I’m suspending my discussion of branding today and will pick it up again tomorrow. Today we’ll move on to the important topic of business analytics.
I’ve attended a virtual summit (trade show) for IBM’s Cognos software, which provides business analytics for mid-size and small businesses (although they’re best known for their enterprise stuff).
BTW, this virtual trade show is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Powered by On24 you get most of the features of a trade show — business networking (including exchange of business cards), exhibit hall, presentations, q&a sessions — all without the hassle and expense of travel.
Business intelligence (BI) or business analytics is the name of the game in analytics when it comes to growing your business. It provides concise reports to guide decision-making, direct action, and avoid problems. It can be implemented at several different levels, executive, manager, etc. with different information and formats for each level.
Increasingly, these analytics solutions are moving beyond reporting and spreadsheets to visual reports and dashboards. The value of visual tools is that it takes little training to interpret them, they draw attention to important pieces of information, and provide summaries of a large amount of information that are easily digestible.
Underlying deriving insights from business analytics are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Key Performance Indicators reflect the goals for the individual organization. For instance, budget Key Performance Indicators include sales, net profit, and other indicators that have a serious impact on firm performance. Logistics Key Performance Indicators might include on-time delivery, cost, etc. You get the idea. What Business Intelligence software does, is summarize these.
Cognos, like other more expensive solutions, provides dashboards that show your Key Performance Indicators on a single screen and color codes them. Hence, red might indicate a Key Performance Indicator is seriously out of tolerance — for instance, your idle capacity in your manufacturing plant is below expected or budgeted figures. Yellow might indicate a less serious problems exist, while green indicates Key Performance Indicators that are well within tolerance.
Dashboards collect metrics and provide information about problems, but you need to be able to drill down from each element in the dashboard to see what factors might have contributed to the problem and suggest ways to solve the problem. For instance, late deliveries might be a function of delays in the manufacture of the product, inefficiencies in loading, drivers not meeting deadlines, etc. By drilling down to determine which of these contributed to the problem, a firm can make adjustments to reduce late deliveries.
Cognos for analytics
Cognos can even handle map-based reporting, analysis, and dashboards. A construction company might want analytics about where they are currently constructing homes, commercial businesses, or doing remodeling projects, what stage each home project is in, how close costs are to projections, how the project is progressing toward completion, etc displayed in a map format.
Cognos is modular, so a firm can choose solutions that fit based on their needs, budget, and business. Examples of how Business Intelligence is used in specific industries and a product demo are available online. Setting up business intelligence can take a few months, depending on your current data, etc. However, IBM has partnered with a number of firms that have knowledge of specific industries that can facilitate and speed implementation.
How is your firm doing business intelligence?
What would you think is most valuable from implementing business intelligence?
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