Types of BI
Business Intelligence (BI) is extremely popular and is a top focus. There is the traditional software, cloud services, mobile apps and social media. What type do you need for your business that will help and not hinder progress? Choosing the wrong software to fix your business problem(s) or having end users who don’t understand the new programming will cause failures.
- Not defining the business problem(s) – Don’t jump the gun until you know exactly what you need. Buying for general capability is the worst mistake you can make. Look for defined problems that need solving.
- Not getting commitment from end users before choosing the BI solution – Make sure to get people’s opinions of the selections available as they’re the ones who will ultimately use it every day. Otherwise, the tools will be ineffective as no one will use the upgrades. They have to approve of what might become the new initiative, or they will never use it. Don’t tell them they have to use it, help them to understand why they’ll want to use it when it’s up and running.
- Not considering security or legal requirements – Follow data governance when selecting new solutions. It protects both your company and customers.
- Don’t get swayed by features and forget legacy systems and integration – Most companies look and rank BI software by the features available. This is wrong. You need to look and see which app will be able to integrate with what system you use already. There has to be an ability to work with all your other business systems or it won’t work correctly.
More BI Mistakes
- Not choosing a program that can scale and adapt to change – Choosing a solution that isn’t flexible is one of the worst things you can do. Self-service analytics are now the norm, where they can work well with new data sources. The ability to scale is necessary is as the system grows, the software has to keep up. You don’t want to have to buy new software every time the business grows.
- Not considering the mobile workforce – You have to consider mobility. Being able to use the new BI solution on a smart phone is a great advantage and allows for more productivity.
- Rushing implementation – Never rush the upgrade. Mistakes are going to be made with possible cost increases.
- Insufficient training and underestimating costs of training – A few weeks of training isn’t going to cut it with today’s BI systems. The systems in place now are very complex. End users need a lot more training to work them. There’s also the need for ongoing training to keep the end users in the loop for changes to the programs.
- Not leveraging intelligence and reporting – If you’re going to collect all this data, then make sure to share, analyze and act on what is found. It’s a waste to buy the new BI solution if not used properly.
Uses for Upgrades
This software is used in many ways. It is used to build reports, find risks and opportunities and forecast trends. Don’t become complacent with pre-defined sets of reports. You’ll miss changes that are occurring in the business world.
Business Intelligence and Analytics
What is the biggest challenge today for upgrading your business? You’ll find the answer through using tools enabling business intelligence (BI) and analytics strategies. It seems that businesses are looking to adopt BI and more advanced analytics to achieve bigger gains. Upper management needs to explore more information to gather key areas that they feel need improvement.
The Biggest Challenges:
- Data Preparation – The ability to complete data management in putting together and cleaning data before compiling reports and analytics.
- Skills and Leadership – Is there a structure focused on needs of both BI and analytics along with more complex methods?
- Ease of Use – Can those who are less technically inclined be able to use the system?
The biggest gaps are in data prep. It is more difficult and more complex than it seems. The size of the company and how they are using BI and analytics doesn’t matter. They all see big gaps in how they filter, transform and prepare their data. Good data gathering and compiling is completed. It helps find both relationships and potential outcomes quickly. The information found here will help improve your company’s productivity and build competitive advantages. Consider automation and self-service also for those in the agency who are less technically inclined. Analytics are behind BI. Improvements are needed to be able to prepare, augment and explore the data gathered. This will help your agency to find root causes and trends. You can then build and update predictive models through using machine learning.
Skills and Leadership
Skills and leadership are key too. Agencies strong in these areas still say that there are many challenges in innovation, creativity, and leadership. Shown executive support enforces the need for upgrades or change just will not happen. If there’s no strong vision and support at this level, the initiatives will fail or underperform. A leader needs to make sure that they openly show the value of success from the new initiatives.
Ease of Use
Overworked data scientists or analysts already in your company because of changes being implemented need help. In this case, it’s better to create self-service and interactive tools where everyone can find them. Nontechnical users will need the guidance, and instead of overworking your data scientists and analysts, this can help. There’s software built to aid building systems that can detect relationships, correlations, segments, and outliers. It could use natural language to create queries. It could present context-based narratives of important findings. All sorts of things could be created with the new software to help the organization.
Increasing adoption of BI and Analytics
- Invest in data and data prep
- Nurture culture, skills, and leadership
- Keep self-service and Ease of Use in the Forefront
If the challenges of gathering and preparing data are not addressed, it will become more difficult to find a use for BI and analytics. If strong leadership isn’t used to make the employees excited to use the new technologies, the initiative will be a failure. And if ease of use with smart/automated capabilities isn’t used, it’ll hinder adoption of BI and more advanced analytics. Consider these things before upgrading your systems.
What Is ERP?
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has to be considered part of the plan when upgrading your system. In this information technology (IT) has to be combined with the business process to help bring a competitive advantage to others in the same industry. It is anything from reading an e-mail to updating records of procedures. An ERP is an application that uses a centralized database to run the entire company. This medium allows data from one department for viewing in other branches of the same company. It can be bought either as modules for different parts of the agency, or a subset. ERP systems are there to enforce processes that your business will adopt.
- Not explaining what new systems means to users before starting the project – If the users of the upgrades don’t know why it’s happening and are in agreement, the update will fail.
- Not load testing systems with scripts and end users – How do you know if your file loads are typical? Load testing with scripts and users will complete real tests in this area to make sure that the process will work or not.
- Not performing tests of the new process to see if it works or not – Will everything work as planned?
- Not taking change management or testing sincerely – Know everything you need to know about the change and regression tests beforehand, so you aren’t surprised by “new opportunities.”
- Assigning internal personnel as project managers – Get a consultant project manager as they will focus on the upgrade only. They’ll catch the mistakes made and keep things on schedule and budget.
- Not telling others of changes before they happen – End users don’t like change so make sure to communicate before so they aren’t caught off guard.
- Giving classroom training only – Allow for video training that the users can find and use if they come across a problem they can’t fix. Create a Knowledge area that they can access to see before elevating.
- Not moving components to open business standards – This speeds up future upgrades that will happen. Try to change reports and interfaces to open business standards. It will help a lot in the future, and possibly save money with more completed upgrades.
- Not archiving before upgrading and keeping up security during – Archiving before upgrading will save you time and money. It speeds up queries on large tables, and table conversions as they are will run quicker. Security wise, upgrades are to be need-to-know only. There’s no use in upgrading if spies find a way to get the information out to your competitors.
- Assuming internal tech personnel will pick up years of experience in weeks – Keep the consultants around for a while after the upgrade is complete. Enhancements aren’t easy to learn, and someone has to be there who knows how to run the system. Or at least until the first workers understand the system as well.
Impact of IT on Business
IT has a significant impact on how companies design, build and support their business processes. Information systems have a considerable effect on how these methods work. Agencies improve effectiveness and quality of products and services through empowering their employees. Something to consider.
Strategic Information Systems
Strategic information systems (SIS) are used to support and shape business competitive advantages. SIS is defined by its way to be able to change how business is conducted. It is not classified by structure, functionality of areas, or support systems. Anything that is used to change goals or processes of companies add competitive advantage, therefore becoming strategic information systems.
The competitive strategy is how the company is going to compete in the future. What the goals will be, and new plans and/or policies needed to implement everything. The advantage is being able to measure cost, quality and speed over competition. SIS assists businesses gain the advantage through adding to strategic goals of organizations. It is also measured through the increase in performance and productivity, therefore making them more powerful than the competition.
The digital economy is affected all the time as changes in technology occur. This causes change in business models in order to keep up. The core business isn’t changed to keep up with the digital economy even though it feels like it has. For the most part, businesses use the tools offered by the Internet, but nothing else. There are two questions to ask here…
Where does my competitive advantage come from in my business and industry?
How can information technology and the Internet help?
How is SIS Looked at Now?
Most companies consider SIS more of an outwardly focused tool. It aims at increasing direct competition and is visible to all. Now it is more used internally. It focuses on employees’ productivity, smoothing business processes, and helping to make strategic decisions and isn’t visible to all.
Role of IT in Strategic Management
- Innovative Applications
- Competitive Weapons
- Changes in Processes
- Links with Business Partners
- Cost Reductions
- Relationships with Suppliers and Customers
- New Products
- Competitive Intelligence
How To Use The Internet As a Tool
The Internet is the most important tool in competitive intelligence. It is so easy to look up information on the competition. The information that is gathered then can be analyzed further by what is called intelligent agents and data mining. Both deal with software products to help them do their job. Here are some ways to do research on the competition:
- Review Competitor’s Web Sites
- Analyze Related Electronic Discussion Groups
- Examine Publicly Held Financial Documents
- Market Research on Your Own Web Site
- Use Information Delivery Services like My Yahoo
- Use Corporate Research Companies
There are numerous other ways to gain competitive advantages over your competitors. The key is to gain and maintain a sustainable strategic advantage that can be held for years to come. It is suggested that people, technology and shared risk and responsibility will help keep the advantage now. It is so difficult to otherwise as there is so much innovation occurring now.
What is Digital Transformation?
Numerous changes happen where digital economy of business is connected real-time due to new technologies. Digital transformation is directly related due to this. Just about all small and midsized firms have some sort of resources in place. It can be anything from newer and more powerful software and/or computers, new forms of communication or cloud computing. The company has to ensure good implementation and integration of programs to increase performance. How to do this is:
- Hyper-connectivity – Anytime/Anywhere communication
- Unlimited Computing Power – Caused through diverse platforms
- Cloud Computing – Easy access to hosted software/services
- Numerous Sensors and Mobile Devices – Supply continuous streams of information and ways to access them
- Cybersecurity – Lessen internal/external vulnerabilities
Why Buy At All?
Faster growing companies look at ways to drive revenue growth, increase productivity, and get new customers. This is supported through the use of advanced technology. The question becomes what is the best approach to get and use new technology in order to support objectives? Most are buying advanced software applications to help grow their businesses. Buying collaboration software, CRM and ecommerce all help growing businesses through helping internal productivity and efficiency. When one application is updated, they all are. This improves performance of the agency as a whole.
Causes to Upgrade
Most upgrade due to partner and/or customer needs. Their main focus is to improve internally. External influence is also taken into consideration though. Who wants to chase away potential clients due to not listening to their needs too? This is key in order to keep up with competition and the environment that they work in. Effective coordination of technology brings in greater performance results. It is greater then the sum of the parts bought to improve the system as a whole.
The departments that benefit the most from these improvements is sales and marketing. Everyone from services to manufacturing to wholesale and retail benefit too. Internal processes is also up there, but externally faced business is considered more important. This is the rank from highest to lowest in importance:
- Production / Operations
- Commerce / Ecommerce
- Customer Service / Call Center
- Supply Chain Management
- Strategic Planning
- Leverage Technology
- Digital transformation is a continuing process
- Direct / Continuing participation and support of senior management and executives. If there is none, or it is perceived as none, then changes will be hard to implement.
Key Questions to Ask
Key questions to ask yourself and those involved in the process of beginning the changes are many. Where are you falling short compared to other companies? What is the competition doing that you are not? Do you have a strategic plan in place that supports digital transformation? Some things to consider…
A very exciting time in your company might be when you realize that you have to upgrade your systems to keep with the times. It can be very frustrating and can take some time too depending on what needs to be updated. There’s a lot that has to go into the thought process before starting…
- The company in question always has to have the latest and greatest, who change their systems as soon as upgrades become available.
- The company in question goes through more traditional means. Why change what they have when it’s working perfectly fine? These companies upgrade only when forced to do so.
The upgrade plan has to focus on future growth and changes forecasted by the company. The question that needs to be asked when looking ahead is, how will the changes affect upgrade needs in the future?
Five Steps to Planning Upgrades
1. Categorize and Prioritize: Categories include
i. Client Computer Systems
iii. Client Software
iv. Server hardware and software
vi. Network devices
vii. Network Infrastructure
Here items can be picked and chosen as to what the organization decides to upgrade. In this if needed subcategories can be created in order to create a more organized plan.
2. Set Priorities: Prioritize based on the costs and benefits ratio. What items need to be upgraded first? Is it an urgent need or a want? Make sure to not upgrade needlessly, make sure that it’s really needed.
3. Consider Dependencies: When the company is upgrading their systems they need to take into consideration what might be dependent on others. This might create more upgrades in order for the system to work with the new equipment. Or if applications are being upgraded, the system might need to be upgraded in order to work with them.
4. Phased Rollout: Don’t rush it. Testing and discovering of bugs need to be worked out before starting to use the new system. After the tests are completed use small groups of employees to test the upgrades in the production environment. If there’s a learning curve use the fast learners first as they can then learn the new system and assist/teach the others when it rolls out.
5. Keep it Scalable: Write out the plan. Get input from other departments and different levels to help create the plan. Plans for expansion of the company and any restructuring needs to be taken into account here too.
If the organization follows proper planning with scalability included in the process, it can create a very smooth upgrade environment for the company. It would help immensely as upgrading systems can be very costly and stressful if not done correctly. Never rush the process and take time to consider all options before jumping in.
This all started back in the day. Someone would need a system made specifically for them to handle one problem. Soon enough that it was discovered that different problems needed similar solutions, but not always in the same manner of getting them. This is where defining of the information systems began and why it is still needed. When the company in question decides that they need to upgrade, they have to go through a process in order to find the right applications and hardware to handle their data. Classification comes to play here, so that categorizing information can be completed correctly. This will help to make the data one unit instead of many.
How Do You Identify Different Types of Systems?
There is no simple answer to the question. Every company builds an information system (IS) that is tailored to their specific needs. There are many different types of IS that are used in some manner or another. Classifying IS relies on how tasks are performed and responsibilities are divided in the agency. This becomes a pyramid model as most companies are hierarchical, so classes of IS are categorized following the hierarchy going down.
To compare different information systems:
- Transaction Processing Systems (TPS)– These are operational level systems. They are used by shop floor workers and front line staff. Data is gained here through tracking of low-level activities and basic transactions. They function as simple data processing systems only. This is the system that produces information for other systems to use. They are used internally and externally, are used by operational personnel and supervisors and are focused on efficiency. Examples: Payroll, Order processing, Reservations, Payments and Funds Transfers.
- Management Information Systems (MIS) – Management level used by middle managers. This system ensures smooth running of the company for short to medium terms. Information is given out highly structured and helps managers to evaluate the company’s performance through comparison of outputs. MIS is built on data given by TPS. They are based on internal information flow, support structured decisions, but are inflexible with not much analytical ability. Examples: Sales Management, Inventory control, Budgeting, Management Reporting, and Personnel.
- Decision Support Systems (DSS) – Knowledge based system used by senior managers. They analyze existing structured information, allowing managers to estimate any potential effects on decisions they are thinking of implementing. These systems are interactive and are used to solve problems. They can access databases, offer analytical tools, allow simulations to be completed, and can support exchanges of information in the company. This system can alter and build solutions provided by MIS and TPS, that can create insights plus new information to go off on. DSS helps to support badly or semi-structured decisions already being built, and have analytical and modeling capacities. Examples: Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS), Computer Supported Co-operative work (CSCW), Logistics, and Financial Planning.
- Executive Information Systems (EIS) – Strategic level used by executives and senior managers. These systems analyze environments that the company works in, find long-term trends, and plan courses of action. The information gathered is gathered from internal and external sources, and is weakly structured. These systems are designed to be able to be used directly by the executives and are user friendly with the ability to be customized to whomever is using it. EIS gathers and presents data from the MIS or TPS so senior management and executives can see what is going on a make decisions based off what they see. The people who use this want ease of use and being able to predict what will happen to the company in the future. It has to be effective, flexible, and support unstructured decisions. Examples: There are none. These systems are tailored to individual wants of the user, in other words are custom made. There are off the shelf packages that can be customized too.
The Importance of Planning
There is no easy way to explain why there are so many different types of information systems. Every company out there is not the same, or runs their agency in the same manner as others. This is why modifications are made to the systems in order for them to work specifically with what said company uses and the data they keep. Also every level of the agency uses different systems. Not everyone has to have a need to know of everything going on. It is better to keep it at the level that the systems are going to be used at the most. This is why planning for upgrades is so important. If the wrong system is used, or the wrong programs…