself as an effective piece of software and tool over a number of years thanks to the way it has helped companies see their performance on a better level and increase their profits by making the right decisions on the back of the data that has been collected.

They were faced with an increasingly difficult task in terms of data management, thanks to such roles as the fact that data has to be stored, consolidated and abstracted for future references and strategic planning of business processes.

Essentially, the rise of the technology has helped to simplify some of the most complex issues that companies around the globe were having to deal with. According to Markets and Research, these included: tracking and monitoring of business activities; analysis and presentation of large volumes of transactions carried out by business activities; control of the execution of strategy through effective monitoring of key performance indicators (KPI); and assisting in the slicing and dicing of the data that is needed for the decision making processes.

The rise of the cloud in BI: How to take advantage

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on September 2, 2013

The cloud is becoming ever-more important in the world of business intelligence so it is important to know how to take advantage.

Business intelligence (BI) software is a concept that more and more business across the world are getting a hold on, using the analytics technology to steal a march on the competition and get ahead of the game.

However, despite the innovative nature of BI itself, there are always new developments, and this has meant changes that companies need to stay on top of – one of the most pertinent of these has been the rise of cloud-based BI software.

The cloud allows business to access this technology from anywhere in the world, allowing for remote working from home and business trips, which can cause large-scale savings throughout a number of years, but how do businesses take advantage of these advances and make sure they are using them to their advantage?

Price

There is no doubt that in its infancy BI technology was something aimed at largely the biggest companies around the world, as those with the deepest pockets were able to shell out on what was an expensive luxury.

However, as it has developed and prices have come down, and particularly since the technology moved into the cloud, it has become something far more accessible to smaller firms as well.

To make the most of this, it is vital to shop around and do some research before committing. A smaller outlay on the right BI technology for the job can end up making all the difference to the bottom line.

Security

With any cloud technology, security becomes an issue. While with office-based software, someone more often than not has to be present to take advantage of any security lapses, the cloud can allow for cyber attacks more commonly.

For this reason, businesses need to ensure that they are choosing a vendor with a good track record for things like encryption and ensuring that only the right people have access to the cloud. This can stop vital information from being leaked to the wrong people and damaging the business.

Training staff well can also ensure that security is high. If they are going to be working on the cloud for the first time, it’s vital that they know how to keep the data they use safe and not risk it being accessed by unauthorised parties.

Mobile access

Being able to access the cloud over mobile channels is one of the biggest advantages of the modern age, and so ensuring that your BI vendor can provide this is an absolute necessity.

All staff will have access to mobile phones and tablets, so it can be great to put these to good use and get the maximum amount of work that businesses can from their staff. When people are travelling between offices or on business trips, having access to BI via the cloud will ensure that they can still work and capitalise on their time away from the workplace.

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.