Business Analytics Adoption Part 3: Planning and Analysis
In my previous blogs we looked at the early steps on the journey to business analytics adoption where companies take the first tentative steps. We looked at how companies use Business Intelligence Reporting tools to extend their operational reporting capabilities and how after a time they start experiencing performance issues.
In my second blog post we saw how companies build a data warehouse to support their enterprise reporting solutions.
In this blog I look at where our journey takes us:
We have created a data warehouse and it’s supporting a number of reports for the business however a DWH is never 100% completed. Companies continue to grow, they expand into new areas of business and these require new reporting requirements which in turn may require new data to be added to the DWH. So what are the next steps on our journey? Well, there are several steps that may be tackled at this stage of our journey, these may be tackled in series or parallel. One area I’m very keen to encourage our customers to achieve is to “Sweat the Asset” they have already paid for.
Sweat your Assets
You have invested in the BI reporting software. You have invested the time and money to build your data warehouse, now is the time to reap the rewards. Looking at the customers we engage with, this is where the majority of them are today on their journey. BI has become an established must have technology for today’s businesses. Long gone is the ready acceptance of reports not being delivered on time. Our customers expect reports to be delivered on time, accurately and to any device they may be using at the time. We need to use the myriad of capabilities in our BI Tools to deliver advanced functionality to our end users.
Just about every BI tool now offers high class visualisation capabilities to present data in ways that provides an easy to understand presentation to the business users. The old saying of “A Picture Paints a Thousand Words” is just as applicable to BI reporting as it is to any other form of data presentation. So let’s build on what you have and create high impact visual reporting solution for the business, delivered to any device, anywhere. The technology is available now, all you have to do is embrace it. Let’s become proactive with our reporting and build reports that are triggered by events in the data. Focused reporting, delivered to the appropriate user when its relevant is far more effective than delivering the same report every day. Again, this can be achieved today at little expense but with great effect.
Build reporting that encourages data discovery. Empower your users to follow lines of thought through drill down reports. Don’t just send emails with report attachments, send links to report that encourage your users to visit the BI portal, this way the users may discover other reporting options that have been created and provide them with more information about the business performance. Encourage feedback. Engaged users that feel they are being listened to and are more valuable to the business, however we must react to their feedback quickly and positively or they will lose interest.
There is so much we can do together to make your reporting system work harder for your business. If you are stuck and would like some assistance in achieving real value from your reporting then give us a call, we are more than happy to give you a helping hand.
Data Modelling and Financial Planning
Most of what we provide with Business Intelligence reporting is about what we can see in our “rear view mirror”. By this I mean, what have we just done, what did we do yesterday, last month and last year. Businesses are able to use this useful data to gain insight in the business performance, however we need to plan how we can best use this information to further improve. We need to look at how we plan for the future, and to do this there are various modelling tools available, where we can take the data collected in the data warehouse and apply certain assumptions and formulae to work out what we need to do going forward.
What we are striving to achieve is a plan to move the business forward that improves our performance. This is known as Financial Performance Management (FPM). Typically, this area of Business Analytics emanates from the Office of Finance and results in forecasts and budgets being created for the business. These budgets and forecasts are then input back into our data warehouse and are used to measure performance of the business using our BI tools. Although usually driven by the office of finance other areas of the business can benefit from these planning tools. Areas like production planning, business development planning can all use these tools to plan the business activities.
Another area of the Business Performance delivery model is predictive analysis. This is where a small subset of users within a business (data analysts) use tools to build predictive models based upon a selective data set. These tools use statistical algorithms to look at trends within the company’s data and ask questions about what the likely outcome will be if certain business decisions were to be made. For example, we may ask the question “What is the likely effect on our sales turnover if we increase the price of our best performing products by 10%”. Using previously captured data and the statistical algorithms we can predict the likely outcome.
Predictive analytics is certainly an area that is attracting more attention from our customers as they strive to improve the performance of their businesses. Standard algorithms within todays predictive tools can be used, however the best results are achieved using specialist statistically trained staff that understand the nuances of each algorithm and know what the results mean to our business planning.
Above are three areas we are seeing as next steps regarding business analytic applications. In my next blog I will look at how some of the internet technologies and Big Data are offering our clients a challenge on the continual journey to business analytics adoption.
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