Tag Archives: business intelligence software

Avoiding your frustrations in BI

29 Mar

I cannot say for certain that every; in fact, most organizations that endeavors business intelligence (BI) sees a demonstrable business benefit from it. They find it unmanageable, more perplexed and more pricy than they expected and are unable to quantify the business benefits gained from it. Thus, Organizations has been investing in or working on BI for some period of time, are only partially satisfied with it and are frustrated more with the implementations.

So what should an Organization do to avoid these frustrations?

Let us see this one by one.

Missing Strategy:

Forgetting to create a strategy before BI implementation is one of the common mistake that many organizations do before investing into it. The company must know what is the exact intention of implementing a BI in their organization, why are they implementing it, how a BI will drive their organization towards business benefits, ROI of the Organization etc.

Most of the companies fail to do these ground level researches within their organization. The management staffs involved in approving the budget is also not willing to do so. The reason may be they either don’t understand the benefits of a BI or they expect some else to do the ground level research and they will use it. This is the core factor that causes the downfall of BI in an organization.

Business intelligence is just like any other business improvement technique: there must be a strategy/plan/roadmap that describes exactly what it will do, how the organization must change to leverage it, and specifically how having it will drive positive business results.

Prior Preparations for a BI initiative:

 Before you plan for a new BI initiative, or looking to revamp a stalled BI program you need to make sure that your time, effort and money are not wasted. In order to foresee a successful implementation companies should have a track on necessary pre-conditions to achieve better outcomes.

What are these pre-conditions?

Pre-conditions are nothing but few prior preparations that you need to do before identifying a BI initiative

  • Make sure your quality of data as the quality of the information is directly proportional to the quality of the data that you provide
  • Make sure if you have a proper framework in place for managing and prioritizing your BI investments
  • Make sure your employees or your vendor has necessary BI skill sets to use the technical methods in BI. Especially when you consider executives with less computer knowledge, they experience a very tough time with BI challenges. So executives must be aware of the challenges they might come across during BI initiative.
  • Ensure your organization is aware of all the change management challenges in BI. In other words, it basically is a thought process; any time we’re asking someone to change the way they think about a problem or business situation, change management is a critical element They also need to identify and manage the risk involved with a BI initiative i.e. risks must be predicted, discerned and mitigate prior challenging your organization.

If your organization is capable to handle these pre-conditions, then you have crossed 50% of the frustrations in implementing a BI solution.

Lost Directions:

Assume that you are travelling on a road to success, at a point there are several roads diverging in different directions. What will you do, if you do not know the exact direction to success? obviously you will end up it losing your direction. The similar scenario happens in BI too. Organizations having multiple data warehouses, data repositories, BI environments, multiple BI tool sets, and multiple user communities lose directions while accomplishing BI.  The risk involved in such an approach leads to duplicated cost/effort and Incremental technical complexity and cost from multiple similar technologies in use. All those multiples are not necessarily bad, but they should not indicate an undiscriminating approach to BI.  It is a best approach to have the initial venture into BI with best guided by a BI strategy/roadmap and a BI data architecture plan.

Improper Execution

BI applications are not easy to use. It involves lots of user knowledge on tools and data structures and lots of manual effort. It takes too long for the BI team to complete projects or even to fulfill requests for minor enhancements/modifications or new reports and dashboards.  Your company may have well-articulated requirements, a sound BI strategy, and a good set of tools, but might not be good at designing, building, maintaining, and supporting BI applications.  The consequences would eventually leads to your BI applications that run slowly, break frequently, are hard to use, deliver uncertain results, take longer to build and cost more than they should. These factors indicate that your company’s BI execution is unconventional.

A Successful BI execution requires the following capabilities

  • Adequate financial support from the management of an Organization
  • Employees or external vendors  should have essential BI skill and complete involvement in the BI projects
  • Use of a BI-specific development methodology
  • Project management and change management skills and discipline

BI Impact

This is a common scenario faced by the organizations. They have invested, have one or more BI applications in hand, but they are unclear about the impact. The actual reasons are

The decision makers of the organization are not capturing the business value of their BI investments, limited usage of the BI that has been deployed and Key decision-makers in the business do not use information from the existing BI system. These reasons proportionally affect the additional funding for BI and increase the number of unsatisfied users in an organization who are to be the key decision makers. To overcome this scenario companies have to gather little information within their departments.

  • Who are the major users in the company
  • What and how the information from a BI tool will be utilized
  • Which KPIs or strategic objectives will be advanced by it

Just by doing this little research you can easily overcome the related challenges and feel the BI impact within your organization.

The above discussed points may help you to overcome your frustrations and at the same time all these frustrations have proven solutions through successful implementation history by companies like ZSL. However, BI can be challenging to do well, but the potential business benefits make it worth the effort.

Would you like to know our successful implementation?

Would you like to see our happy customers who have come out of these frustrations?

Would you like to see a demo on our Business Intelligence and Datawarehousing (BI/DW) services

Email me your interests Shaughn Knight, AVP – Business Development and Inside Sales Operations.

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SmartPrise BI for Healthcare, Banking, Finance, Telecom, Pharma & Life Sciences, Travel & Logistics, Wholesale & Retail

26 Mar

ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® is the complete end-to-end Enterprise Intelligence solution for small-to-mid enterprises, which enables them to monitor, report and analyze their business performance effectively. The solution enables the enterprises to transform data into business-critical information that helps them to scale as well strategically plan to improve their business performance. SmartPrise BI Mobile for Health is developed based on Cognos, SSRIS, Business Objects, Spotfire, Xcelsius and can fit with any leading ERP & CRM applications that include Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, SAP & Oracle.

SmartPrise BI® suite provides enterprises accurate, consistent and clear data in the form of reports, scorecards and dashboards that acts as a key information for decision and policy makers to give consents, frame policies and guidelines and allocate funds for different planned and ongoing activities across the organization. The suite is addressed to meet the intelligence analytics needs of wide range of industry verticals which includes Healthcare, Banking, Finance, Telecom, Pharma & Life Sciences, Travel & Logistics, Wholesale & Retail.

ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® suite includes:

  • Enterprise Data Warehousing: ZSL follows on industry best practices in developing and delivering data warehousing platforms that span the business and analytical data warehouse needs of the enterprises.
  • Enterprise Data Management: the platform brings together the various data sources through integration between various application systems such as CRM, ERP, Legacy and third-party applications and is organized and managed through well-built service oriented data architecture.
  • Enterprise Data Delivery: ZSL’s SmartPrise BI® suite is flexible and agile that enables the users to have data drilled to any nuances and is delivered in any preferred format such as pie-charts, graphs, dashboards, reports and more. The reports can also be posted into a portal, emailed to users or allow for web-based access.

SmartPrise BI® suite is available for multiple deployment models – On Demand, SaaS & Cloud.

SmartPrise BI® Mobile
The mobile enablement of SmartPrise BI® suite enables the end users to access the mission critical reports over their smart phones and tablets such as iPhones, iPad, Blackberry, Windows Mobile & Brew devices.

Key Benefits

  • Key information that analyses your present and past business performance and guides the decision makers to frame and consent policies and processes suitable to the organization at time of need
  • Serves as a yardstick to measure your employee productivity, operation efficiency and business performance as a result of your new policies and programs
  • Proven and successful methodologies to extract, manage and deliver data
  • Centrally managed data, business hierarchies, rules and calculations to eliminate data silos and inconsistencies throughout the organization
  • Proven and cost-effective BI&DW methodologies built on prudent architecture powered by IBM Cognos which offers seamless integration between various data sources and compatible for SOA, Web 2.0 and BPM capabilities
  • Easy to interpret and analyze data using reports, charts, scorecards and dashboards in preferred formats that has a rich new look & feel and instantly accessible over web and mobile devices
  • Faster implementation services and simple configuration procedures saving 30% of your time and money involved in implementation and roll-out
  • Flexible, role-based security model to protect the reports and reporting resources appropriately and also includes extensible interfaces for integrating other security models if desired

Is your organization looking for a BI tool? Have your organization chosen the right one?

Email me your interests Shaughn Knight, AVP – Business Development and Inside Sales Operations.

Business Intelligence Is More Important Than Ever

28 Feb

From CRM to Supply chain management there are around 200 and above categories of software that helps companies in back office and front office operations which are considered to be an essential segment for a proper business management. Most companies require both these segments and the one particular tool that’s becoming more indispensable is the business intelligence and data warehousing (BI/DW) software enabling more effective business process management (BPM) by providing comprehensive analytics that are primal to sustain and support profitability and growth of an organization.

What is Business Intelligence (BI)?

Business intelligence (BI) can be interpreted as a broad category of applications and technologies for accumulating, stacking, analyzing, and supplying access to data to help organizations/users make better business decisions. BI/DW applications include the activities of decision support systems, query and reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), statistical analysis, forecasting, and data mining. Thus leveraging data from various systems, applications, and databases, business intelligence software users can make the best-informed decisions more efficiently.

Key Benefits of Business Intelligence

Companies of all sizes can benefit from business intelligence software, and it is important to consider the fact that companies acting without it are in a sense running on gut feelings. Every company needs to think on its feet, and leverage its enterprise data for the greatest advantage. After all, this data is essential for conducting and understanding mission-critical activities, operational patterns, and industry trends. Every company has varying needs, and there are a wide variety of benefits within each company;

  1. No More Guesstimate: Far too often, business data of organizations lacked unified structure and as a result guestimate was the best weapon for executives to make decisions while attempting to direct their companies into the future. Business intelligence can render precise historical data, forecasting and trending, real-time updates, synthesis between departmental data warehouse and even predictive ‘what if?’ analysis, eliminating the need to guesstimate.
  2. Mobility: Availability of Mobile based business intelligence applications provide walkthroughs for users/executives to access key business metrics, reports and dashboards on iPhone, iPad, Droid or BlackBerry, giving sales and marketing people access to critical business information on the go.
  3. Retain Your Customers: One of the great benefits of BI/DW tool is that it permits companies to attain visibility into what customers are buying or what they need , providing them the ability to gain additional profit and retain valuable customers.
  4. Selling Opportunities: BI/DW software permits organizations to leverage customer data to build, refine and modify predictive models that help sales executives to up-sell and cross-sell products at appropriate customer touch points
  5. Improve Efficiency: Apparent amount of time are wasted by companies in hunting data within their departments to find the information they want and process as a report to take a single decision. With the influence of business intelligence software, however, all the information is centralized and can be viewed in the form of dashboard or converted into a report, saving enormous amounts of time and improving efficiencies.
  6. Greater lucrativeness: Business intelligence software can provide users greater insight into manufacturing costs and the ability to line up production on the go for greater profitability
  7. Greater Inventory Management: BI helps organization to order the right amount of inventory at the right time so that customers receive their products when they need, thus avoiding over stocking
  8. Business Insight: Business Intelligence has been very successful at explicating the complete insight of your business over a period of time. The tool can provide you insights on how many units were sold, through which store, in which geography, or by which customer segment. Hence, these issues are now well understood, and so the next generation of competitive advantage comes from analyzing unstructured content to understand how and why these things happen. From simple content-based metrics to sophisticated sentiment analysis, business intelligence software can provide a more complete view on customer and competitor experience and opportunities therein and help executives plan for the future.

What to Look for in a Business Intelligence Software Solution

While Analyzing BI/DW solutions for your business management needs, there are a few important features to look for.

  • It’s a best way to find a web-based program, and one that offers unlimited data access as on-demand solution will provide accessibility for more users, and will support scalability should the company need to add more users and run more reports in the future.
  • Not all business intelligence software is fully scalable, so choose one that addresses specific capacity needs.
  • It is also important that a BI/DW tool should support several output formats, from spreadsheets to PDF documents for producing reports and to run the reports.
  • Corporate data can be highly complex, and reporting tools should support that. In the same vein, the platform should offer predictive analysis, unlimited data access, and complex visualizations.
  • The visualization abilities should range from simple charts and graphs, to maps, matrices, and histograms depending on the mathematical or scientific reporting necessity

Business Intelligence Is More Important Than Ever – Why?

Apparently, adopting a BI/DW solution is a smart step for companies of all sizes and in all industries because of its analytical possibilities and it is quite likely that soon, companies not adopting one will have a difficult time surviving the competitive world. Businesses are currently collecting more data than has been amassed before, and as a result IT organizations are spending billions of dollars investing in data warehouses and business intelligence tools.

In addition, with the surge or Web 2.0 technology within enterprise software, business intelligence systems are beginning to provide real-time information. Minimizing reaction time between an event’s occurrence the subsequent business decision is the most important point of business management, and while business intelligence solutions have been able to predict outcomes before, the availability of real-time data will further decrease any latency periods.

As you can see, BI/DW Solutions are more than just a reporting tool, as through recent technological advancements it now offers highly evolved predictive abilities. So when looking for business intelligence software, outline your goals and choose the scalable solution that best fits your informational needs. The more complicated your data, the more complex the visualizations should be; likewise, don’t select a convoluted system for simple data. And one thing your selection should include, no matter what your data needs, is real-time reporting and analysis.

Is your organization looking for a vendor? Have your organization chosen the right tool?

Email me your interests Shaughn Knight, AVP – Business Development and Inside Sales Operations.

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Measuring the Return on Investment for Business Intelligence

23 Jan

Justifying the value of business intelligence (BI) investments is unambiguously disputing, according to the senior management. Although business intelligence is rendering impressive returns in a variety of industries, perhaps it is very difficult to ideate an industry that doesn’t have a need for BI. On the other hand, the ROI for BI is centered on a business management debate that possibly results in the ROI assessment which is considered as one of the most important key for any organization. However there are no direct ROI equations or Industry standards to prove or measure the benefits of business intelligence. However, organizations have to accept the fact that the benefits of BI are worth the costs, and that the risks of not constituting those investments are outstanding

Is there a way to calculate ROI for BI?

Yes, of course there are ways to calculate ROI for your BI investments. Determining the ROI and value of a BI software investment is often an infuriating task, but not an impossible one. At an initial stage, most companies were determining the value of a BI deployment based on IT-centric, quantifiable criteria, including improved operational efficiency and minimized total cost of ownership. But today companies have started to focus on optimizing business process; the metrics have changed and are more difficult to interpret

Tactical issues like reporting are no longer into existence because BI ROI and value are increasingly linked to performance management frameworks. It’s not just about getting the right information to the right people at the right time, but determining that the information is in fact being used to make better decisions. Although there are no ready-made sets of metrics for measuring improved decision-making capabilities.

What companies can do for measuring business intelligence software ROI and value?

Companies can evaluate user satisfaction, based on a set of predefined BI objectives, 18 to 24 months after deploying the BI software. By zeroing in on user satisfaction with the relevancy, accuracy, consistency and timeliness of data being used to make decisions ROI can be determined. However, they need to verify whether they have the sufficient information required to manage their business.

Another maneuver is to looking at the risks of not using BI. It costs money to store, secure and archive the astounding amounts of data floating around a distinctive enterprise. If it isn’t used to improve business processes, data becomes little more than an expensive liability.

Organizations that aren’t utilizing BI are also positioning themselves at a competitive disadvantage, as more and more companies are investing in BI today than ever before. As a matter of fact, BI is a top priority platform for most CIOs and CTOs as they are progressively anticipated to backup business processes, not just put out IT-related fires.

What if your competitors are translating all their data into some fantastic information that will give them the edge?

The risk is that your competitors are bringing in these kinds of investments and are able to react rapidly to manage their business better or react to changes in the market better and, as a result, may be they have better earnings than you.”

Legal compliance is another key condition when it comes to valuing BI. By furnishing a detailed view of a company’s performance, BI let companies to distinguish movements and other behavior that may fall against the rule of federal compliance regulations. The risk of being noncompliant is difficult to quantify financially, but it is certainly important.

It’s all your “mindset”

Clearly speaking calculating the ROI on a BI project is not a rocket science and it often depends on an organization’s mindset. It call be well illustrated by comparing BI to a student’s career: It may be expensive and time-consuming, but there are many less tangible benefits, like increased earning power and overall improved quality of life, which come years later.

“It’s not easy to force someone to choose their career based on a strictly financial or numbers game, and the same thing goes for BI. We will have to just believe that BI is absolutely essential for you as an organization to investment, that this is a fundamental core competency that you have to have.”

Calculating the ROI on a BI project is one means of measuring the benefit to the organization. But even more critical to the success of the BI project than the calculated costs, benefits and ROI is the extent of buy in for the project from the executive leadership and the business operations of the organization. Having support for the BI project from senior management as well as user involvement in the configuration of the application(s) is essential to its success. Without the necessary support and involvement, the ROI calculation for the BI project is meaningless.

How can your organization measure business intelligence software ROI and value? Email your scenarios to Shaughn Knight, AVP, Business Development and Inside Sales Operations. We can help you out to reduce