Follow Datanami:
October 17, 2016

Putting Data into Action: BI is the Differentiator in Most Industries

Louis Vistola

In today’s highly competitive world, businesses need a way to stand out from the competition. Business intelligence (BI) is the key to gaining this advantage and is becoming increasingly important to the success of businesses in every industry.

The challenge is how to derive BI in a timely manner given the explosive amounts of data form intelligence devices, social media, website logs, mobile device apps, or other sources available to companies today.

However, to be a true differentiator, BI must expand deeper into organizations than ever before. So the analytic tools must be easy to use, highly visual, and accommodate collaboration and sharing. This is where Altair can help. Its Envision solution is a cloud-based BI platform, designed for a self-service user experience. Envision democratizes data visualization, exploration, and discovery. Users can connect to their data to quickly create and publish charts and dashboards in an environment that is intuitive and collaborative yet powerful and secure.

Embracing today’s smart devices and data explosion

Companies in every industry now have much more data to sift through than at any time in the past. In many cases, BI derived from this data can be used to make smarter decisions, improve customer service, increase revenues, and reduce problems by taking pro-active measures early on.

Eying potential benefits, organizations in industries across all fields are rapidly embracing the fast analysis of new data.

For example, manufacturers that digitize their processes, make use of the Internet of things (IoT), and employee data analytics on that data realize significant benefits. A survey by the American Society for Quality of manufacturing companies found that of those that make use of advanced analytics:

  • 82 percent increased efficiencies
  • 49 percent experience fewer product defects
  • 45 percent increased customer satisfaction.

The value of insightful data in manufacturing is only expected to grow as companies rely more heavily on lean manufacturing, connected factory (IoT), supply chain automation, and other technologies to improve productivity, quality, and competitiveness.

As a result, most manufacturers are exploring or have already adopted predictive maintenance approaches that try to identify production line problems before they happen. Using data from machines and stations on a connected factory floor, the goal is to identify problems in the making and take corrective actions before bad products come off the line or the line must be shut down to replace or repair something.

Similarly, utilities need to turn information into power by utilizing data analytics to better understand and anticipate customer usage, improve serve levels and detect energy loss. Most utilities are undertaking analytics initiatives in key areas such as advanced meter infrastructure, asset management, or customer service and billing. One driver leading utilities to the expanded use of analytics is the abundance of data. There has been an explosion in the amount of data that is available for analysis thanks to the increased deployment of smart devices, be it meters at customer sites or monitoring sensors on critical infrastructure equipment.

As the value of data continues to grow, current system cannot keep pace with demands for in-depth data analysis. Critically, many different business and operational areas within a utility now have more data available. This in turn means that many aspects of running a utility can benefit from analytics. For instance, some organizations are using analytics for demand response, preventive maintenance (of transformers, for example), or energy trading.

To put the data analysis issues into perspective, consider that roughly 800 million smart meters are expected to be deployed worldwide by 2020 and smart power line monitors that measure current, voltage, temperature, wind, frequency, and harmonics at hundreds of samples per second will become widely used in the industry.

The ability to measure and analyze data about electricity distribution and consumption on a more granular basis can unlock significant value including:

  • Unbilled consumption identified by following the ‘meter-to-cash’ trail can generate incremental revenue
  • Detection of theft and fraud in the grid can reveal lost revenue
  • Proactive maintenance of expensive transformers and other equipment in the grid can save millions of dollars by postponing replacement to the future.

In retail, customer use of mobile devices and apps, along with IoT used within the supply chain and stores, is contributing to a data explosion. The ability to make sense of the data and to visualize patterns can help retailers optimize their customers’ shopping experience, rethink their loyalty strategies, and adapt to customers’ omni-channel shopping.

A critical element of the omni-channel approach is analytics — both at the individual customer level and at broader levels of what customers are buying at certain locales and at certain times of day. If a retailer can get a grasp of the latter, it is in a better position to understand how it can best reach out to customers through eCommerce, and also through the strategic positioning of physical stores that will garner the most trade.

Data-driven retailers look to BI software to analyze raw data in various areas, including in-store management, merchandising, supply chain operations, employee retention and recruitment, customer support and the eCommerce site.

Selecting the right technology partner

Freedom to explore and share information is required across all industries. Envision pulls information together for anyone to discover and share data-driven insights.

Beyond its data-to-dashboard speed, Envision sets itself apart in the rapidly growing BI market space through its unique ability to be accessed as a subscription-based public cloud platform and as a private cloud BI solution. In both cases, there is no price differentiation between viewers and authors; everyone is an author with full administrative controls down to a specific user’s permissions and access.

Powered by a unique floating business model based on concurrent usage – versus named user –Envision provides a scalable, long-term solution for today’s data-driven businesses.

“Flexibility and ease of use are a big part of what defines Envision,” says Yeshwant Mummaneni, Altair’s Senior Vice President of Analytics. “These attributes transpire not only in its user interface, with the ability to build dashboards in minutes and modify layout with a few clicks, but also in Envision’s ability to integrate with other applications in a very seamless and easy fashion.”

The bottom line is that Envision gives companies in industries dealing with Big Data, IoT, and other new data sources the flexibility and ease-of-use required in a BI solution for today’s fast-paced business world. With Envision, companies can cost-effectively expand their use of BI to more people and application areas. And those users get tools that are intuitive to use that quickly deliver powerful results to help the business make faster, smarter decisions.

Try Envision for free by visiting: