It May Be The Perfect Time to Give up Your Condominium and Look into Purchasing a Home

Owning a home is certainly something that you have seriously considered for some time. On a particular exquisite Saturday morning you found yourself out for a drive and you came upon an attractive place. You discovered yourself enchanted by the scenery, the magnificent properties, along with the structures of the metropolis. You could not help but dream about just what it might possibly be like to own a residence there. You ultimately went back to your condominium only to find out an email from your landlord informing you your rental payments definitely will go up after you put your signature on your lease for one more year. You simply can’t help but moan as well as think about the place you just returned from. Suppose it were possible to have a home of your own? You obviously need a housing expert to help you discover almost all that is certainly included.

If you’re wondering about the options for purchasing a residence, there are people patiently waiting to aid you. A number of people just look at price tag of the property. There are a number of costs affiliated with obtaining a house. There are mortgage lender service fees, property taxes plus there might possibly even be surveyors. You will need money for that deposit to hold on a specific place whilst you look at others. You may need a home sales expert to allow you to determine whether you have the funds or can acquire the funds to go forward on this approach. There is a great deal included before you venture out and pick your new residence. It really is important to discover the correct agent to be with you along the way.

Should you be able to get rid of your apartment and also the increasing rent payments, try this site to find a real estate agent who can allow you to browse through the occasionally complicated waters of the housing industry. A real estate agent most certainly really wants to make a sale, in addition they want to see their clients in their perfect home. They are in the business for making dreams become a reality and yours is very important to them. These individuals are there to offer you More Help in order to understand what you really can afford and ways to ensure you get in that new home. Reap the benefits of their very own knowledge and recruit their assistance in getting you in the home you have always wanted. It can be certainly not as challenging as you think it may end up being. With a terrific real estate adviser, you could have a residential home of your own. Set off and talk with a real estate professional at this time.

Tips to Choosing a Home

Put in your own companion or even long term housemate’s ideas in where typically the ideal area may end up being as well as you have received the one-way solution to any large realty barrier. Be start to encircling suburbs for you to widen your own personal house research. So think about a much more inexpensive suburbia nearby, or even one exactly where you’re far more likely for you to get just what you would like for your current hard-earned $. Glance at this particular property information online to find out more.

Sometimes folks think that they know exactly where they desire to always be but these people could in fact be inside other locations that would certainly work much better. Other periods they concentrate on some thing so a lot and it may be not exactly what they could afford and also they’re in no way going for you to get pretty what that they want, any time the following suburb away can offer them the much a great deal better outcome.

Obtaining in initial is generally the distinction between snaring and absent out in a property that’s only right with regard to you. End up being the very first to watch a home with some sort of private good discounts. If anyone may get homes which owners tend to be willing to be able to sell before or which are privately owned sales, a person can end up being the very first in in order to view that and the particular first in order to buy that. Click the link with regard to great details.

Move Beyond Business Intelligence

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 Business   Intelligence  (BI) is not just about providing a means to present  business  information; it is an enabler that improves the power of individuals to make knowledgeable decisions. In order to unleash this power, BI needs to move beyond data and reporting, and become more integrated into the processes that actually run the business. BI should be extended to focus on individual needs, providing simple and proactive tools that can be called upon at any time and used to enhance business collaboration throughout the company. A number of key trends will drive companies to move Beyond  Business   Intelligence  over the coming years:

Driving Performance Management from inside the Business

Enterprise Performance Management is a set of processes that help organizations optimize their business performance. It is a framework for organizing, automating and analyzing business methodologies, metrics, processes and systems that drive business performance. Over the next 5 years, Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) will begin to supersede traditional  Business   Intelligence . More emphasis will be placed on how organisations define, develop, communicate and deliver strategies and plans, and how these are managed, monitored and assessed as they are executed. Organisations will need to change attitudes of both executives and staff to create a culture willing to listen, learn and innovate. With this willingness to share ideas and adapt quickly to change, the organisation will be able to create an environment where freedom of information, collaboration of individuals and traceability of governance are core business values.

Linking Budgeting, Planning and Execution

With the current downturn in the global economy reducing budgets, the need to adequately forecast both the budget and overall outcome of strategies and plans is becoming critical. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study of US companies showed that 65 per cent of respondents indicated that their budgeting and forecasting needed to be more relevant, while 44 per cent saw the link between strategy and planning as requiring the most improvement. Utilising historical and external information, executives can predict the results of strategies and/or plans, allowing them to construct feasible business strategies with obtainable objectives, and support the development of achievable plans with realistic budgets.

Utilising Real-time Information

Decision making will begin to be disseminated throughout the organisation moving from back-office to front-office staff (i.e. sales, call centre). Management will begin to work to identify key attributes that affect decisions and feed these to the front-office staff, allowing for decisions to be made that realistically affect the overall business. Having the most up to date information is critical to making better decisions. As information moves closer to the front-office and impacts decisions made there, the latency of information must be reduced.

Creating simpler ways to get knowledge

As BI becomes more integrated into the operational processes of an organisation, the methods required to retrieve the information need to be simplified so that the natural process of decision making is not interrupted. Solutions need to provide simple and engaging mechanisms for users to retrieve the relevant information at the right point of the process. Technology that provides flexible reporting will need to be “fronted” with pre-built focused and personalised solutions that are applicable to the step of the process and the role of the individual interacting with it. Providing these types of solutions will enable organisations to reduce the skills necessary to access the information and speed up the process of decision making.

Utilising Unstructured data

BI has historically been based on structured data gathered from applications and databases utilising a small amount of the actual information within the organisation. Typically, 80 percent of business information is unstructured, held within documents, email communications and other formats. New techniques for harvesting this information will continue to be developed including enhancements in text mining and analysis, the ongoing development of the Semantic Web and the increased use of Natural Language Processing (NLP). These developments will allow organisations to include new data into their analysis (i.e. call centre communications, customer complaints, and email communications), improving knowledge of their customers and lead to more innovative sales, marketing and retention strategies.

Delivering Knowledge at decision points

Execution is a result of thousands of decisions being made by employees acting on information they have and their prior experiences. In order to execute more effectively, companies need to take advantage of the skills of their resources, and the in-built inclination of people to improve business performance. By defining who is accountable for each decision, the company can empower its employees and focus management on identifying decision making patterns that can represent best practice. This best practice can be disseminated throughout the organisation so that continuous improvements in decision making can be seen in the future. To support employees, management needs to ensure that the relevant information is available at the various decision points, enabling the employees to move forward with the confidence that the decision is correct.

Bridging the gap between business and technology

One of the key problems that affect every company is the struggle that they have when business and technical people are in the same room. The technologists are frustrated that the business does not understand why IT is critical to their success and how it can help the business move forward. The business is frustrated that IT never seems to understand what they want and complains when they want to make changes just before the project is delivered.

This gap is one of the most common problems facing companies trying to implement BI solutions (but this problem is not limited internally). Many management consultancies provide strategic business advice on how to improve business performance, build strategic initiatives and change the operations of the business, with little or no regard to how this will be implemented. Technology vendors build applications and data warehouses that do much more than the business desires, and sometimes require the business to change key processes.

Acting in isolation business and technology can be driven down different directions; communication is the key to bridging the gap. By developing and utilising a common and consistent language that both the business and IT can understand, requirements defined, delivered and measured throughout the lifecycle of the solution.

Conclusion

As these trends show, in the future more emphasis will be put on the integration of information into everyday tasks and how business improvements can be made. Technology will still enable the solutions and continue to drive many of the opportunities available to the business, but the focus of solution definition and design will move to the business and be based on five core values

  • FOCUS – Providing personalised and tailored guidance and information to people within the organisation allowing them to make the right decisions
  • ACTION – Allowing the organisation to move away from a “question and answer” model to one which provides “actionable information” to all people, allowing them to integrate information into the natural flow of their business activities.
  • COLLABORATION – Using information to allow individuals to share ideas and inform them of their impact to the overall goals of the business
  • INTEGRATION – Combining multiple sources of structured and unstructured data allowing companies to extend their knowledge network and open up previously unexplored information repositories
  • TRACEABILITY – Using information during the process of strategy definition and planning. Information can be made available throughout the organisation, allowing both management and operational resources to understand the impact of their contribution to the business

Whilst focusing on these core values, companies will utilise more Advanced Analysis techniques (i.e. Predictive models for forecasting, complex attribute generation, What-if Models) to turn the information available into valuable knowledge. Distributing this knowledge throughout the organisation to people at all levels of the  business  in focused, personalised and easily usable solutions will be the key to moving Beyond  Business   Intelligence .

The journey will not be complete overnight, it is a commitment that needs to be made by the company, but the long-term benefits will positively affect all aspects of the companies business. The company will be more proactive in the way it manages itself, able to effectively utilise the skills of its resources, and continually improve business performance.

Many of the building blocks exist today; companies can leverage what they have already implemented and add value in improved reporting and information analysis, plugging the gap between the day-to-day operational and financial systems that run the business and the top-level strategic reviews that show whether it’s on course. By measuring themselves against the core business values, companies can identify areas of improvement where immediate benefits can be realised.

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Business Intelligence – Beat the Recession

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These are the rainy days we hoped would never come. We are living in a time of tightened purse strings and uncertain prospects. The shadow of the bank manager looms over many previously flourishing businesses.

Difficult decisions are being made everywhere. Business owners are searching for financial stability, managers for the consistent performance results which will signal job security.

But whilst the current situation may be grim, there is gold at the end of the rainbow for those companies which do survive this recession. Rewarded with a bigger market share, and armed with the kind of confidence that outrunning the predator brings, these businesses will step out into a brighter future and reap the rewards.

 Business   Intelligence  can help you to ensure that your  business  is one of those survivors.

Undeniably the most pressing issues facing any business are those of eliminating unnecessary cost in all areas, attracting and servicing custom and avoiding the cashflow pitfalls of debtors and poor decision making. The good news is that for every one of these crucial areas, there are ways to excavate the secrets to maximise profit and uncover the potential in the data you already hold from your day to day trading activities.

BI can aid a company’s survival during the lean times as well as its expansion in times of abundance.

While they are an undeniable fact of a tough economic climate, redundancies are never a nice event, but selecting the wrong person for redundancy can be a disaster both in monetary terms and for staff morale. And the beauty of BI is that it can fine tune decision making. With all the information to hand new options can be considered.

Maybe your call centre is open from 08:00 to 18:00, when only two calls a month are received after 17:00 and none until after 09:00. Cutting the working day by 2 hours for four employees saves a fifth from redundancy and does not impact the service to the customer.

BI provides the means to explore these opportunities and really fine tune a business. Using the call centre example above, the workload can also be determined based on the length, frequency and distribution of enquiries and an accurate estimate of the man hours needed to cover all calls.

Joe’s Garage is going from strength to strength. He has bought two more struggling garages and through his approach of specialisation and  Business   Intelligence  driven decision making. Then, disaster. In an attempt to rejuvenate an ailing motor industry, the government introduce an initiative where driver get £2000 guaranteed for their old cars when they trade them in for a new car. Suddenly, Joe’s customer base is buying new cars, not repairing their old ones.

Striking a Balance And What Your Business Needs

As is no doubt apparent,  Business   Intelligence  really comes into its own when providing guidance in company critical situations. But things are not quite that cut and dried, and following BI generated results blindly can be as harmful as operating without guidance.

BI should aid decision making, not replace it. This is true in all cases, but is particularly crucial when a company is endeavouring to survive a drop in the market place.

BI can also be used to justify a decision which has already been made. To provide a simple example, if you are fully aware that one employee has a poor absence record and worse timekeeping, then providing proof of this to back up your decision makes it seem more considered.

Indeed, it is. And a quick look at said employees work performance may reveal they are more productive than those that do have good attendance record. In this case it may be worth warning the employee (or buying them an alarm clock). However, some things will never show on a BI report, such as how well an employee works with others and such soft skills.

Recession based BI is not just about cutting hours or downsizing the workforce. It can also assist in fine tuning other business practises that can make all the difference when every penny counts.

Identifying which customers take months to pay and insisting they pay in advantage (or not to deal with them at all) can have a huge positive impact when cash flow is so important. Outstanding debtors can be categorised as regular clients and one off customers, and treated according when reminding them of their debt.

Focused marketing is also an ideal strategy when cash is short and your customer base needs extending.

Other, more company specific analysis may be invaluable to cutting costs. Any company that features transport in its services or business process may want to geographic reporting to compare actual mileage to ideal distances. Some longer routes may be quicker than short ones, but the savings in fuel may make it worth it.

Joe knows that all will return to normal in a year or so, when the new cars are in need of servicing or repair. But currently, his target market is down forty percent. For his business to survive he knows he needs to take action, but the severity of the situation makes him reluctant to make any ill considered decisions.

Joe arranges a one day consultancy with Patrick to discuss his options. He has a few ideas but knows that Patrick has been doing a lot of work in this arena and so will have ideas of his own.

Instant Pay Off

An additional advantage of using BI for this task is that it provides a solid proof of why a certain employee has been made redundant. This can help explain the situation to the employee themselves and usually curtails said employee from wanting to appeal the decision as they know it is based on fact rather than personal opinion.

The avoidance of one tribunal can be enough to offset the entire cost of the BI development.

Soft Advantages

Basing a redundancy on facts and figures that can be demonstrated and shown to the employee goes along way to removing the personal element that can cause the employee to take offence and make a bad situation worse.

Using BI to analyse performance before making any redundancy decisions also sends a positive message to the more capable of members of staff that their hard work has not been ignored. Experience has also shown that overall productivity tends to increase as employees have positive goals to work to rather than just waiting for the hammer to fall.

Because of the nature of the business requirements driving these reports, they can also be used for awarding bonuses or evaluating staff for promotions or pay rises when more abundant times return.

Joe gives a broad idea to Patrick of the factors he wants to measure his employees by, as well as investigating the general statistics regarding cash flow and profits.

Because of the economic climate the consultant has produced these reports many times in recent months for many businesses in all types of sectors. It is a quick job for him to alter some existing reports for the staff evaluations. However, the reports for cash flow are more specific to Joe’s Garage and so it is quicker to develop these from a fresh start, though the reports the BI Consultant has previously developed for Joe are certainly a help.

Hiring Expertise

The options for implementing employee evaluations are the same as for any BI implementation and are covered in my article “ Business   Intelligence  – Project Management Tips”.

Some of those options may seem expensive to a struggling company. However, because of the commonalities with HR reporting an additional option is available in the form of off-the-shelf reporting packs.

These are a set of reports that should cover most, if not all of a company’s requirements with a minimum of configuration.

The strength of these report packs is that they tend to be comparatively inexpensive and quick to implement compared to beginning from nothing. I personally recommend starting with a report pack and complimenting it with a few days consultancy to amend and tweak the pack to your company’s specific requirements. Ideally, hire a consultant from the company that developed the pack and so is familiar with its contents.

This approach should cost less than a photocopier, and can save a struggling company. While the types of reports are the same for any type of BI implementation, dashboards really come into their own.

Being able to provide an overview of an employees entire work based ranking, from accuracy of work to time keeping, is a powerful tool.

With all the information at his fingertips, Joe looks over his company. The news is not good and it is clear that the garages are losing more money than he first thought. Joe has only just built his empire and is reluctant to lay off any of his employees. He rings Patrick and requests a few additional options on his reports to allow him to explore a particular idea his has.

New versions of the reports are supplied and Joe is able to juggle the numbers to reach a viable solution with minimum damage. Joe consults with his employees to gauge their reaction to his proposal. Joe cuts everyone to a three and a half day week and closes two garages. No employees are made redundant, instead the week is split so that one team of mechanics work the first half, the other team the second half of the week.

Between the cost cut on the lack of rent for the two closed premises and the cut working week, Joe is back in profit for the time being. His employees are not overjoyed about the shortened week, but prefer it to being unemployed and Joe has assured them he will pay flat rate overtime when the work load justifies it.

Mistakes in this situation are not just a loss of opportunity, but a possible crippling blow, so every decision should be supported with as much information as possible.  Business   Intelligence  can make the difference between flourishing and floundering.

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Business Intelligence – Secret Weapon to Successful Business

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Unlock your company’s most valuable resource with Business Intelligence.

Remember IT? Information Technology? It seems many businesses forgot that the computer age was supposed to be about information and efficiency.

Instead, the entire computer industry became about the collection of data for its own sake.

In recent years the concept of Business Intelligence (BI) has evolved, and as a result, many managers have been reminded why they were collecting all of this data in the first place.

As a manager, you should be able to ask any question about your company operations and be provided with a clear answer from the information held on your computer systems:

* Seasonal sales figures

* Bulk buying trends

* Geographical spread of customers

* Staff efficiency and performance

* Advertising campaign effectiveness

* And any other process analytics

If you cannot, you are making decisions in the dark.

Business Intelligence is the torch that can light the way.

Back in the mid 90’s Joe’s Garage installed a computerised records system. This was nothing flash a stand alone PC installed with some basic business software, which came free with a magazine, and records customer details, sales and stock.

Joe has been dutifully entering every customer and transaction for fifteen years.

Big Companies use Business Intelligence

While the world’s largest organisations have invested heavily in Business Intelligence, and are busy reaping the rewards, the majority of businesses are reminiscent of pirates burying hoarded treasure and never spending it, and in some cases, forgetting that it is there at all.

You already sort of use Business Intelligence

Most companies gain benefit from the tiniest amount of BI which exists by default within their business software process analytics.

Something as simple as checking a customer’s payment history before agreeing credit is an example of BI at work.

Unfortunately, extracting more complex information is beyond the capabilities of most business software.

Joe only uses his customers’ contact details when he needs to inform them when their required parts have been delivered.

One day, Joe buys a pallet of oil at a bargain price and realises he can offer cheap oil changes.

Unfortunately, his computer system cannot provide him with a list of customers who have not purchased an oil change in the past year.

Databases, the Hidden Treasure

For each of the little clues that your current business software imparts, there is a wealth of hidden treasure buried deep in your data records.

Do a large percentage of your customers always buy a particular add-on purchase with their main order? And the customers who don’t – are they aware that this add-on is available?

Does your current software answer this question?

The answer to these questions (and many more) can be found in the information already stored in your company database, and extracting these answers is the heart of Business Intelligence.

I have worked as a BI specialist for over a decade, and on every, EVERY, assignment I have undertaken I find managers surprised by the wealth knowledge they have collected through the course of normal business, and how interrogating this information can move their business in a positive direction.

Undeterred, Joe spends all of his evenings and two weekends manually looking through each record on his database.

By the end of this tedious process, he has a list of thirty customers who have not changed their oil in twelve months or more.

However, as Joe was scouring the last few records, he identifies another pattern – an oil top-up is included as standard in every car service. He realises that offering free oil top up could entice more profitable work into his garage and, if advertised, could also attract new customers.

To find out which customers to target, Joe must begin his manual search again.

Unlocking the Treasure Chest

The basic premise of Business Intelligence is to utilise a range of reports to access the company database and then analyse the available data in order to provide clear and concise information which meets the decision maker’s requirements.

Most business applications, whether off the shelf or bespoke, have a basic set of reports included. These vary in usefulness from package to package, and a comprehensive set of reports for one business maybe completely useless to another.

These reports are usually developed by a general programmer with no BI expertise and certainly no knowledge of your business or the process analytics you require.

To make up for this short fall in reporting accuracy, some products offer a limited set of tools which allow data to be extracted into a spreadsheet.

However, this only produces a boundless mixed up mass of data to be picked through, in an alternative format. Spreadsheets do have a raft of helpful tools, but are the wrong application for this job and can make even the simplest of tasks very time consuming and prone to error.

Obviously the ideal way to access your valuable data resource is to create reports which group data together in common ways and compare various results.

This can be anything from seasonal sales figures for a particular product to identifying the most efficient person in a call centre. During my BI career I have worked on projects to optimise performance and streamline processes for everything from selling paint to counter-terrorism.

Knowing What to Look For

Although Business Intelligence is a skill in itself with its own experts, your company’s biggest asset is its own managers and staff. This fact is often overlooked, and is the reason why a lot of BI implementations fail, as external experts build a library of information which they alone have determined the requirement for. The end result is an elegant suite of Business Intelligence reports which do not answer any of the pertinent questions being asked by the management.

Having an accurate description of the goals and desired outcomes for each project is a crucial factor.

These not only vary from organisation to organisation, but are also dependent on the wider circumstances.

For example, identifying the most successful sales rep for bonuses during good times is an entirely different proposition to identifying the least productive sales rep during a lengthy period of slow trade.

Once you have an idea of what you need, the next step is to ensure that your business has been recording the data on which to base this decision, and identify whether the information has been recorded accurately and consistently.

This can be an involved job in itself, but any good BI consultancy will offer this as a separate evaluation as one of their base services.

Despite Joe’s limited funds, he decides to invest in a BI expert for a week’s work to obtain a prescribed list of information which he feels he can quickly profit from.

The BI expert does his job well – he takes care to communicate in a consistent exchange with Joe, provides exactly what is required, and even proposes some additional ideas based on some of his past experience.

Joe sells some oil at a discount price, but after looking at the result of the BI reports, it is apparent that his idea to offer the oil as a free gift alongside other services will be a far more cost affective use of the oil.

How to Make the Most of BI

Even for companies with a high IT skill level, it is often beneficial to hire a BI expert for at least some of the implementation.

A good BI consultancy will offer guidance every step of the way and not just try to sell consulting hours or software before knowing exactly what it is your business requires.

Purchasing a two day consultancy to ensure feasibility and identify the various options available is a worthwhile move which lays a solid starting point for both parties.

To those new to Business Intelligence it may seem like a huge task to implement a system like this from scratch. However, there is a solid advantage to having a fresh start with a clear vision – too many of the implementations I have been involved with have had to cater to previous versions of BI which were more trouble than they were worth.

Also, many BI implementations are huge and sprawling, attempting to cover entire companies in one swipe. Bigger BI implementations can lose focus and produce process analytics for their own sake without a clear business requirement.

Far better results are achieved if implementations are split into small, well focused projects. Splitting work by department is good, implementing one logical BI area at a time is even better. Obtaining details for a focused advertising campaign is a good start to examining what BI has to offer, as is implementing a staff rewards scheme based on an accurately measured set of performance attributes.

Keeping the area of interest small initially is a good way to demonstrate the positive impact that BI can have on any organisation.

With the extra income generated from the BI guided oil sales / offers, purchases some more oil and rehires the BI expert to produce a report to be run daily. This report takes the form of a letter offering a free oil top up addressed to all customers whose cars are due for service within the next two week period.

Times are rough financially, and Joe’s focused advertising has a high take-up rate as people search for bargains. This provides a steady stream of extra income at a time when other garages in the area are struggling.

Joe has also started to wonder about lost customers, and so requests a report to highlight all customers who have not visited his garage in over two years, what was the last job done for each, the time taken to carry out the job and the average time taken for each type of job.

The results shock Joe as it is now apparent that the wheel balancing jobs done by his apprentice Steve take twice as long as they should and are apparently responsible for 70% of the lost customers.

Joe responds by sending Steve on a two day wheel balancing course and sends out letters to these lapsed customers offering 10% off any other service they take with his garage within the month.

Business Intelligence is a great tool for aiding decisions and evaluating effectiveness of advertising, new working practices and staff performance. Utilising just a small part of the broad spectrum of advantages BI has to offer can revolutionise your company.

Can you afford not to have BI working for you?

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Elements Of Business Intelligence Solutions

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Information is the most valuable asset of any organization and thus has to be carefully managed, organized and stored, facilitating easy access on demand from an appropriately authorized person. Business intelligence systems are used to solve this problem. BI systems are essential to ensuring the smooth, uninterrupted flow of information within any level of an organization without compromising on security. These BI systems have to make available data on time to ensure that the correct decision can be made at the right time based on the information provided.

BI systems are used primarily to improve timeliness of information required by the organization, to provide information in business terminology, to give access to any information no matter where it is stored. For this reason, a BI system should greatly reduce distribution costs of the information and its handling time. BI systems have to improve forecasting and planning efforts and should allow business changes to be tracked, recorded, and responded to quickly, thereby helping steer the organization towards its goals.

What To Look For In Business Intelligence Systems

The elements of business intelligence solutions have to be considered carefully, and the system chosen has to be consistent. No matter how much new data is added and what new systems (such as ECM or CRM) are added, no matter what major changes occur, BI systems have to stay put and guide the company.

The way new data is integrated with existing BI systems is one element of the BI solution. Data warehouses can be created but consume time, energy and money. Data marts can be used to develop data warehouses later. Creating data marts requires less time, energy, and money. No matter which system is used, make sure a single version for truth of data exists within the organization.

BI systems need appropriate analytical tools, too, to help utilize all information gathered so laboriously. The first step is to categorize all data that is collected. This involves the data extraction, transformation, and cleansing processes. By using appropriate tools, you can face and solve the problems and restore order.

The next step is to have proper analytical tools to help analyze all data stored to help make decisions. If tools are used to do the analysis, the users have to learn how to use the tools and how to navigate through the systems. A server-centric approach for storing all BI data is recommended.

Selecting the right tools is essential for any BI system to be effective in producing accurate results. Three such tool categories are traditional query and reporting, OLAP, and data mining tools. These tools should handle time and data options well without being too hard to use.

All the elements of Business Intelligence solutions have to be carefully considered and the needs of the organization determined before buying a BI system.

There are firms that offer services as well as products to help run a successful business.

The Impact Of Business Intelligence

The impact of business intelligence is far-reaching. Its influence can be felt in every aspect of the business. The IT department of the organization, the non-technical end-users, external users, the business analysts, and the enterprise are all influenced greatly by Business Intelligence.

Impact Of BI On The IT Department

It is essential that the IT department be consulted while selecting the right BI system. Workers in this department have to intelligently, in an orderly fashion evaluate the BI needs, and select an appropriate tool. While selecting a BI system, they will have to take into consideration the platforms supported by the system, the databases and files supported, its integration with the existing IT infrastructure, the connectivity options, backup and recovery options, and the end user functions, among other criteria. Organizations have to realize the important role the IT department plays in the success of any BI system. For BI systems to have a marked effect, active IT department involvement is necessary.

Impact Of BI on Non-Tech End Users

The impact of BI on non-tech end users can be huge. BI systems have helped non-tech users uncover massive frauds using data mining. They will have to spend a lot of time in learning to use the tools effectively. The BI system has to be user-friendly so that even non-tech users can learn to use it and steer the company toward success by allowing those users to make informed decisions. The selected system must enable them to make the right decision by analyzing the sales, marketing, and financial issues. BI systems, therefore, have a very profound impact on the end users.

Impact Of BI On Business Analysts

Business analysts are also considered while selecting a good BI system. They are concerned with the broadness of the functions of the BI system and the analysis capabilities of that system. These are the users who will be able to use the BI system in producing solutions that can greatly affect the business.

Impact Of BI on External Users

The BI system affects the extranet environment of the organization greatly. Security is a very important aspect to be concerned about while dealing with external users. The BI system should preserve data accuracy and integrity. Make sure you are aware of your external users requirements and that the BI system meets their needs.

Thus, the impact of business intelligence can be felt on every aspect of the business. There is a growing need to come up with a great BI system that will be able to deal with the entire enterprise as a whole. The BI system has to integrate with the existing IT infrastructure. It should ensure that users get a consistent flow of accurate and current decisions to help make informed decisions. BI systems are essential to analyze and evaluate processes and to help make changes to guide a company toward success.

There are firms that offer services as well as products to help run businesses successfully.

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Spreading Business Intelligence in 2010 and Beyond

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It’s a new year, a new decade, and in a previously shaky but hopefully on-the-mend economic climate, businesses and organizations in every industry are finding themselves more pressed to find a competitive edge within their markets in order to not only succeed, but simply survive. New times bring new realities, and thus, new business models and concepts. Business Intelligence, or BI, is one such concept. In 1989 Howard Dresner (later a GartnerGroup analyst) proposed this umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems.” The term was not popularized until almost ten years later. Its usage is now widespread, but still in its infancy as far as implementation.

Business intelligence, defined in other words, is the set of processes, skills, technologies, practices and applications used to support decision-making within a corporate or industrial framework. Prudent executives familiar with this relatively new concept are, more and more, implementing projects to leverage the kind of usable information that supports better decision-making in their own corporations and industries.

Also referred to as competitive intelligence, BI is one model executives and managers can use to help them strategize after they have gathered information – in ways that are ethical and legal – from the external business environment (i.e., analyzing the competition) and converted that information into usable intelligence to help them raise their own competitive standards. It’s important to recognize, however, that competitive intelligence is about more than just analyzing competitors, it’s about channeling data-gathering efforts toward the end goal of making the organization more competitive relative to its environment.

Business or competitive intelligence projects can take many forms. Some of these projects might include the implementation of industry-specific analytic applications delivered via software with business intelligence capabilities. According to a paper entitled “Gartner Reveals Five Business Intelligence Predictions for 2009 and Beyond,” by 2012, business units will control at least 40% of their total budget for business intelligence. Other BI projects might include implementing events like summits and conferences to encourage the spread of information and the enforcement of data access for the entire organization.

The following are just a few critical factors needed for the successful implementation of a business intelligence system: a clear vision & planning, committed management support & sponsorship, business driven methodology & project management, data management & quality issues, performance considerations, mapping the solutions to user requirements, robust & extensible framework, brain-storming and information gathering. A business event such as those coordinated by corporate hospitality and production specialists is one such medium which can be highly conducive to the dispersion of such knowledge throughout the ranks of an organization.

According to the same Gartner paper previously referenced, through 2012, more than 35% of the top 5,000 global companies will regularly fail to make insightful decisions about significant changes in their business and markets, simply because of lack of information, processes, and tools. First, companies must appoint “enterprise architects” to head up intelligence gathering and analytic efforts. Then, it’s up to decision-makers to form strategies based on this information, ultimately dispersing them through appropriate channels via business events and gatherings.

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Agile Business Intelligence Adoption

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Generally speaking the term “business intelligence” encompasses a host of business related software and tools. Businesses use these tools to organize and manipulate data from a variety of sources. Organizing the data can take the form of data mining, analytical processing, and or, querying and reporting. Agile business intelligence is a new wave of methodology in the field of business intelligence. Agile BI uses new technologies which make this recent evolution on traditional BI more flexible and more manageable. Data organized on spreadsheets has long been the system businesses use to organize, reconcile, and communicate information to clients and between teams or team members. Agile BI methods are much more helpful to the user than the spreadsheets with which most individuals are already familiar. Agile BI is focused on freeing businesses to identify areas of concern, consider solutions, and quickly respond to any questions raised during any part of this process.

An established system for BI will probably include benchmarks regarding how the processes of database storage and data warehousing are being executed. Applying the same set of standard expectations to an Agile business intelligence system is simply not as straightforward. That being said, it is important to understand how Agile BI can be implemented by a company.

The current business environment requires that businesses maintain immediate access to a tremendous amount of data for the purpose of swiftly making important decisions from the most informed position possible. Businesses large and small are demanding a significantly broader framework for the development of solutions based on all available data. The outright hunger for information and for varied applications drives the migration from traditional BI structures to one of the new Agile Business Intelligence systems. With increased data variety, businesses are asking more specialized questions at a rate never before seen in our new global economy.

Collective, communal applications, which is at the heart of Agile business intelligence (along with flexibility) are molding the new crop of BI analysts, as well as steering the industry toward more interactive and complex processes on the road to custom solutions for any business. Traditional BI methodology fails where Agile BI is proving successful. Agile business intelligence incorporates constant change on a number of different levels in the data storage, warehousing, and integration enterprise. BI teams are leaving behind the presuppositions that initially inspired the long-standing, inflexible solutions in favor of a new paradigm which includes cutting edge technology. Agile BI seeks to help businesses out compete and dominate their market regardless of their particular industry. Now that businesses are asking innovative questions and squeezing every ounce of utility out of every bit of data, Agile business intelligence solutions are replacing the support systems which can no longer keep up with the incredible pace of change of industry today.

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Beginners’ Guide to Business Intelligence Tools

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What is Business Intelligence and what is the utility of BI Tools?

Business Intelligence (BI) is defined as any real-time, current or past information that helps various business professionals including managers analyze current/past activities to help in predicting future course of the company’s business. Business Intelligence is thus a stream of data and hence it requires sorting as well as analysis before it is suitable for use in a company’s decision-making process. Such sorting and analysis of relevant data is usually carried out by software solutions, to ensure superior speed and accuracy of the data collection and analysis procedure. Any and all software solutions aiding the process of generating Business Intelligence for an enterprise are termed as Business Intelligence Tools. So BI data can help an enterprise rapidly adjust to changing business environment, while BI tools ensure that the changing business environment is rapidly as well as correctly identified and reported to facilitate a streamlined decision-making process. In case of historic data, BI tools usually sort and analyze data, which was previously stored in the enterprise database.

Commonly Used Business Intelligence Tools

BI tools are commonly classified into the following categories:

• Local Information Systems

• Business Performance Management

• Process Mining

• Dashboards

• Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)

• Data Warehousing

• Data Mining

• Reporting and Querying Software

• Spreadsheets

Most of these Business Intelligence technology and tools apart from spreadsheets are available as part of software suitable for a specific industry, standalone solutions, ERP system components or as a BI software suite. These solutions are often developed by a custom development company in response to requirements specified by a client or detected after a thorough analysis of the company’s business model. A few open-source business intelligence tools are also available, however most enterprises prefer to use proprietary business intelligence technology to ensure adequate protection of critical data. The type of business intelligence architecture implemented by an organization varies on the industry, market conditions as well as specific market requirements. Some of the commonly available BI tool categories are described here:

Local Information Systems

The term Local Information System (LIS) originated from its use in the public sector of the UK; other terms used synonymously with LIS in different parts of the world include – Data Observatory and Community information systems. In the global business intelligence technology market, LIS applications are usually limited to providing support for geographic reporting of enterprise operations. The functions supported by LIS tools often overlap with some of the features of Geographic Information Systems and Knowledge Management tools. Unique functions of LIS include providing a region-specific database accessible by citizens, policy makers, managers as well as data experts. LIS statistics are usually compiled with respect to a small area such as the National Neighborhood Statistics projects in the UK. Currently operating Local Information Systems include the DarlingtonLIS, UK; Newcastle Council; New Zealand Ministry of Health and Fife Council, UK.

Business Performance Management

Business Performance Management (BPM) refers to a set of management as well as analytical processes designed to facilitate improvement of a company’s processes in accordance with the preset goals of the organization. Such tools are capable of handling large amounts of data and help managers in determining fruitful interventions designed to improve the functioning of specific business processes. Currently available tools for BPM are based on the balanced scorecard framework and queries supported by BPM tools include metric-related queries, customer/stakeholder queries, goal-alignment queries, cost/risk queries as well as much more.

Process Mining

Process Mining is commonly defined as a process management technique which allows decision-makers to analyze business processes on the basis of available event logs. These event logs are automatically generated by the enterprise event system and the aim of Process Mining is to facilitate improvement of overall performance by providing tools and techniques designed to identify social, organizational, control and process structures by using the event logs. The technique is preferred if other conventional techniques fail of provide adequate insight into an enterprise process. Process Mining features in certain contemporary management techniques such as Business Process Intelligence, Business Operations Management and Business Activity Monitoring. Current Process Mining techniques are classified into the following categories: extension, conformation analysis and discovery.

Dashboards

Dashboards are defined as an easily read, real-time interface, which provides a snapshot of the current status of key business processes as a chart or graph. Dashboards are one of the most prolific and widely used tools for supporting informed and instantaneous decision making. Dashboards are capable of displaying a wide variety of user-defined key performance indicators significant for different departments of an organization. A production dashboard can display the total number of units produced, the average rate of production per hours, number of produced units which failed inspection during a one month period and so on. The key benefit of a dashboard is its capability to be customized to show only the relevant data, which results in significant time savings during the process of decision making. Currently available dashboards are commonly classified into three categories- desktop widgets, web-based applications as well as standalone solutions, which feature spark lines, bullet graphs, pie charts and/or bar charts to represent the data. Dashboards are also capable of being integrated into mobile business intelligence solutions to ensure seamless connectivity irrespective of the user’s location.

Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)

OLAP tools are designed to help users interactively analyze multidimensional data from multiple perspectives. OLAP as a business intelligence method includes various aspects of data mining and rational reporting. The term Online Analytical Processing is a derivative of OLTP (Online Transaction Processing), which is used in reference to traditional databases. Key analytical operations performed by these tools are- consolidation, drill-down and slice ‘n’ dice. The consolidation process refers to the aggregation of data to enable its analysis on multiple dimensions. The drill-down technique enables users to navigate through large quantities on data to sort out the relevant data. The slice ‘n’ dice technique allows users to remove (slice) a particular data set to allow closer inspection (dicing) of the selected data set. Databases with OLAP support utilize a multidimensional data model for supporting rapid execution of both ad-hoc as well as complex analytical queries.

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What Exactly is Business Intelligence?

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OLAP is that piece of the tool set that provides Dimensional Analysis, enabling huge volumes of data to be efficiently made available for exploration in a large variety of formats and arrangements.

The repository of high-volume data and the special methods for designing its storage was given the title of “Data Warehousing” (DW). Within the DW, a representation technique called “Dimensional Modeling” evolved, which is aimed at economic, context-based access (querying) of the immense tables held in the DW database.

Once the data has been captured and arranged in this way, through a process known as “Extract, Transformation and Load” (ETL), it can be passed through a further stage of processing that generates a “Cube”.

The Cube, in this context is actually another highly optimized form of storage in which the Dimensionally Modelled data can be pre-aggregated and cross-mapped for efficient retrieval and presentation to the user, who can enjoy parsing data at many levels of summarization moving quickly between almost limitless varieties of analysis.

Activities such as setting up multi-dimensional charts of data summary (known as “slicing and dicing”) or moving to lower levels of detail and back again to highly summarized versions (known as drill-down and drill-up), using tools to create graphical representations of the Cube data, with a great many formats from which to choose.

Employing yet other tools to perform sophisticated analyses, whereby trends and anomalies buried deep in the data may be discovered, understood and exploited (a technique called “Data Mining”). Data Mining models are created and refined to become sensitive to and resonant with the data patterns and can themselves be used to generate forecasts of future trends and movements within the tracked data. A veritable gold mine of such gems lies hidden and largely unexplored in the “exploding” mountains of data that have accumulated in companies since the price of storage came tumbling down.

It seems that IT organizations have been hanging onto data, keeping it in cold-storage, knowing that there will come a time when it will be of benefit. This is analogous to the hopefuls who upon departing this world, have their brain frozen, awaiting the emergence of technologies that can bring it back to life, perhaps with an artificial body.  Business   Intelligence  is the technology that allows companies to unfreeze their data assets, bringing them back to a much more useful life than before. A New Era for Information Usage?

Early in the eighteenth century, inventors were making new discoveries about heat, energy and motion. There quickly evolved coal-fired, steam-driven locomotion (railways) and pumping engines (for the mines) and giant power plants for making every machine in a factory turn and churn incessantly. Spinning cotton, weaving cloth, cutting and shaping iron and then steel. The Industrial Revolution was born. Mills and factories sprung up all across the coal-rich fields of Northern England (this writer’s birthplace – although a little later).

From their long heritage of back-breaking land work, people seeking to earn a regular (monetary) income flocked to grasp the many new (but equally back-breaking) factory jobs that emanated from the urban sprawl of gleaming red-bricked labyrinths, that housed these awesome machines. Industrial empires were spawning all over and wealthy (already) magnates-to-be, stepped up to invest, build and rule over them.

What did they think of  Business   Intelligence ? Of course, it seems unlikely that the term would ever have been uttered back then but, business empires had to managed somehow. If you could see those monolithic structures and enjoy the experience of visiting them, still churning and clunking, you may notice that almost every square foot of factory space was given over to production or storage of raw materials and finished goods. No room for desks and filing cabinets and, of course, no information technology; not even a telephone!

In one corner of the giant mill, you will see a well appointed office (where the owner would be found most of the time) and one or two nearby, less auspicious areas, being the workplaces of a couple of clerks, whose job was to record all the transactions of the business. Keepers of great leather-bound volumes of hand-written fiscal matters, committed to parchment but rarely revisited. So where was the “Decision Support System”? Where were the “Executive Information Systems” and “Balanced Score Cards”?

It was all there; all that was needed in those horse-drawn days, where real business took place between the various well-heeled mill owners over a mug of coffee or a mulled ale at some local tavern, gentlemen’s club or city-based mercantile gathering hall. The mill owner was kept informed of the production issues, inside his work-house, by visits from the foreman and kept his business knowledge up to scratch by his time spent over the tablecloths of his privileged meeting places.  Intelligence  was handled by “word of mouth”. Business deals were a handshake, followed by a letter, days or weeks later.

After the initial gold rush of mechanization, little changed for a long time; at least in terms of administration methods. Only after a slow but gradual increase in the number of non-production workers and the (mostly) record-keeping tasks they performed, would another unannounced “giant leap forward” occur, to irreversibly revamp the business scene once again.

Hail, Data Processing Due to regulatory requirements, statutory accounting practices and other external demands, together with a burgeoning management’s appetite for information, the ever-growing office spaces were becoming jammed with bursting-at-the- seems filing cabinets, filled with all manner of records of the company’s actions, transactions and anything else that mattered. All typed-in-triplicate, carbon-copied and filed in strict order (ready to be retrieved and hand-altered or joined by an extension or superseding entry.

Hot, clattering, manufacturing machinery had ushered in the Industrial Age and hot, clattering data processing machinery would now usher in the Information Age. Tabulators, card punches, paper-tape punches and prattling line printers were among the first commercially successful data processing machines. Rapidly progressing into electronic mainframe computers, humming, or even whistling musically (but still quite hot) and requiring huge rooms for their banks of hand-threaded core-memories (as much as 8 Kilobytes per cabinet), and looms of backplane wiring to connect central processor’s thousands of discreet components, soldered to hundreds of Bakelite circuit boards.

Strangely, this great revolution of number-crunching, heat-belching behemoths did little to shake up the world of business. Large corporations would quickly shell out millions for their first pride-and-joy, accompanied by the odd educational institution, here and there. However, vast swathes of less well endowed organizations held back, presumably seeing no threat of extinction as the consequence of not joining in the party for the second great era of industrialization.

Well maybe it is not so strange. The astute leaders of small to medium sized businesses (SMB’s) not known for “leaping before they look”, should be expected to play wall-flower, at least until the proposition looks sound, justifiable and absolutely necessary for survival. Today though, a mere sixty years on, it is hard to find any kind of business, of any shape, size or ethical standing, that does not have heavenly amounts of computing power, at every fingertip.

Bigger, faster, cheaper, more. So the years went by at the “speed of thought”, everyone got onboard and computer systems became as common in the workplace as steam-pipe

leaks, machinery-induced deafness and finger blisters had become in the cotton mill.

Actually, the “Technology” part of “Information Technology” (the “T” in IT) has come an incredibly long way since the days of machines peering through holes in cardboard (which, incidentally, was first conceived of by Industrial Revolution luminary, Jacquard, the inventor of the all-important weaving loom that bears his name).

Some software of today is also astronomically more advanced than that of the mid-twentieth century. Lamentably, it is, however, the “I” in IT that has not kept pace with the advances of electronics and related cost-performance ratios.

With some exceptions, corporate use of computers has essentially become locked into the business of record keeping; frozen solid in the first great ice-age of non-progressive wheel-spinning, running faster to stand still, quagmire, where huge budgets evaporate, just trying to keep up with the avalanche of necessary upgrades and replacements.

Is that the Cavalry I hear?

Having painted a grim picture of stagnation and nil return on investment, we have paved the way for the trumpeters and knights in shining armor. So the cost of storage has come down dramatically, the data we are holding there has ballooned dramatically, now must be the time to do something with it, dramatically.

Instead of just “record keeping”, let’s use all this computing power and endless data in ways that can make us better at what we do. How about introducing software that performs large-scale, sophisticated analysis. How about using that sophisticated analysis to help us make better decisions. How about using improved decision making to choose a better direction to go in and better direction to improve marketing efforts, customer experience, product investment, vendor selection, volume prediction, price setting, etc.

Let’s just call this whole new leap forward “ Business   Intelligence “.

Get more intelligent about business by seeing more clearly what we have done and what has been happening around us; by predicting where trends are heading and do all this by exploiting data we already have, tools we already own and brains that have not yet been put into deep freeze.

This all sounds good. Lets get started, “as soon as the movement hits critical mass”.

IS there anyone out there already using BI?

When the first great era of commercial computing began, there were early adopters and late adopters. The early adopters paid for all the R&D (as usual) and the tail-draggers paid with loss of market-share, employee job satisfaction and investor confidence. Well, not really; business and consumers were not so hurried, cost conscious or quick to change horses back then.

Today is a different story, however. Deals are canceled at contract signing, shoppers abandon their carts at the check-out, construction is halted on the first foreclosure and stock market indicators have not seen a flat line in years. Panic is the normal state-of-rest.

Businesses sink quickly and everyone is hoping that the next object that floats by will have an outboard motor, wings and booster rockets attached. One such vehicle is that broad set of capabilities currently flying under the banner of  Business   Intelligence .

Many companies have made a leap of faith and invested in a BI initiative. For some of those entities, valuable gains have been achieved. For others, the project has been fruitless, hard lessons learned and second attempts made from a different approach.

Compared to the early data processing efforts, today’s BI ventures are light years more advanced and equally more challenging. The potential for success is there for all qualified entrants and many have proved the point. Eventually, the deployment of BI will be as ubiquitous as the first generation of applications.

Just as every organization has implemented “passive” record-keeping applications of some sort or another, there will be a time when most will also have “active”, even “thinking” intelligent software that examines data, sniffs out issues, evaluates propositions, recommends actions and monitors results. If you detect a difference in those two scenarios, you are understanding the meaning of  Business   Intelligence .

There was a time when computers were depicted in entertainment media as futuristic and the stuff of science fiction. Now we can smile at all of that and, yes, there are differences between what novelists and screenwriters created and the more mundane, however clever, computers that support every aspect of our lives today.

Don’t forget, however, that the likes of HAL, C3P0 and R2D2 are seen in laboratories where artificial  intelligence  and other far-out technologies are constantly making progress. In our business world, we are not looking to replace people with thinking software, but with BI we can get people thinking better (with software).

BI may not be required or mandated for every type of organization; nor is it for the faint-of-heart; nor is it for the uninitiated (i.e. Those not understanding the issues). The separate MeasureGroup™ publication “Who needs BI?” can help an organization decide if it should, or should not, be looking at a BI initiative.

A summary of  Business   Intelligence 

The following panel contains a summary of  Business   Intelligence  in the form of a bullet list of the most significant attributes generally being assigned to this new but not-so-new technology that is going to be recognized one day as the “second great era of computing in  business “.

Summary of the key aspects of  Business   Intelligence :

– Leveraging Data Assets to glean Insights otherwise unavailable

– Exploring Business Analytics in an almost endless variety of ways

– Gaining Competitive Advantage thru the Power of Knowledge

– Seizing Opportunities to improve Status and Profitability

– Enhancing Business Agility – First to Start – First to Finish

– Using Intelligent Questions to generate Intelligent Answers to generate Intelligent Questions…

– Enabling Proactive Management to replace Reactive Damage Control

In the early days of computers, many did not see a use for them. That was because they did not yet understand their capabilities. BI is at that same point now. BI is being enabled by a new set of software tools and technologies that are continuing to evolve.

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