Insider Business Club: business intelligence

Have attitudes changed to business intelligence over the past 12

Mike Pell, business intelligence director, Oracle

Because of the current market, risk is important, so more companies have been
installing business intelligence to make sure they understand risk. Not just in
their own departments, but across multiple departments to give transparency.

Gartner, four or five years ago, gave advice that they would see most
companies implementing pre-built analytics going forward. We have certainly seen
that this year.

What are the pre-built analytics? That means companies have implemented ERP
systems, HR systems, supply chain systems.

Traditionally they have created a data warehouse where they put their own
business intelligence on top of it and now you can do that much faster and much
quicker if it comes from a supplier with that integration in place.

There are no silos and you can gain visibility across your business.

And it’s moving companies from what I would call operational excellence,
which is what they did in the 1980s and 1990s, by implementing the ERP systems.

What were you looking for in a system?

Paul Pemberton, CFO, Camden Media

One of the tasks I looked to do, was to implement a system based around what
I termed as three Vs. Volume, looking at productivity; value, looking at
developing the knowledge base that would add value to the business for an exit;
and visibility, enabling the company to see what the metrics were which were
driving the business.

We looked at a number of different options, but we didn’t need anything that
was too huge. But we wanted something that was easy to adapt and to implement
which could have rapid access from each of the users.

I had worked with a SAP implementation, which took years of planning.
Actually, it was very successful, but we didn’t have years to implement this, we
had weeks or months. So we chose Salesforce which had a very quick
implementation platform for us, and I think that is one of the things that, as
we have moved into the current times, people want ­ rapid response.

People don’t want to have to wait a year, to have their productivity
enhanced. So, we went for something we could have out of the box, as it were,
and up and running within weeks.

How are retailers developing business intelligence?

Alan Russell, partner, Change Management Group

What we are encouraging our clients to do is to look further along the supply
chain, both in front of them and behind them, and beyond their own organisations
for information. The more they can be aware of what’s going on within their own
customer organisations and what’s going on behind them, the better they can
manage that extremely thin supply chain.

What we notice is some of the big retailers are producing systems now which
they are making available free to their suppliers. So Tesco, Asda, and so on,
are actually turning these systems on for their suppliers and telling them
exactly how their products are performing store-by-store, day-by-day.

That is not going to be the sort of thing they are going to be able to find
in their own ERP. They will know the total volume that they ship to a
distribution centre, but they won’t know quite so well what is working and what
isn’t . They can then think about how to play a more proactive part in
encouraging retailers to move their product.

What can small businesses with no access to large business
intelligence systems do?

Ganesh Selvarajah, adviser, Business Link

I think there are some simple things that businesses can do. Just look at the
processes they have in place and look at doing some simple, ‘back of an
envelope’ planning, where you can work out your profitability for a business
quite quickly if you know how much sales you are doing.

But in a lot of ways you might be distracted by saying well we have got the
highest turnover with that group of customers, but the cost of maintaining those
customers might not be making them the most profitable.

So, simple exercises of looking at who is the most profitable in terms of
your customer base and also in terms of your supply side as well.

That is the sort of generic business information that you should be gathering
to try and manage the business.

You can do that quite simply and quite quickly and you don’t need to go into
the level of detail that a fairly substantial corporate with a fairly good IT
system behind it can deliver.

Chaired by Kevin Reed

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