Navigating the Big Data Tsumani

Business Intelligence

Having just returned from a Big Data conference about the state of our technology ecosystem with respect to the explosion of data, a thought came to mind that history repeats itself. You may wonder, since we’ve never faced data challenges of this magnitude or complexity, what insights can history offer?

When faced with previous tech tsunamis like www in the late 1990s or smartphones in the mid-2000s, many customers and vendors joined the bandwagon trying to establish themselves as key players in the space. With a lot of money spent, only a few emerged as true game changers while most remained spectators in the technology revolutions.

As a vendor if you recognize this time period as a tsunami of Big Data-enabled capabilities being unleashed on the market, it is important to decide early on what your role will be. Do you want to simply ride the wave and hope for a spot on a lucrative customer budget, or will you identify the core value that you and your products bring to the market and invest in it over the next 12-24 months?

The value that you bring could be in any form, e.g. build an army of Data Scientists for the market or provide a product to solve a Big Data problem. In this tsunami of capabilities there are certain areas where demand will constantly remain high, such as Data Cleansing. Whether data is structured or unstructured, the need for quality input to any Big Data solution is critical to generate valuable output. My recommendation to the vendors playing in the Big Data revolution is to quickly define your role, build your space and stick to it. Avoid saying “We are a Big Data vendor” – it will only sound superficial and lacking in real value. Be more specific about how you and your company will make your mark in this Big Data tsunami of capabilities.

Manju Devadas is VP of Solutions and Technology for Bodhtree, a leader in data analytics and product engineering.  Bodhtree partners with SAP and Informatica to assist companies in leveraging enterprise data to gain a competitive edge in the market.  Bodhtree also offers the MIDAS product suite, which migrates, cleanses and integrates data between SalesForce, SAP and legacy platforms.

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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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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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Business Analytics-in-a-Box for High Tech

SAP BusinessObjects
You’ve been thinking about Business Analytics and you know that it’s right for your business. You know that SAP® BusinessObjects™ is the industry leader in providing powerful business solutions to more than 64,000 emerging businesses like yours.

Take advantage of our specially priced offer and save 25% on Business Analytics from SAP and Bodhtree. Get the results you want with the business insight and agility you need with SAP and Bodhtree.

Bodhtree Solutions, an SAP Gold Partner and Master Value-Added Reseller, can provide you with the right SAP solution that will transform how you manage your business and drive profitable growth.

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

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