Redefining Business Intelligence to Unleash Value from Big Data

Marshal Corea HP

Few organizations doubt the immense value that big data and analytics can bring to their enterprise. The killer question is how to unlock the value quickly - and on a sustainable basis - without huge upfront investment.

Rapid growth in the sheer volume and variety of unstructured data and sensor data is outpacing the ability of organizations to cope. As a result they are under mounting pressure to improve their big data analytics expertise and capacity to remain competitive.

Capabilities in industrial scale analytics and data-driven insights are key to survival in today’s age of the customer – and processing has to be achieved in real time. It’s a challenge acknowledged by most organizations. According to Forrester Research, business intelligence (BI) was the number one software priority for enterprise project plans in 2013.

Those that succeed in becoming data-driven and agile are strongly placed to transform customer and employee engagement and target new business opportunities. Organizations that fail to modernize and take advantage of these new data dynamics risk having their competitive advantage seriously eroded.

Too late after the event

Modern enterprises are expected to continuously deliver better products and services, improve operations, better manage risks and develop new business models to remain relevant.

To stay ahead in such an environment they must be able to analyze 100% of relevant data from new sources, such as human, machine and transactional, and use the data effectively so employees and partners can create new innovations.

Forrester Research* put it this way: “As the amount of data grows and companies’ ability to harness and create value from that data improves, firms will be able to optimize almost all aspects of business operations, including sourcing, logistics and the customer experience.

“In addition, major dynamics like the digital revolution are upending whole industries; as a result, data-driven insights will become critical to business survival. Therefore, BI analytics is and will continue to be, one of the main focus areas for companies’ investments and business strategies.”

Traditional BI environments are configured to provide some level of analytics and reporting. But the focus tends to be limited to coverage of corporate performance and analytics based on transactional data after the event.

Such legacy systems are not designed to provide insights from new formats and higher volumes of data on an industrialized scale. As a result of this technology shortfall, many enterprises today are faced with an inability to harness relevant data and share it across the enterprise, potentially impacting business agility and competitiveness.

Taking a three-step approach

Overcoming these challenges may appear daunting and expensive, particularly as there is a pressing need to become data driven and agile quickly.

But by taking an ‘as-a-service’ approach, changes can be implemented without costly upfront investments, regardless of where an organization is in the transformation journey.

There are three core elements to a successful business intelligence modernization strategy:

1. Discovery environments that address how to bring data to a broader workforce or employee base so that they can make data-driven and agile decisions. Environments include data lakes – storage repositories that hold raw data in its native format until required – data visualization tools, and services that enable rapid, enterprise-wide data sharing and analytics collaboration.

2. Analytics solutions to support specific needs to run the business more efficiently, whether it be helping customers build something or making targeted improvements.

3. Hybrid data management services to enable enterprises to pursue business innovation through industrial scale analytics. This is integrated into business processes and systems to leverage all relevant information, whether it is from within the organizations’ transaction systems, social, sensor or streaming data.

(* TechRadar™ report BI Analytics, Q3 2013, Forrester Research,  Holger Kisker, Vice President and Research Director, and Charles Green, Analyst)