For the most part, businesses know they need some form of business intelligence (BI). Unfortunately, however, many of these businesses end up investing in something like a Hadoop cluster without much of an idea on how or why they use it.
As a result, they, especially mid-sized businesses who may feel they were doing just fine before BI, may get frustrated and abandon it. Those sentiments may be slightly premature.
A report from Mihaela Muntean of West University of Timisoara in Romania details and projects the benefit of utilizing BI, along with extolling its uses and revealing some of its current insights. Their focus is on the mid-sized business, the ones who are just on the edge of having enough data to justify running it through some big data analytics.
Per Muntean, “corporate data, like customer information, supply chain information, personnel data, manufacturing data, sales and marketing activity data as well as any other source of critical information, need to be brought together into a single coherent framework for real-time reporting and detailed analysis within the (extended) enterprise. With the help of a BI approach, data is transformed into a high-value insight.”
One of the biggest concerns with implementing BI is getting enough insight out to recover the not insignificant investment that has to be made in it. To run that risk/reward analysis, Muntean ran a Monte Carlo simulation for mid-sized businesses running BI over the next several years.
According to the report, as a result of BI, sales would increase 107 to 109 percent over the next three years while operational and personnel costs go down. In real numbers, this means that a mid-sized company that brings in around $700,000 a year in profit could increase their margin to $5.3 million dollars over four years.
While the report lacks certain clarity with regard to the simulation’s parameters and specifics, the result is at least promising. The obvious conclusion the report draws is that businesses should be investing in their own data warehouses if they are serious about long-term analytics. “The efficacy of having a centralized data store with quality, integrated, accessible, high performance and scalable data can’t be denied, but short term business needs can conduct to a data mart oriented BI solution. DWs are not a once off implementation; they are a medium/long term investment.”
It makes sense that the result should be promising, provided businesses are intelligent with business intelligence. To help, the report suggests two areas, mobile and social, which will hold the key to successful analytics in the years to come.
“Microsoft's mobile BI support strategy for the Apple iPad inched forward slightly for those using SharePoint 2010. More than 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices by 2013.” It is no secret that more business, whether it be transactions, interactions, or anything else, is happening more on mobile devices. People who deem themselves important, which is pretty much everyone, like to be seen doing work on the go as well as in the office.
This rise in business mobility also contributes to the rise in both social data itself and its importance. The report points to QR codes as an important tool for social BI going forward.
An interesting fact the report noted is that the iPad is quickly becoming the dominant mobile device. “According to Dresner Advisory the iPadhas been identified as a dominant platform for Mobile BI.” Though providing almost as much functionality as an iPhone or similar smartphone, the iPad is popular for use while watching television. eBay noticed this and created an app that identifies items in the show one is watching.
“BI Systems, based on data aggregation, analysis, and reporting capabilities, are tools that facilitate all kind of business analysis, relevant enterprise reporting and performance management specific tasks.” Indeed, BI can give companies the opportunity to compete in this increasingly digitally and data intensive world. According to the report, those who are experiencing frustration should meet BI with vigilance and intelligence.