Is Big Data the Missing Link in Predictive Analytics?

BI Theory No Comments

Most companies do not suffer from lack of data. They suffer from how to extract insight from data in a timely manner. As most organisations are still struggling with how to get value from their dashboards, they are now being overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data and the rapidly changing market trends.

Predictive analytics relies on certain underlying market assumptions either remaining constant or being predictable in their change. To date, we have been winging it on a wide range of assumptions in terms of where market opinion will move next.  However, Big Data has the ability to change that. Where we once relied on somewhat unreliable market surveys to predict changes in consumer attitudes, Big Data provides us with real insight into changes, as they happen. Using social data to create  ‘market state correlations’ and we can start to build up a library of more reliable assumptions that may be reused.

Mining Big Data brings us one step closer to the level of customer intimacy that really starts to work for both sides of the market. Businesses can be more targeted in their product development and market messaging, and consumers get exactly what they want in terms of product features and convenient sales channels.

3 Considerations for Mobile Dashboards

BI Theory, Dashboard Design, Mobile BI No Comments

I was just reading an interesting article on Harvard Business Review called The Future Isn’t About Mobile, It’s About Mobility. It prompted me to remind you that if you are designing dashboards not to fall into the trap of just replicating desktop dashboard for mobile. Users of mobile dashboards are experiencing the dashboard in quite different environments, and I am not just referring to the small device screen. It’s not about making desktop dashboards mobile – it is about understanding the specific needs of users during mobility.

Here are my top 4 considerations when designing mobile dashboards:

  1. Lighting conditions – vary considerably and this can be especially difficult for those starting to feel the effect of aging eyes, where the range of light in which they have clear visibility is far narrower than for someone without presbyopia. Design dashboard backgrounds and fonts for fast reading. This is often completely opposite to what one considers ideal design for desktop dashboards. Viewing white letters on a black background is often easier in bright light, than black letters of a white background – but in desktop we use the exact opposite. Subtle colors get washed out in bright lights – but are ideal for desktop etc
  2. Time constraints – often users have just a moment to quickly glance at a dashboard – they don’t have time to dig down three levels to get to the combination of information they need. I read recently [I would credit the source if i could remember] a great description of the difference between mobile and desktop dashboards where mobile dashboards are for leaning out [just glancing], whereas desktop dashboards are for leaning in for analysis
  3. Security – think carefully about storing data locally on mobile devices. If you remember the above, that mobile dashboards are not a lean-in activity, there is little reason for cached data. Doing so creates a security risk worthy of close consideration.

That’s it for me – there are many other considerations, but the main one is to not be tempted to just replicate the desktop to the mobile. As the HBR article says, its not about mobile, it’s about mobility.

BI Helps Overcome Fear of Failure

BI Theory No Comments

Fear of Failure is often cited as the reason for not extending ones reach in both personal and business feats. In the case of an employee, the fear of failure is really little more than fear of criticism or blame – they personally don’t take a financial hit if the product is wrong or the launch campaign isn’t as effective as planned. So how does BI help? BI puts the analytics, the rationale and logic behind a decision out there for everyone to see – everyone to accept – and everyone to share the blame. It takes the onus of decision making off a single person and spreads it across the business. It provides a fact-based, rather than person-based foundation for decisions.

Getting away from the blame game, gets your business away from the lame game, and gets it competing with more focus, more knowledge and more confidence. It opens your business to becoming more remarkable. Staying safe, playing within the lines is not the way to grow a business – growth requires risk, calculated risk. The very best outcome will be one that most people love and some people hate, but at least you are pushing the barriers and getting noticed. Getting noticed today is a major goal of any business – getting noticed profitably is the ultimate agenda.

Playing safe and staying the same as your competitors doesn’t get you noticed, and doesn’t get you ahead of the pack. As businesses start to stretch out again following the recessionary shrink, caution will be a common call. Only those with the tools to analyse their options in a rapid manner, thus avoiding paralysis by analysis, will lead the charge in the post recessionary wave.

It’s your choice to ride the wave, or wave goodbye. It’s your choice to go it alone or lean on BI.

Agility, Alignment and Analytics

BI Theory No Comments

Looking to boost your perspective on BI or dig deeper into the latest hot topics in business intelligence, then take a look at the agenda for the upcoming TDWI BI Executive Summit in San Diego, August 16-18th 2010.

The theme for this years summit is Agility, Alignment and Analytics, covering hot topics including:

  • Agile BI
  • Text analytics
  • Analytic databases
  • Distributed BI organizations
  • Radical BI
  • BI competency centers
  • Advanced visualization

Early bird discount ends July 16, so check out the agenda now.

NOTE: I have no affiliate relationship with TDWI for this event – I just think they do a great job at providing a comprehensive view of business intelligence.

New Releases in The Logical Organization Management Insight Series

BI Program, BI Strategy, BI Theory, Cloud BI, Cloud Computing, CPM 1 Comment

I am really excited to announce the release of two new additions to the TLO Management Insight Series:

  • Leading With SPI
  • Getting to Cloud

Leading with SPI – Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI - Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to driving better strategic definition and more effective and efficient strategic execution. Using the powers of business intelligence, the key decisions of the business are focused around those points where real improvement can be made. SPI transforms the outlook of business leaders from a backward facing measurement system using traditional lagging indicators, to a more future focused KPI based performance improvement capability that delivers more opportunities to improve and move ahead of competition.

SPI starts with deconstruction of measurable strategic objectives to help focus the business on what’s most important, and by following a simple process, identifies the questions that must be answered at each key decision point.

The KPI used to measure performance are grouped around these key decision points, ensuring that what must be done, gets measured. And, gets focused upon!

Find out more about Leading with SPI by clicking here.

Getting to Cloud – Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Getting to Cloud - Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Cloud is the missing power base that underpins data warehouses and advanced analytics. So many businesses are either prevented from implementing BI solutions or stall early into the project through the lack of processing power or clean data quality management. Cloud provides the opportunity to leverage the significant benefits of BI, without reliance on outdated, overloaded IT infrastructures.

Cloud computing is so much more than a power base for BI – with its foundation in virtualization technology, it is the platform that will transform the competitive base of business. No longer will small businesses be constrained in competing against their larger competitors through lack of IT resources. Cloud remedies that.

Cloud also impacts the IT reseller market – rather than disintermediation of resellers, Cloud offers an expanse of new service and product opportunities that were previously beyond the technical or financial scope.

Getting to Cloud looks at the questions both buyers and sellers need to be asking themselves right NOW. It provides detailed ROI case analysis and savings data for use in business cases…and so much more.

Find out more about Getting to Cloud by clicking here

4 Key Questions About Business Intelligence

BI Strategy, BI Theory No Comments
There are four main questions one asks in relation to BI….
What is BI?
Why do I need BI?
What BI tools do I need for what purpose?
How do I select a BI solution?
What is the best way to implement BI?
I will answer each of these questions in following blogs
What is BI?
Business intelligence is a capability, supported by a software suite that provides insight into your business and its operating environment to support more productive and more profitable decisions. It helps to filter out personal biases and irrelevant past experiences to isolate the most meaningful data that relates directly to the decisions you need to make for today and the future of your business. BI differs from standard reporting in that reporting adopts an historical perspective to show what has happened in the past. It does not tell you why it happened, or whether it may happen in the same way again in the future.
Why do I need BI?
A business is designed to move forward, not backward. Using backward facing information to drive a forward facing business doesn’t make sense and can lead to massive mistakes through incorrect assumptions, and decisions made for political rather than logical reasons. BI removes human frailty from decision making as much as possible, allowing for evidence-based decisions to drive your business. This alone helps to cleanse your business of personal ego patching, destructive hierarchical power-plays and overzealous enthusiasm driving you into activities that do not support your productivity and profitability goals. It reduces risk significantly and helps you streamline both your operational and marketing activities to those that produce the most value for the least resources expended.

Sometimes, in amongst all the hype and confusion of new technologies it pays to revisit the basic questions…..in this case we are looking at business intelligence [BI]….

What is BI?

  • Why do I need BI?
  • What BI tools do I need for what purpose?
  • How do I select a BI solution?
  • What is the best way to implement BI?

I will answer each of these questions in following blogs

What is BI?

Business intelligence is a capability, supported by a software suite that provides insight into your business and its operating environment to support more productive and more profitable decisions. It helps to filter out personal biases and irrelevant past experiences to isolate the most meaningful data that relates directly to the decisions you need to make for today and the future of your business. BI differs from standard reporting in that reporting adopts an historical perspective to show what has happened in the past. It does not tell you why it happened, or whether it may happen in the same way again in the future.

Why do I need BI?

A business is designed to move forward, not backward. Using backward facing information to drive a forward facing business doesn’t make sense and can lead to massive mistakes through incorrect assumptions, and decisions made for political rather than logical reasons.

BI removes human frailty from decision making as much as possible, allowing for evidence-based decisions to drive your business. This alone helps to cleanse your business of personal ego patching, destructive hierarchical power-plays and overzealous enthusiasm driving you into activities that do not support your productivity and profitability goals.

BI significantly reduces decision risk and helps you streamline both your operational and marketing activities to those that produce the most value for the least resources expended.

More in the next blog….

BI Vendor SAS Top Business Performance Solution – Q4 2009

BI Theory No Comments

BI vendor SAS was designated the leader of business performance solutions in the Q4 2009 Forrester Business Performance Solutions report.

It received a perfect score for cost and profitability analysis and also the top score inproduct strategy and vision.

In spite of scaling back operations in the past year, SAS has still maintained its focus on truly understanding what drives cost, profit and value without subrogation of key business capability.

SAS enables businesses to model future scenarios to help them predict and optimize potential situations and make fact-based decisions.

According to Forresters Research’s report “planning, forecasting, financial reporting and performance measurement solutions are essential for addressing economic uncertainty”.

Forecasting heps cope with market volatility, even in times of economic slowdown or uncertainty. For identifying leading indicators, and using these to forecast rather than relying on lagging indicators contained in traditional reporting, companies are better positioned to identify opportunities and threats and respond ahead of the curve.

SAS for Performance Management is currently implemented across more than 1,500 customer sites, and includes:

  • Dashboards and scorecards
  • Financial consolidation, budgeting, planning and reporting
  • Cost and profitability analysis
  • Human and IT capital analysis
  • Customer and supplier intelligence
  • Enterprise risk management
  • Sustainability management
  • Advanced analytics

For more on SAS BI Solutions

Across Forrester’s 89-criteria evaluation of business performance solutions vendors, IBM Cognos, Oracle, SAP, and SAS Institute took the lead based on their breadth of functionality and strength of their business intelligence foundations.

IBM Cognos Express – Integrated BI & Planning Tool for Midsized Businesses

BI Theory No Comments

I attended the Cognos Performance 2009 presentation this morning and was very impressed with the new ‘Express’ Version, developed to target mid-sized businesses. Running on a standard Windows platform, IBM Cognos Express provides an affordable BI solution [meaning very short payback period] without compromising on the technical or functionality richness of its parent solution Cognos 8.

Express appears to provide a robust, complete BI solution and provides an on-site alternative to OnDemand BI. In addition to BI functionality – reporting, analysis, dashboard, scorecard, Express includes the critical planning, budgeting and forecasting capabilities.

Express answers the three basic business questions – whats happening, why is it happening and what is going to happen?

A fully integrated, low footprint solution for information driven decision making. Find out more, watch an online demo or get a free trial-  IBM Cognos Express.

Cloud Driving BI Mashups

BI Theory No Comments

I was just completing my upcoming book “Getting to Cloud” and decided to use BI as a great example as to how Cloud computing will enable more innovative BI.

One of the innovative developments Cloud enables, that supports self service BI is BI Mashups. Virtualization infrastructure enables a continuous background task to run searching for new data sources and fresh updates from existing sources to support BI mashups

Once a new data source is discovered, it is transformed to a common semantic model, and published to a BI-mashup registry. Users simply drag and drop BI reports, dashboards, and other analytics to their desktop.

Automated discovery is key to both the concept of BI mashup, and also to the concept of trustworthy data. It helps detect and remediate anomalies across disparate data sources.

Current vendors of automated source discovery include Composite Software and Exeros [recently acquired by IBM]. Other areas of innovation around BI will drive further consolidation in the BI market, as Cloud acts as the enabler of sourcing and transforming aggregated data into common formats for consumption across the complete set of BI tools.

Insights on Web 2.0 Adoption

BI Theory No Comments

Want a super cool way to look at how the different Web 2.0 technologies are being engaged by businesses, and which ones have grown in adoption over the past two years? McKinsey has recently launched a user definable, interactive to allow you to gain insight into many aspects of Web 2.0. For instance, find out the most powerful business tools in use today. Move the slider on the right
to see how each tool has gained in adoption since 2007.

Web2 Interactive

Go play for yourself.

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