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BI Solutions in a Harsh Economy

by Robert Hunter, Dashboard InsightMonday, April 6, 2009

Compiled by Robert Hunter

While the current recession is making many of us stockpile our cash and feel gloomy, real BI opportunities are out there waiting for those who know where to look.  With this in mind, we contacted a number of business professionals and asked them to give us a one-paragraph answer to the question:  "How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?"

The answers are below, listed in the order in which they were received.  You'll note some get close to the line of "product promotion," but they don't cross it!  So to get more information, we've also provided links.  Please check them out. Oh, and note the sharing links above, for those who want to quickly pass this content along to others.

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

In times when the sales pipeline slows, BI can help squeeze out every last sale possible. If you’re managing several salespeople with dozens of open opportunities that could be in one of many different sales stages at a given point in time, a BI application can help by sifting through all of that data each week and automatically identify those opportunities that need attention. With our BI application, people use sales pipeline dashboards that automatically highlight when an opportunity “gets stuck” in the pipeline. With a bubble chart, for instance, deals that have spent too much time in their current stage, as compared to your company’s historical average, pop out as outliers. Instead of spending hours sorting through your CRM’s cumbersome reports, you can scan a dashboard like this and see quickly which opportunities need fixing.

Mark Flaherty
VP of Marketing, InetSoft Technology Corp
www.inetsoft.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

With businesses finding creative ways to do more with less, the burden of needing to understand the business better than before falls with the managers and executives still standing.  They need to quickly and more effectively identify trends, relationships between initiatives and results, and the performance drivers (key performance and risk indicators) that will help them capitalize in a market where less informed competitors will falter.  Cutting costs for the sake of cost cutting can actually be costly. The "gut feel" decisions successful in the bull market bring suboptimal results in this bear market.  Managers need an effective means of putting the power of information analysis in their hands; effective BI solutions accomplish that.  They are widely adopted throughout the organization because they are easy to implement, they have a short implementation time (day versus months), they’re intuitive and require minimal IT involvement, and they’re flexible for the end users.

Tristan Ziegler
President & CEO, Visual Mining, Inc.
www.visualmining.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

Just as with private individuals, the current economic downturn presents businesses with a scary set of worries and difficulties.  And, also like individuals, companies are watching their budgets more closely.  Businesses are taking a hard look at how they run their business not just for cost-cutting reasons but to assess how they can come out of the economic downturn in a strong position to capitalize on emergent opportunities - not just recover lost ground but advance in the marketplace. As critical as business intelligence is in helping companies stay afloat right now by discovering exactly where (in)efficiencies lie in a number of a company’s operations, BI is the foundation of strategies for uncovering important pieces of information that can inform and improve sales, operations and overall market performance and position businesses to navigate the new economic landscape more successfully than their competition.  

Julie Kistinger
Director, Marketing Communications, RiverGlass Inc.
www.riverglassinc.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

Budget cuts are limiting long-range thinking, requiring that new projects provide extremely short-term value. But regardless of the economy, you can’t lose sight of driving value over time. BI implementations should be able to deliver immediate value without sacrificing long-term strategy. How do you do this? Choose a lightweight BI solution that is easy to install, easy to use and leverages your existing IT investments and data sources. Also, don’t leave anybody out  - ensure everyone has the metrics they need to make competent, fact-based decisions. Take advantage of employees’ reliance on mobile devices and make real-time data available on BlackBerries, iPhones, PDAs, SmartPhones, etc. When employees are plugged into the organization with timely, consistent data, they will naturally contribute to overall improved performance.

Michael Saucier
CEO of Transpara Corp.
www.transpara.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

In this time of belt-tightening, companies are seeking cost-effective, efficient ways to improve productivity and market effectiveness. This has increased the desirability of Software as a Service (SaaS) for operational intelligence solutions. Low-cost, low-risk and speed to value are inherent in the SaaS model. Add to this the ability to embed best practices, use metrics that support an improvement methodology and an intuitive interface suitable for all decision makers, and you have a solution that complements a continuous improvement approach while having minimal impact to the IT department. I am encouraged by the number of companies creating centralized, dedicated teams to make operational improvement a business priority -  this means putting timely, relevant performance metrics directly in the hands of users to help them make better decisions.

Wayne Morris
CEO of myDIALS Inc.
http://mydials.com/newsroom/dialedin/

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

Speed counts. When the economy makes these kinds of dramatic turns, waiting three months for a new report or even one week for a change request is unacceptable. And if your BI solution can’t get your new questions answered rapidly, then find something better. Look for a BI solution that is low cost, easy to use and fast to deploy. We’ve had clients up and running on a scalable BI analytics platform in literally hours.  Also, focus on producing what really matters. In lean times, BI resources and people often get cut back, but the number of reports they must produce doesn’t. A downturn is the best time to re-think and pare down standard reports and deliverables. And make those reports more effective by providing wider access to data and better, easier-to-use tools to leverage it.

Elissa Fink
VP, Marketing, Tableau Software, Inc.
www.tableausoftware.com/business-intelligence-software

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

Companies successfully deploying business intelligence (tools) are more likely to survive and even thrive in today's economic environment, under the condition that their BI deployment is manageable and does not directly impact the bottom line of the enterprise.  That makes many traditional BI solutions out of reach for IT managers and CIOs given their current budgetary constraints.  Open source solutions present multiple advantages in this context.  Of course, their cost and ROI is more optimized than that of their proprietary counterparts.  But open source is also synonymous of freedom and independence - from mega BI vendor pressures, from perpetual license commitment, from yearly price increases.  With open source, users pay the right price, when they need it.  They are shielded from the "data tax" which occurs when proprietary vendors ask them to buy more licenses every time data volumes increase and when the CPU power needed to process it increases.  They get access to all their data, without buying pricey connectors.  The savings of open source in the BI field can be measured well beyond the license costs!
 
Yves de Montcheuil
VP Worldwide Marketing, Talend Inc.
www.talend.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

Today, companies must do more with less. Gone are the times of BI projects that take months to implement, yet deliver vague business value. Organizations need to quickly and comprehensively identify where performance can increase (key performance indicators), and costs decrease (potential key risk indicators). This is not to say that business intelligence products and solutions should not scale and provide long term results – but the time for business intelligence ROI is now.   So now, more than ever, companies can benefit by leveraging BI products and solutions that are easy to implement, intuitive for end users (i.e., require limited IT support), and comprehensive in both the short- and long-term value they provide. Visual Mining has seen customers and organizations that follow this approach gain immediate insight into key performance indicators and key risk indicators to help make better informed business decisions, which in turn, yielded better business performance.

Mark Brandau
Director of Marketing, Visual Mining, Inc.
www.visualmining.com

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

The current economic adversity combined with the volume of digital data, variety of information and velocity required for decision-making has created a world that requires a new kind of “intelligence.”  Organizations are using BI and performance management to be more effective as they transform data from disparate sources into relevant business information. They can translate the results of what-if scenario planning, forecasting and business modeling into action plans to maintain organizational agility.  These solutions help organizations gain new insight into how best to manage spending, how to improve profits by understanding which customers are most profitable and retaining them and how to reduce risk by limiting exposure to chronically late suppliers or the impact of fluctuating market prices.  The result is consistent execution of decision-making as market conditions change so businesses can emerge from today's economic challenges in a more competitive position.

Dave Laverty
VP Worldwide Marketing, BI and Performance Management, IBM
www.ibm.com/cognos

How can companies and organizations benefit from BI solutions/implementations in today's harsh economy?

“Implementing BI technology in our current economic environment enables organizations to do more with less by streamlining communication, expanding span of control, driving decision making and providing true operational value through less redundancy and synchronized activity.  By taking a true enterprise risk management approach to protracted events or situations of duress now, it enables organizations to create a streamlined methodology to business continuity and crisis management that fits periods of instability and growth by empowering organizations to make the best use of their people, teams, processes and decision making.  Implementing solutions now empowers organizations to reap true business benefit immediately and enables organizations to mature their people, teams and processes resulting in reduced cost now and in our bright future.”

Grant Schlosser
Client Services Account Manager, MissionMode Solutions
www.missionmode.com

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