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Lyndsay Wise

Hi and welcome to my blog! I look forward to bringing you weekly posts about what is happening in the world of BI, CDI and marketing performance management.

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Lyndsay is the President and Founder of WiseAnalytics, an independent analyst firm specializing in business intelligence, master data management and unstructured data. For more than seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay conducts regular research studies, consults, writes articles and speaks about improving the value of business intelligence within organizations. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Lyndsay's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Mid-market organizations have always been familiar with service-based (hosted) offerings. Whether Salesforce, or ERP, Accounting, etc. types of applications, these organizations are used to hosted applications that store data off-site. What this means is that the new push to the cloud, isn’t necessarily so new for all organizations. Many are starting to take advantage of what the cloud has to offer, while other businesses are simply continuing or expanding their cloud deployments. The two things that have changed are the number of solutions available and the understanding of those offerings.

More awareness about the cloud

Although there is more awareness about cloud offerings, not all organizations want to have their data hosted or outside their firewall. In addition, some organizations misinterpret the concept of cloud-based offerings by not understanding the difference between where the data resides and whether it is just hosted or if services are attached. For instance, I have been told by more than one organization that they do not use any cloud offerings, only to find out through more analysis that a number of applications are cloud-based but not hosted as a service – in essence creating a differentiation between the level of control the customer has over the data they use.

With SMBs specifically, this makes a big difference. Many organizations want solutions with lower overall TCO and quicker times to implement, but still want to control their access to data and the overall use of the systems they deploy. Consequently, for these businesses, the cloud represents two levels of use:

  1. the hosting of and access to data off-site within a cloud environment
  2. the ability to manage that data or the applications the way the company desires, or alternatively, to be provided access to the data as a service through a hosted offering

Basically, a lot of the hype around cloud adoption and expanded offerings, simply means that SMBs have more choice when identifying the best way to leverage technology and find value through their data assets.

 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted April 24, 2014 6:24 PM
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Technology projects always face unique challenges due to the fact that their success requires taking into account two viewpoints. The first being from the business point of view, identifying the business challenge and understanding how a solution will address specific needs. The second being an IT outlook and understanding the technology best fit. In some cases these will match and in other cases there will be discrepancies. The reality is that few companies will be able to avoid this disparity of views. However, if organizations can take responsibility for their portion of solution evaluation and collaborate to make the right business and technology decisions to support long term business goals, then both entities can develop a balance. 

Both business and IT need to take responsibility for their respective areas. This means that business units:

  1. develop an understanding of their business challenges and the causes of their pains
  2. evaluate the requirements based on their needs 
  3. understand the gaps between current technology use and why it doesn’t meet business needs
  4. make sure to look at must haves versus nice to haves
  5. create agreement among stakeholders who will also be using the new solution

In most cases IT supports and develops business applications meaning they require:

  1. an understanding of the business challenges being faced
  2. how these translate into features and solution capabilities and general technical requirements
  3. what the integration and storage requirements are and whether changes in infrastructure are required to support the new solution
  4. development effort and support for offerings being evaluated and the implications
  5. building up applications that meet business needs longer term

These aspects represent the first look at the responsibilities of each of these entities. The reality is that because they overlap, collaboration is required. How much and specific aspects will differ depending on the politics within the organization and the amount of collaboration that already exists. The best balance within organizations generally exist when both entities look at software projects as something that is the responsibility of both the business unit sponsoring the project and the IT department. This way both understand the value of each set of contributions. On the business side this includes all of the subject matter expertise, while the IT department develops the solution and supports the technology required to actualize the project. 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted March 31, 2014 2:47 PM
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The term “big data” is a bit of a misnomer. Many mid-market organizations feel that big data doesn’t apply to them based on the size and infrastructure assumptions associated with these projects. Consequently, many organizations overlook the benefits of looking at big data as a BI and data management strategy. Whether or not big data should be addressed depends on many factors. Some of these include:

  • types of data being analyzed – this means looking at whether data should/can be stored within a relational database or should be stored separately within another format
  • purpose of analytics – traditional BI environments enable certain types of analytics well, but generally don’t support operational analytics, or the ability to store and access the data variety or complexities associated with big data
  • reason for information storage – big data is broader than BI or analytics and the different applications should be explored
  • level of complexity – sometimes organizations do not have high data volumes, but do have complexities based on industry or company specific requirements that are best handled within a big data infrastructure

These represent a subset of reasons why mid-sized businesses should be looking at whether big data applies within their organizations and what needs to happen to implement a big data framework.

As with all technology projects, more considerations are required than just looking at whether the organization faces challenges that reflect the factors above or others conducive to big data environments. Organizations need to understand their current infrastructure, what they can support, what hardware or cloud based provisions need to be considered, costs of initiating a new data management project, and how all of this will directly affect business. Understanding the bigger picture and where a big data solution might fit within a broader information architecture and how it benefits the company as a whole is one of the first steps of deciding whether it’s the right step for the organization.

Overall, the important thing to remember is not to discredit the potential big data can bring to the organization because it may seem out of reach as open source technologies, internal resources, and general education can help mid-market companies move towards their big data goals. 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted March 18, 2014 6:31 PM
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Many BI implementations are based on a subset of business pains or initiatives within the organization. These projects serve one or a few departments and generally take into account a certain outlook already perpetuated within the organization. In many of these cases, analytics are predefined and even data discovery involves the analysis of pre-defined business rules. As these projects are rolled out, they begin to unravel. On the one hand, they address a specific set of requirements based on what departments have faced in the passed or are used to analyzing in the present. On the other hand, there is a general lack of ability to delve into issues more completely and address new issues as they occur or evaluate information in a different way.

An example that is becoming more prevalent these days is an organization’s need to develop customer-facing applications and create competitive advantage through better customer experience. A holistic approach to BI and data access is a key way to achieve this.  For instance, developing successful customer-facing applications means understanding the needs of the customer, how they interact with the tools they have access to, why they call in for support, how important of a customer they are, what their account looks like, what services they use, etc. Only by consolidating a wide variety of data sources can an organization really gain insight into their customer base. Information such as accounts receivable, customer support, transaction history, application use, and the like should be consolidated to provide account managers, call centre reps, and anyone with access to the customer insights into how to better service their customer or where to draw the line.

Obviously, customer-facing applications is just one area that requires a broader outlook when looking at the information required to provide better products and services. Whether sales, marketing, supply chain, or industry focused, organizations require the ability to analyze data that extends beyond sales pipelines, sales performance, or marketing. With mobile access, cloud based computing, and big data stores all becoming a reality and providing more flexibility in what and how information is accessed, the fact remains that unless all types of important data are easily accessible, BI remains limited.

The concept of holistic BI right now is still just a concept to many organizations, and that is ok. Not all traditional BI infrastructures can adequately handle new data types or complexities with ease. Consequently, many organizations are looking at how to restructure their outlooks and BI infrastructures to address newer challenges that apply a more holistic approach to data management and analytics. Looking at holistic BI as an iterative approach and developing a game plan on how to achieve broader data access and better customer insights is the first step to taking advantage of the full benefits BI and supporting technology now have to offer organizations.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted February 28, 2014 5:32 PM
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Sometimes SMBs get stuck trying to identify the value proposition of investing in more robust reporting or analytics solutions to take their businesses to the next level. After all, running a business is stressful enough. Taking time away from daily operations to analyze business processes and take an accounting of what is working, what isn’t, and how to use data for better information efficiencies can seem like a waste of time. The reality, however, is that because data is what drives organization success, analytics are becoming harder to overlook. Where Excel used to be enough, the fact is the time it takes to create the right spreadsheets and recreate the process on a regular basis could be spent more effectively making business decisions and planning competitive strategies. Organizations need more standardized ways of managing their customers, supplier relationships, products, and services. This requires developing a holistic approach to information access points so that employees and decision makers do not have to spend time trying to find data instead of interacting with it. 

For some SMBs, the actual roadblock was due to the software available (time to value, pricing, licensing, etc.) and not a dread of spreadsheet use and broader information management. Luckily the availability of a wide variety of solutions that can be deployed various ways helps organizations get closer to this goal. This means that although the initial requirements identification is needed, organizations can develop solutions that meet their needs and that automate the generation of regularly required information and insights. The level of detail and complexity is left up to the organization, but taking this step gives employees an automated approach to business insight.

Irrespective of why analytics are starting to become more important to SMBs, technology can now match business needs and help support information insights without breaking the bank. Overall, understanding customer buying habits, supply chain inadequacies, or market opportunities cannot be achieved effectively through traditional spreadsheet use. At the same time, evaluating what is working and what needs improvement requires looking at information assets holistically to identify how things can run more smoothly and what opportunities can be identified.   

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Posted February 12, 2014 12:19 AM
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