IT Roadmap – Is IT Efficiency Getting Ahead of an Integrated Vision?

By: Chris Tabish

Business Intelligence

I was the program leader of a CIO visioning effort at a Fortune 500 technology company where the target was to demonstrate the use of its own products for internal operations, aka ‘drink your own wine’.

The project seemed to have everything needed to successfully showcase their exceptional networking and software products.  The company was committed to carrying out the vision, and it dedicated the right leaders for the job—credible and very influential.

But the leaders also had a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver ‘drink your own wine’ quick hits, or short-term, tactical achievements.  This quick hit delivery tempo was part of the company’s culture.  The common belief was these quick hits would keep the overall vision program visible and credible.

One of the first quick hits was an internal ‘Service Operations Center’.  This center would provide technical support to the rest of the company which would soon be using its own products per the vision.  The initial plan was for the operations center to be deployed offshore.  This way, the company could provide 24×7 coverage while saving 40% in labor.  Smart, right?

Then, along came a vision…

Shortly after the quick hit project was launched, the company finalized the ‘drink your own wine’ vision.  Part of this vision articulated a state-of-the art operations center with big-screen TV’s  to display global maps monitoring the company’s products, capabilities and throughput.  This operations center, in fact, would pin-point potential issues before any employee had an indication of the problem, all made possible by the company’s own products.

Best of all, visiting customers would see this slick, professional operation when they went into the onshore facility and—uhhh, wait a minute—-did you just hear a record scratch?  (For those of you born after 1990, that’s a bad thing).  If the company was going to have a state-of-the-art, onshore operation, then what was it doing building itoffshore?

This was a quick hit launched by smart people with great intentions.  However, it still went awry.  In fact, the quick hit had a spend upwards of $1 million by the time it was realized that it wasn’t in alignment with the vision.  What went wrong?  In short, it was not aligned with the vision.  An integrated vision gives CIOs a broad perspective of the playing field so they can factor in all applicable considerations, in this case ‘marketing potential’ in addition to just ‘cost savings’.  This is why having an integrated vision before  launching costly implementations is so critical.

Chris Tabish is Executive Vice President for Bodhtree, which guides SMB and Fortune 500 companies in maximizing the long-term value of their IT investments.  Bodhtree specializes in Product Engineering, Analytics, Cloud Services, and Enterprise Services, providing a cost-effective strategy to align IT with the enterprise’s core vision.

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What BI Can and Cannot Do for Growing Midsize Enterprises

As the volume and complexity of data expands, it affects, transforms and disrupts the way midsize companies conduct business. As these companies grow, there is also a transformation in the way employees interact with that data: There are more users accessing it, and they want to access the data in different ways than ever before.

For instance, there are inventory managers who need self-service reporting and cannot wait weeks for reports. There are sales managers who need to drill up or down into sales by territory, SKU and product family. There are marketing managers who want to analyze campaigns against prior results, but historical data is not retained. There are finance pros who need to identify and prioritize problem areas on a real-time basis. And then there are IT managers who must enhance reporting environments but lack the staff, budget, and time and expertise to deploy and maintain BI.

And that’s probably just a partial list of what’s happening at your company.

Today’s BI software can offer help for midsize companies grappling with these growth challenges. However, there are many things BI software can’t do. Setting clear expectations and knowing the difference between the two will help midsize companies get value from their BI software purchases. By providing important capabilities for data integration, quality and master data management, those companies that start an EIM and BI project will provide users access to trusted information and overcome silos, data inconsistencies and hidden assets.

BI provides business users with access to the information they’re looking for via several different types of reports—including managed, ad-hoc, analytics, dashboards, production and operational reporting. Users can have it any way they like today, giving them a range of insights for managing performance and the ability to:

• Access and transform corporate data into highly formatted reports for greater insight
• Leverage dashboards to visualize data trends for better decision-making capabilities
• Analyze historical data trends from complex historical data and to improve forecasts
• Interact with information for fast response to ad-hoc questions
• Find immediate answers to business questions
• Deliver information across the organization for an empowered mobile workforce

While these advantages provide critical insights to help guide business growth, organizations cannot expect BI to be a magic bullet to resolve all issues. We advise caution in order to build the best solution and set more realistic expectations for users. Remember: Tools alone will not transform your business.

Three Things BI Can’t Do for Midsize Enterprises

1. Solve All the Problems at Once

Focus on top business and IT issues—and then prioritize from there. A clear, tangible roadmap will help determine what can be accomplished—both in the short and long term. A phased approach based on common priorities across business units is critical.

For example, Bodhtree recently helped a global provider of broadband communication in the high-tech industry with an assessment of their enterprise readiness for business analytics. We determined where the organization currently was in the analytics lifecycle—such as, what was the current state in data warehouse technology environment, sources of information and overall architecture. Then we outlined the appropriate steps (short-term, mid-term and long-term) needed to make analytics work for their organization.

The results were tangible and actionable—a strategic roadmap mapped the overall picture and health of analytics within the organization. The roadmap also identified how to map out the business drivers to resolve their business and IT needs and challenges, as well as key pressing issues. Within weeks, their organization understood what hardware they needed to procure, what software solution would work for their organization, what issues they needed to resolve first for their line of business groups, and most importantly, what level of effort and confidence was required to execute all plans.

2. Resolve All Data Integrity Issues

BI can help identify, extract, profile and analyze where data quality problems exist. But it’s up to the business to make changes through a clear business process.

For example, Bodhtree implemented a world-class business analytics solution for a global consumer electronics leader. Key transactional data were integrated from a myriad of sources: demand generation, order management, web click stream, promotions, phone switches, campaign management, products, discounts or coupons, returns and warranties, POS and service centers. Yet, troubling issues surfaced related to the business process in campaign generation and management. The BI solution was able to identify the data quality problems, but it was up to the organization to revisit the way campaigns would be generated and segmented at their initial conception to enable a more efficient and effective way to track performance and ROI.

3. Ensure User Adoption

An “if you build it they will come” approach won’t satisfy all users. It’s important to include users in the BI planning process, so they will eventually become BI evangelists.

A prime example was a “single source of information” solution Bodhtree delivered for a global medical device maker that enabled them to have an accurate, timely, trusted, integrated view of their business. A critical part of this business analytics project was the importance of the device maker’s organizational readiness, which was highly emphasized right from the start. Bodhtree made certain to involve the business users at various stages in the lifecycle of the solution implementation (from strategy, assessment, tool selection, design and implementation). This allowed some of the early adopters to become change agents and analytics evangelists to help ensure other users adapted and accepted the new platform and solution, and ultimately led to the success of the project.

Many BI software vendors have recognized the value in the midmarket (including SAP) and are offering attractive pricing on solutions that meet traditional business needs. There are numerous BI solutions available to SME customers today; some claim to resolve “problems” within weeks. However, they may not be able to scale with your business growth, nor flex with your changing needs. Choose wisely.

Kain A. Sosa is Vice President of Analytics at Bodhtree, a global provider of IT business consulting and solution integration services headquartered in Fremont, Calif. Bodhtree maximizes customer potential by offering value-added solutions around four key areas of focus: Analytics, Cloud, Mobility and Enterprise services. Bodhtree is a gold channel partner in the SAP PartnerEdge™ program and a master value-added reseller of SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (SAP BI) solutions, with extensive expertise in delivering BI solutions built on SAP technology.

Published in ASUGnews on April 3,2012

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Stop Spreadsheet Chaos with SAP® BusinessObjects™ from Bodhtree

Most organizations use spreadsheets as their standard analytical tool and spend significant efforts to obtain data for making critical business decisions. Business Intelligence: The Definitive Guide for Midsize Organizations from SAP provides a comprehensive overview of BI and the facts you need to make an educated investment that will change the course of your business for years to come!

BI allows business users to analyze and better understand organization’s plans and results. It provides insight into what’s working correctly while identifying potential problem areas in time for corrective actions to be taken. It can be used to recognize opportunities as well as problems, and alert your organization to potential issues when exception conditions occur—such as sales dropping 20% below forecast or inventory falling below a threshold value.

The following scenarios represent typical situations that could benefit from improved business intelligence (BI):

Multiple versions of the truth. Interdepartmental meetings frequently turn into shouting matches as participants argue about whose spreadsheet has the correct figures.

Inability to perform in-depth analysis. Your company knows which of its retail outlets have the greatest sales volume, but it doesn’t know which products have the highest sales.

Need for simple-to-use production reporting technology. Your accounting department uses a word processor to generate customer invoices. Customers frequently complain about being invoiced twice for the same purchase or shipment.

Historical values are not being retained. The sales department is conducting account reviews and wishes to compare each customer’s sales-to-date this year with its sales-to-date at this time last year. Sales maintains a spreadsheet for this year’s results, but the person who maintained the spreadsheet last year has left the company—and no one has any idea what happened to last year’s spreadsheet.

Business Intelligence provides relevant, actionable and near real-time information for enhanced decision-making capabilities. Find out how you can improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness – and eliminate Spreadsheet Chaos – with Business Intelligence: The Definitive Guide for Midsize Organizations.

Download Business Intelligence: The Definitive Guide for Midsize Organizations – and see what SAP BusinessObjects can do for you.

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Better, Faster and More Insightful Decisions through Automation and Decision Support

Decision support and  Automation for Every one

Employees at all levels within your company make decisions on a daily basis that has a direct impact on your business.  Do they have the right information – when it’s needed – to make the best decisions possible?

Download this IDC White Paper – Decision Support and Automation for Everyone – and learn how you can arm your employees the tools they need to make better, faster more insightful decisions with Business Intelligence and Analytics.

Bodhtree Solutions is an established SAP Gold Partner and Master Value-Added Reseller (MVAR) of SAP BusinessObjects business analytics solutions.  Bodhtree’s solutions are designed for optimal integration within existing IT environments to consistently maximize business performance.

Learn more about Bodhtree’s expertise with business solutions from SAP

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