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BI Best Practices Benchmark Report, Part 1: Topic Overview

Date: 29-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

As promised, I will begin to present the main elements of a successful Business Intelligence strategy, as its appear in „BI Best Practices Benchmark Report”. So...

 

Part 1: Topic Overview

As most respondents involved in Gleanster`s study said, the most successful organizations today don’t simply gather and record data, they put it to work. Why that? Because data helps them optimize everything: sales, margin, inventory and supply chains, identifies new product and market opportunities.

What BI Gleansight study („BI Best Practices Benchmark Report”) priority reveals is the fact that „BI initiatives stand out for their potential to improve corporate performance through better use of the data gathering by disparate systems”. And, furthermore, that „most BI vendors sell vertical applications that build on top of their base platform, providing a customizable starter set of analytics and dashboards for a given industry.”

What else shows this study? Well, take them in order:

1. Compared with many enterprise IT projects, BI requires relatively modest investments.

2. The foundational capabilities of BI tools are more basic, such as the ability to pull data on the fly from operational systems or analyze the contents of a more neatly organized data warehouse or data mart.

3. The every BI platform goal is to achieve „one version of the truth”, by gathering and analyzing data consistently and creating standard definitions for common measures of corporate performance.

4. BI practitioners seek to reconcile different data models and definitions in topical or divisional data marts and company-wide data warehouses.

5. BI practitioners promote standardization of the use of query tools and integration protocols wherever possible, and promote those as criteria for selecting new applications.

Therefore, the majority of respondents, who as I have shown in the first material are SVP/VP, Director, Manager & Staff, concluded that „Business Intelligence is as much about management discipline as technology.”

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Proven competencies - BITSoftware, Oracle Gold Partner

Date: 28-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

BITSoftware becames Oracle Gold Partner (OPN). The status obtained by us certifies the proven competencies of BITSoftware in providing innovative and high quality solutions based on the latest Oracle technologies.

Oracle databases are succesfully deployed in SocrateOpen installations, from small to very large ERP implementations. To obtain the Oracle Gold Partner certification, BITSoftware passed a series of tests that have certified both technical capacity and skills of its specialists in Oracle technology, through this partnership, BITSoftware receiving a rich set of benefits provided by Oracle.

By maintaining a close partnership with Oracle, BITSoftware will continue to provide its customers substantial benefits to support them in developing their business and offer an authentic competitive advantage.

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BI Best Practices Benchmark Report

Date: 26-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

As Business Intelligence Group member on LinkedIn, I found a very interesting „BI Best Practices Benchmark Report”, which takes a close look at the elements of a successful BI strategy, including the drivers and obstacles, as well as the metrics for tracking and measuring success. The report also goes into detail of some of the best examples of rapid ROI from BI projects and that they are associated with tactical implementations that emphasize immediate results over perfect system architecture, as long as it is easily accessible to the decision makers who need it.

So, according to the report, most organizations today have BI tools or at least some way of releasing reports. But only fewer have a true Business Intelligence strategy. On the other hand, some of the best examples of rapid ROI from BI projects are associated with tactical implementations that emphasize immediate results over a perfect system architecture. And no matter how great the analytic technology, a BI solution is only useful if it is easily accessible to the decision makers who need it. The Gleansight „BI Best Practices Benchmark Report” takes a close look at the elements of a successful BI strategy, including the drivers and obstacles, as well as the metrics for tracking and measuring success.

The report has seven parts (Topic Overview, Reasons to Implement, Value Drivers, Challenges, Performance Metrics, Success Story, Vendor Landscape), which I will try to present them separately, in a serial way meant to convince you that in 2011, BI solutions are no longer a fad but a necessity.

Survey Stats
The research findings featured in this Gleansight benchmark report are derived from the Q3 2010 Gleanster “Lead Nurturing” survey.
There are some statistics:
- Total survey responses: 273
- Qualified survey responses: 211
- Company size: Very Small (9%); Small (36%); Medium (23%); Large (24%); Very Large (8%)
- Geography: North America (65%); Europe (20%); Other (15%)
- Industries: Software and Hardware (31%); Financial Services (24%); Retail and Consumer Goods (15%); Other High Tech (19%); Other (11%)
- Job levels: C-level (6%); SVP/VP (14%); Director (31%); Manager & Staff (49%)
- Sample survey respondents: Director, IT, Hilton; Vice President, Wells Fargo; Manager, Operations, Comcast; Director, IT, Home Depot; Vice President, HP; Marketing Manager, Safeway; Director, Operations, General Motors; Manager, Cisco;

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Return on Investment for ERP Solutions

Date: 25-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

Any manager who decided to implement an ERP solution did this to improve his/her business and save monies, earn more monies and more customers. Monies saved, monies earned and more customers equals return on investment. (ROI) There’s no other reason to invest in an ERP solution except for a future return on investment (ROI).

An ERP has the ability to offer you great returns. But only if you use it properly. And at its entire capacity. Not using functionality is wasted money. According to statistics published on a LinkedIn ERP Group, more than 75% of companies purchase robust ERP solutions and only use sixty percent or less of the functionality. It’s like buying a large pizza and only eating half of it.

So when decide to make the step to implementing an ERP and you want to calculate ROI, you must absolutely take into account all these aspects:

- unexpectedly long implementation times due to unexpected roadblocks and training costs;

- factor in your business case if you are going to use just a part of ERP;

- the real training costs (if your employees aren’t well trained, they will not use all of the ERP functionality to its full potential);

- take all the time you need to explore all of your options and ERP solutions on the market.

As a friend of mine (salesman, of course!) always tells, „don’t sell yourself rapid”, by taking the first ERP solution that seems like it will work. Take the preparation and selection process seriously to ensure the longevity of the company.

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Can Marketing Love Business Intelligence?

Date: 22-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

Why is that after the successful deployment of state of the art ERP and Business Intelligence software folks in strategic areas of the company still struggle to make sense of the data?

The reason is pretty simple. Strategic Marketing is the headlights of the business; their job is to predict the future and exploit that prediction in a manner that increases market share, revenue and profitability. Their focus is mostly outside and in the future while ERP data is all about inside and in the past.

When companies populate their BI systems solely with internal data from the ERP, this only supports the back-office or day-to-day operation but it does not help folks in strategic functions. Marketing, sales or line of business management need a much wider perspective to impact the bottom line.

Marketing needs a 360 degree view of the market-business-profit reality. This includes both internal and external sources of data usually not found in the transaction system. They need to access external market intelligence to compare it with company performance metrics. This can be market and customer segmentation, updated customer and competitor merger and acquisition status, competitive opportunities, business and products under threat, market size, forecasts, etc.

In my experience, using Business Intelligence software to integrate internal and external data has always a positive change in the company’s culture, where instant access to strategic knowledge helps folks in charge of strategy to accurately answer complex business questions within minutes.

Marketing becomes an avid Business Intelligence user when the configuration of both data and BI software provides the key measures and dimensions, in a user-intuitive way, to monitor business direction against the company’s strategy. They can quickly find the root cause of problems and opportunities, with no intervention of IT or business analysts, and take immediate action faster than their competition.

by Bill Cabiro and Strat-Wise LLC


„Please visit their web site at www.strat-wise.com for additional articles and resources on the strategic use of Business Intelligence and Analytics”

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Does Your BI deployment pass the Strategic IQ Test?

Date: 19-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

A well organized strategic BI implementation transforms Marketing from Art to Science while unfolding an analytical competitive advantage that translates in bottom line impact. I found that Marketing deems BI indispensable when its deployment passes the Strategic IQ test.
I. Select ten questions you find most valuable to have answered in your organization.

II. Ask these questions independently to six people (marketing, sales, financial analyst, IT, accounting or business management) requesting confidentiality and a prompt response.

III. Keep track of the time it takes to obtain each answer.

IV. Compare the answers for quality and consistency between respondents.

Note that answering most of these questions should take a few minutes and the answers need to be consistent across the different respondents.

Sample Questions

1) Where are we more profitable: strategic customers, key customers, distributors, agents or dealers? Why? Is it due to pricing, volume or product mix?

2) What is our current market share in a particular business unit in Europe?

3) Are our differentiated brands more profitable than the commodity ones? Why?

4) Are our new products more profitable than the old ones? How much? Why?

5) Who are the top 5% of my customers that generate 50% of profits? Why?

6) Who are the customers and what are the products that drain our cash? Why?

7) How much of which product is Sales-rep X supposed to sell to each of his customers in September of next year? What will his profit margin be?

8) Why is profitability by customer / region / country / business / market segment or sales territory significantly down this month?

  • Is this because we lost volume?
  • Is it product mix?
  • Too many price exceptions?
  • Has raw material cost increased?
  • Has manufacturing cost increased?
  • Have freight / distribution expenses gone up?
  • Combination of which factors?

9) Show me a comparative Profit & Loss (P&L) statement

  • By region / country / state
  • By market segment / sub-segment
  • By sales representative / distributor / dealer
  • By brand / SKU
  • By product technology
  • By customer location
  • Differentiated products versus commodity products at our distributors

10) Who do our distributors, agents and dealers sell to?

  • In what markets / segments / sub segments?
  • What is their mark-up? / Profitability?
  • What is their new versus old product ratio?

11) What does our opportunity pipeline look like?

12) Which pieces of business are under competitive threat? (By product, competitor and customer location, in units and dollars.)

13) What is each of our competitors’ current market share by segment?

Scores

  • If you got less than 6 answers, they took longer than one day, or the answers are completely different; your BI deployment maybe supporting the back-office operation but it’s unlikely to drive profitable growth since most strategic decisions are based on raw data and intuition.
  • If you got more than 5 answers within one hour with 50% of the analysts in agreement, you are in the right track but need to refine the process further to compete on analytics.
  • If you got more than 8 answers within one hour and both analysts and casual BI users from different areas agree; your BI deployment has become a competitive advantage that allows the organization to perform strategic and competitive analysis on-the-fly while ensuring a single version of the truth.

How does your organization score?

by Bill Cabiro and Strat-Wise LLC


„Please visit their web site at www.strat-wise.com for additional articles and resources on the strategic use of Business Intelligence and Analytics”

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What do you think is the future of business intelligence?

Date: 18-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

The future of Business Intelligence is certainly bright and the chances are great, because organisations are expanding, datas are growing everywhere and managers need to maintain the control. Plus, it will take some time for those IT business solutions to enter more fully into market, because knowledge of these tools by end users is still very low. But must be changes to adapt solutions to market needs. The change must be focused on getting more user-friendly applications for end users, get a lower cost level and a licensing system that allows to give information to the entire staff of a company, without increasing cost of ownership. And with fulminant development of what is called social media, I think that there is an unprecedented goldmine of data. Why? Because customers are telling you what they want. And so you can know what people expect of your brand, who wants to test your product, who likes/dislikes your brand/product etc. But for that you have to be able to understand it. Social Media has impacts across nearly all functions of a business - not just Marketing and PR, but Sales, Service, Product Development, R&D, and many others.

So, for my point of view, next generation of Business Intelligence will be more of a hybrid, holistic tool melding BI, Enterprise Performance/Process Management and Information Management - a more singular application providing all organizational data in real-time with the collaborative advantages of event/activity streams and social utilities, putting business-critical data directly into decision-maker's hands, all on a singular dashboard. Plus, it will integrate internal data with external data (Industry Data, Social Media, Blogs ...) and it has to be mobile as well.

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What should companies consider before investing in a BI solution?

Date: 15-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

BI Solution is an important part of many companies as everyone today needs access to data. But what is the key element to consider before investing in any BI soultion? What things are key to be thought through and possible downsides of investing in a BI solution? Things to consider will differ between companies, because every has different architecture and requirements for a BI Solution.
According to discussions on one of the groups on Linkedin, are some things to follow before designing a BI Solution for any company:
- The current state of ERP implementation and data gathering in the database.
- Data warehouse requirements: This will bring up multiple questions based on requirements
- Reporting requirements: Operational reports, Analytical reports, Dashboards.
- Security on Data Access
- Frequency of Reports
- Distriution of Reports
This is just an overview of question you should ask before deciding on a BI Solution. What is your thoughts?

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Best of office application vs Integrated ERP. Is it worth the cost?

Date: 14-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

„A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is a proverb well-known. In B2B, this concept is translated by an ERP solution is only as strong as its weakest integration. Commonly overlooked and underestimated, integration is one of the most important factors to consider as part of a best of office application vs. integrated ERP solution. The benefit of richer functionality is limited by partial integration.

Therefore, to take an informed decision regarding best of office application vs. integrated ERP, you must know this:

- Integrating a best of office application with ERP software will result in additional cost and maintenance (ex. dual upgrade and maintenance cycle).

- Developing integration between a best of breed application and ERP software will not be as robust as the delivered ERP integrations between its applications. Part of result has to do with the total integration cost over the life of ERP and the other area is the simple fact that the underlying data models are different.

Knowing the facts expressed above, the question I challenge you with is: will having a best of breed application versus integrated ERP worth the cost? Will the additional investment generate a significant impact to competitive advantage?

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SocrateOpen 2.6 was realesed

Date: 13-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

The new version of the open source ERP / CRM application SocrateOpen just said „Hello world!” The 2.6 version cames with a series of new improvements and adaptabilities coming to support companies activating in services, construction, telecommunications, distribution, discrete manufacturing and agro.

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Why Marketing Finds Business Intelligence Useless

Date: 12-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

During my years of industrial marketing and sales, I learned that there is a big difference between corporate information and Strategic Knowledge.

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Outsource or not the Human Resources?

Date: 08-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

In today’s business world, human resource outsourcing (HRO) is becoming increasingly popular than it was few years ago. This dramatic change occurring in today’s organizations has propelled this latest trend toward outsourcing. Workers’ needs are changing, human resources costs are rising and there are increasing pressures to be aware with the latest legislative changes.
At this point, you may be asking yourself a question: how to efficiently manage the all this? The answer is simple. By partnering with a firm that can deliver an HR IT solution that can empower your managers to make healthy workforce decisions.
To find the right answer to „To outsource or not the HR”, you must answering to those questions:
- What HR outsourcing model do I need? (business process, shared services or an application?
- Do I really need an outsourcing?
- What are the benefits and concerns of outsourcing?
And, before making the decision, there are some high-level factors that must be considered:
- Ensure the outsourcing firms you are looking at have enough experience to handle your company’s needs and that they will be able to meet or exceed your quality expectations.
- Ask for references.
- Have open communication with your provider.
- Understand your provider's limitations by asking the right questions.
Having the answers to all those questions, you will be able to take the right decision: outsource or not the Human Resources.

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Are you a Business Intelligence Avoider?

Date: 07-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

From six different studies we conclude that approximately only 5% of employees use BI tools to perform Analytics effectively*.

I think this is in part related to the fact that except for folks with backgrounds in science, engineering, economics or finance; most people across the company do not feel too comfortable around numbers, math or logic. I've seen this during many years of training corporate employees on the strategic use of Business Intelligence and Analytics.

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Benefits of Business Intelligence in Organizations

Date: 05-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

Business Intelligence is often defined as the array of processes and technologies that turn information into insight and action, meaning the effective application of the broad suite of data analysis tools and analytical approaches to effectively understand, predict, optimize, and prepare to take action upon current and future business activity.
BI applications find their way into a vast range of business areas including customer relationship management, external market assessment, supply chain analysis, human resources, enterprise resource planning, financial management, research and development, as well as the various quality control activities such as Six Sigma. They employ technologies such as: data mining, text mining, geographic information systems, language translation, statistical analysis, predictive modeling, simulation, and advanced visualization.
Business Intelligence software allows companies to access their databases and deliver insights to employees, managers and business partners. The insights provided by BI then turn into actions as companies use BI applications to find new opportunities, reduce costs, reallocate resources and improve operational efficiency.
BI applications allow business persons to make informed decisions by providing timely, relevant and accurate answers to business questions. They do so with the help of analytical insights ranging from intuitive, graphical dashboards to highly formatted operational reports.

The business performance improvement cycle

Improving business performance often starts with setting priorities, by answering questions such as: Which business areas need the most attention? In which areas can results be enhanced with reasonable resources and effort?
Through the use of BI Applications, organizations gain improved insight and make more rational resource prioritization decisions each day. By monitoring business results and fine-tuning business actions, organizations create a system and culture of continuous performance improvement.
Intelligence in Business today is applied to 3 distinct and interrelated business needs – Monitoring the business, Reporting on the business, and Analyze the business. Monitoring BI applications constantly track business metrics to inform and alert the persons responsible about ongoing business activity and the decisions that might be required based on them. Reporting BI applications deliver detailed data on current and historical operational performance so managers can see what is happening across the enterprise, and how well the business is operating. And, finally, Analysis BI applications present views of the business from many different angles so that managers can uncover the causes of performance problems, uncover opportunities that the business should exploit, or predict business results.

 

by Iulian Lixandru

BITSoftware BI Consultant

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Traceability - the new challenge for Romanian meat industry

Date: 04-07-2011
Author: Bit Software

The traceability is an important component of the requirements imposed to food industry by the European Union. And means the need of controlling the history of a meat product, from raw material until the final product and its location after sale or distribution. In other words, by traceability the manufacturing process conforms to the European legislation and quality standards.

What this means? For example, when a contamination occurs, the meat manufacturer will have to remove its entire production from the market. And that because the identification of compromised lots will not be possible in the absence of a solution able to store all information related to raw materials entered in their composition. For any producer who wish to increase profit, its essential to be able to track the raw materials sources, the processing of those materials, the products lots on batch, the returns and losses.

For this reason, the purchasing of an IT system has become a essential condition for Romanian meat producers and processors to fulfill both EU requirements and increase profit. Unfortunately, most Romanian meat producers do not buy whole systems of production management activities, do not implement an ERP solution, but only a few modules which do not concern automation.

According to a marketing research performed by students at Economics and Business Administration Faculty from Babeş Bolyai University, only 48% from the Romanian companies bought a software to control the production process and other 19% took into consideration adoption of software solutions for traceability reasons. 33 procents of romanian meat producers not have budget for such an investment, not heard from the existence of such software or failed to identify on the market a software that meet their business needs.

In such conditions, the question I ask is: will be able the Romanian meat producers and processors to face competition and to comply with traceability rules without purchasing any IT systems for production chain management?

 

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