Data-driven business processes are not a nice-to-have but a need-to-have capability today. So, if you’re an executive, manager, or team leader, one of your toughest assignments is managing and organizing your analytics and reporting initiative.
The days of business as usual are over. Data generation costs are falling everyday. The cost of collection and storage is also falling. The speed of insight-to-action business requirement is increasing. Systems of Record, Systems of Engagement, Systems of Insight are being transformed with consumerization and digital.
With this tsunami of data and new applications, the bottleneck is clearly shifting from transaction processing to Analytics & Insight-driven “sense-and-respond” Action. This slide from IBM’s Investor Briefing summarizes the data-driven transformation underway in most businesses.
Better/Faster/Cheaper Analytics Execution
Obsolete KPIs can be Lethal
In the Aesopian fable of the one-eyed stag, a deer overcomes his visual handicap by grazing on a cliff near the sea with his good eye facing the land. Since all his known dangers were on land, this keeps him safe from predators for a very long time – until he is killed by a hunter in a boat.
The relevance of our KPIs can make or break our business. KPIs are often defined as static metrics for an enterprise and can easily become outdated. Economic uncertainty and competitive pressures are prompting questions on the validity of KPIs and performance management processes. To stay competitive requires a process of continually validating metrics with the business environment.
Another common challlenge with KPIs is that there are too many of them. Modern technology has gven us the ability to measure a very large number of parameters in the business. Some of these are more relevant than others. Jack Welch is known to have said, ”Too often we measure everything and understand nothing”. Monitoring some metrics and ignoring others are decisions we make based on our business perspective.
Relevance Enabled by Process
How do you decide on which KPI’s are most relevant to success? An often overlloked first step is to understand that primary business goals before looking at the technology solution. Avinash Kaushik defines KPIs simply as “Measures that help you understand how you are doing against your objectives”. This fundamental aproach is a good way of weeding out items which are not relevant to what we want as a business and avoid adverse surprises. At a more deeper level, building a robust Business Analytics solution requires answers to questions such as:
1. What events have the greatest impact on the busiens and how are they measured?
2. How often do you validate that you are measuring the right parameters ?
3. What instrumentation do you need to create the right dashbords for your KPI’s ? Can this instrumentation be updatd as teh KPIs change?
4. What is the process for collecting, synthesizing, manipulating and presenting the data to represent thsese metrics? How does the process change when if the metric change?
5. What technologies and architecture are necessary to support those decision-making patterns? Is there need for a “single source of truth” or a federated model possible?
Centers of Excellence
Needless to say, this approach requires a tight inegration between the business owners and IT acrchitects. A recent study by Gartner says that ”IT collaboration initiatives fail because IT leaders hold mistaken assumptions about basic issues…..rather than making technology the starting point, IT leaders should first identify real business problems and key performance indicators (KPIs) that link to business goals.”
Many business executives believe that IT is unable to deliver results where it counts. At the same time, IT organizations spend an incredible amount of time, money and resources simply reporting obvious data within their business process and workflows.
An organizational solution to this problem is the creation of a Competency Center or Center of Excellence (CoE) with representation from from both business and IT and shared objectives. The CoE defines the blueprint for implementing BI, Performance Management and Analytics aligend with KPIs. Some of the obvious benefits include:
- Cost savings from eliminating Silos
- Better collaboration between Business and IT
- Joint ownership of corporate objectives
There are other aspects of the CoE which make it a practical approach to creating an effective vehicle for deploying analytics solutions. The sheer volume and texture of busienss data is much more complicated than it has ever been in modern busienss history. The world’s data doubles every two years creating more opportunities for analyses. Understanding this data even at an aggregate level requires a business perspective combined with technological expertise. Furthernore, understanding technologies such as Big Data for unstrcutured data analysis requires business leaders and IT eimplementors to work together.
The CoE is the ideal structire to implement a Business Perspective Solution. A well implemented Business Perspective Solution takes into account the key objectives of the busienss, leverages sophisticated analytics technologies and focuses on sustainable processes to support decision making in an organization.
Superior decisions based on business perspective separate winners from losers.
Are your KPIs in sync with your business perspectives? Please share your comments below.
1. Six Web Metrics / Key Performance Indicators To Die For by Avinash Kaushik, Occam’s Razor
2. Practical BI – What CEOs want from BI and Analytics by Ravi Kalakota, Business Analytics 3.0
3. The Stupidity of KPIs in Business Analytics by Mark Smith, Ventana Reasearch
- How to convert Lookers to Bookers…
- How to create unique and effective Digital Experiences that impact probability of purchase or likelihood of return.
- What offers might result in higher “take rates”
The change in consumer behavior and expectations that e-commerce, mobile and social media are causing is hugely significant – big data and predictive analytics will separate brand/retail winners from losers. This won’t happen overnight but the transformation is for real.
Retail Industry makes up a sizable part of the world economy (6-7%) and covers a large ecosystem – E-commerce, Apparel, Department Stores, Discount Drugstores, Discount Retailers, Electronics, Home Improvement, Specialty Grocery, Specialty Retailers and Consumer Product Goods suppliers.
Retail is increasingly is looking like a barbell – a brand oriented cluster at the high-end, a very thin middle, and a price sensitive cluster at the low end. The consumerization of technology is putting more downward pricing pressure in an already competitive “middle” retail environment. The squeeze is coming from e-commerce and new “point, scan and analyze” technologies that give shoppers decision making tools — powerful pricing, promotion and product information, often in real-time. Applications in iPhones and Droid, like Red Laser can scan barcodes and provide immediate price, product and cross-retailer comparisons. They can even point you to the nearest retailer who can give you free shipping (total cost of purchase optimization). This will lead to further margin erosion for retailers that compete based on price (a sizable chunk of the market in the U.S, Europe and Asia).
Data analytics is not new for retailers. Point of sale transactional data obtained from bar-codes first appeared in 1970s. A pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum was the first item scanned using Universal Product Code (UPC) in a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio in 1974. Since then, retailers have been applying analytics to get even smarter and speedup the entire industry value chain.
More recent use cases of retail analytics include: Read more
Who doesn’t want to achieve faster “time-to-information” and shorter “time-to-decision” for executives and managers with mobile BI? Who doesn’t want to disseminate insights or KPIs to front-line employees, such as field sales representatives, line of business managers, and field service employees?
The question is not whether Mobile BI is a good idea but how to execute this program in a low-cost way? How to design and deploy eye-popping “wow” apps? How to support, maintain and enhance these apps which are constantly changing? What technology and infrastructure to put in for a national or global deployment? Who is going to fund all this plumbing – corporate, LoB or IT?
Business Analytics solutions for “always-on” 3/4G enabled mobile devices – iPads, iPhones, tablets, smart phones – are becoming prevalent as the form factor becomes appropriate for BI. We are increasingly seeing firms build state-of-the-art dashboard solutions for iPads. The “post-desktop” apps provide senior management with intuitive interactive access to the company’s most important business KPIs and dealing with data overload.
Tablets, 4G Wireless and next gen displays (+gesture based, verbal interfaces) have enabled new productivity improvements and better ways to consume information, perform ad-hoc querying and scenario planning. Dashboard, heatmaps and scorecards on the iPad, iPhones and Androids are intuitive, attractive, powerful, available at any time and any place: a perfect mix for top managers, sales teams and even customers.
BI (and Information Management) is a natural fit for mobile devices. Managers, blue and white workers spend a majority of their time away from their desks. Most are traveling, walking about or driving from site to site. And it’s these mobile workers who need the most up-to-date information. They need mobile BI to retrieve data to make on-the-spot decisions, monitor operational processes and review KPI, and work-in-process dashboards.