Aug 6, 2015

Business Insight is as Critical in Digital IoT as it was in BI

‘Lunacy is doing the same thing again and again, and expecting different results’ Albert Einstein

We are surrounded by Big-data, Digitization, and the maturing of IoT beginning the IoE prospects. Gartner says 78% of enterprises report that they have started planning for some form of Big-Data project. They simultaneously report that the success rate of Big-Data and Digital projects is as dismal as the global BI projects- languishing at a dismal 30% success. We need to start focusing on Business insight which is all about measuring each delivered content for the impact it has on a user’s ability to make better daily decisions and thus improve their life potential. I had published ‘BI Valuenomics – the story of meeting business expectations in BI’ which is most relevant today as we dive into the Big-Data universe, which to most of us is like spending our lives working inside a local city pond and then getting a peek into the coastal waters of the ocean and trying to grasp that totality of the oceans. In reality it's more like going from the bathroom sink to the oceans.

We recommend that all Big-Data projects start with the end, just like all ocean journeys start with a destination for the voyage. There is an old quote ‘No wind is a good wind if the captain knoweth not their destination’ as true in our big data world as it was when it was quoted.  The end may be a P&L Blue Book which allows users to see in real-time the P&L attributes of their sales offices, plants and other critical sales data from a financial P&L point of view. It may be the Sales Deal Closer Book, that compares all the variables that our sales person looks for and a customer makes their decision on, in real-time on their mobile devices. It has to all the 'Total service Book' - of schematic drawings and the parts that may break-down that our service engineer needs when their John Deere harvester send a predictive maintenance alert that there is an ‘X’ % probability that a small $7 part in a $2 million combine will break down in the next 48 hours. It may be a 'Sales SOC book' - Sell or collect today advisor that has all the customer AP and AR details as your sales person walks into a customer building that instantly directs them whether they should be selling or trying to get a payment from their customer. Think big data, real-time, performance and technology only after you have the business context hammered on the design and architecture of the solution. Only then leverage the map reduce engines of Hadoop, the predictive engines of SAP HANA and the OLAP engines of BusinessObjects as your Analytics layer facing the end user. Even here the UI for these analytics and visualizations may make the difference between success and failure. Think Apple, think ten minutes of training and not attaching a PhD thesis to interpret or use these reports.

If you’re not addressing all these components and treating your Hadoop, Horton works and SAP HANA as simply another technical install then that is all you will get folks. A technical installation- nothing more and nothing less.

My colleagues and I have spent the last 7-8 years fighting this uphill battle of Business excellence and even though everybody nods in agreement when we present it they revert back to the familiar patterns in their minds as Edward De Bono had predicted in his book ‘The Mechanism of the Mind’ way back before when.

 Up until recently we have been thinking of Business Intelligence and Big data as Systems driven by  Technology alone. It is only in the last 4 to 5 years that we have realized that these are systems of Business Insight from start to finish. Systems of Business Insight is a recipe that starts and ends with the customers tastes and has a mix of fundamental technology, standards, processes and people that make it all fit together and work as it should. Getting technology to work without delivering any business benefits or insights is a fairly simple process and Gartner states that more than 70% of our BI investments globally continue to travel down this path. However, making a difference that is scored by business benefit alone is what the desired goal and outcome should become. It never about spending or saving IT funds, it’s about delivering the highest quality platform at the lowest cost that is most critical.

The digital journey is a very scientific process and very repeatable as mentioned in my earlier blog ‘Let’s get digital’. Some of the key takeaways can be

  • Think Strategy: But plan and act tactical and while still keeping your eyes focused on the long-term technical and business roadmaps. Get a strategic sponsor both with a firm belief and commitment to long term goals. Think and pick a BVA, Business Value Attainment, focused team. Flow through with 90-120 days production deliverables. Run deliverables through the BVA acid test audit and then proceed to the next.
  • Follow a scientific proven process: that guarantees to deliver high business benefits. Not only in statements but as a contractual benchmark and commitment. Without proven BVA processes most of your resources will rapidly fall back into familiar patterns and then your get a predictable end result as reported by Gartner – under 30% user satisfaction if you are lucky.
  • A Digital Matrix Architecture: That start with Business Benefits and needs and then proceeds to work towards identifying, networking and deploying sensors that meet these new spatial analytics needs. A solid digital matrix will drive the data engines towards a defined business goal and define data feed management along with algorithms for discovery, insight, reduction, collaboration, governance and data harmonization guidelines.

If you want to succeed in the digital world of tomorrow then you have to think out of the box and build something really different. This difference will rarely come from external experts, your Infrastructure providers or your HW / SI partners. These nuggets are buried in your own organization and you need to find the process to find these diamonds within the vast confines of experience your employees carry about your world. Who knows your business better than most – your employees. So leverage their buried knowledge and drive your organization to stellar success by combining their knowledge with the other partners like infra, networks, sensors, HW, SW and SI’s all driven by a singularity of BVA and business benefits alone.

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