Why Midsize Companies Need Business Intelligence Solutions in this uncertain global economy


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Learn how midsize companies are putting in place a business intelligence information infrastructure - making them more likely to adhere to their budgets and deadlines, concentrate on improving the overall business rather than just one department, and reward employees accordingly.

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Why Midsize Companies Need Business Intelligence Solutions in this uncertain global economy

  1. 1. SAP Thought Leadership business intelligence WHY MIDSIZE COMPANIES NEED BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE SOLUTIONS in this uncertain global economy
  2. 2. Without a business intelligence information infrastructure in place, midsize companies are more likely to exceed budgets, miss deadlines, improve performance of one depart- ment at the expense of the overall business, and reward employees for actions that do not improve performance. ultimately, without bi, the current economic downturn poses greater risk to their business operations.
  3. 3. CONTENT 4 Executive Summary 5 The Hazards of Working Without BI 6 How BI Can Benefit Midsize Companies 8 broad tools and Functionality 8 What to look for in a bi solution 8 Flexible and robust Functiionality 8 simplicity is the Key 8 transparent access to Data and business applications 9 secure operations 9 low tco
  4. 4. EXECUTIVE SUMMArY in today’s economy, executives face these are all admirable goals. however, Without a bi information infrastructure declining revenues and tough cost- most midsize companies don’t have the in place, midsize companies are more cutting decisions. however, cost information infrastructure in place to likely to exceed budgets, miss dead- reductions alone are not enough to meet such requirements. Without a lines, improve performance of one survive in this market, especially for vital information infrastructure that is department at the expense of the midsize companies, which typically informed by business intelligence (bi), overall business, and reward employ- lack the expansive resources needed midsize organizations are in a precari- ees for actions that do not improve to sustain a market downturn, yet have ous spot. consider: performance. ultimately, without bi, the ability to be much more agile with • lacking insight to operational ineffi- the current economic downturn poses the right information. midsize organiza- ciencies, they take longer to identify greater risk to their business operations. tions require clear visibility into opera- and address issues that affect tions and processes, so they can performance this paper examines how midsize com- quickly capitalize on what works well, • lacking visibility across the enter- panies can tap into the strength of bi rapidly identify and address the issues prise, they have difficulty coordinating to reinforce what works in their organi- that degrade performance and efficien- activities across departments, zations, and position them to move cy, and optimize their use of resources. divisions, partners, and customers forward even as the economy falters. in addition, companies must base deci- • lacking depth of analysis, they sions on fact rather than guesswork. miss seeing abnormal variances Finally, they need to ensure greater and understanding root causes that alignment and accountability across all have material impact on earnings employees, so business performance • they tend to perform worse than is maximized within the allocated plans their peers in making the most of and budgets. their resources “Business intelligence has helped us create better controls and enabled managers to run their part of the opera- tions more effectively and efficiently.” FreshDirect 4 SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions
  5. 5. THE HAZArDS OF WOrKING WITHOUT BI bi is especially important for midsize companies, who typically do not have the vast resources of an industry giant but often have the agility to implement significant business decisions quickly. bi helps to ensure that those quick decisions are correct. since fact-based decisions are likely to enrich a company’s bottom-line, a midsize organization using bi to illuminate decision-making can gain significant competitive advantage – during good times, as well as during challenging economic times. “as companies brace themselves for a aligned with each other, as well as information infrastructure, often, recession, investing in business intelli- with the overall company strategy. by the time executives become gence (bi) software might well be their • Difficulty prioritizing – Without the aware of problems, the issues have best defense.”1 ability to calculate and determine the progressed to a full-blown firestorm. future impact of any problem that sur- • Inability to measure departmental the lack of a good information infra- faces, executives have limited ability performance – although executives structure at a midsize company is to prioritize. as a result, all problems, may set four or five performance visible through the following notable minor and major, get equal attention. metrics for each of their departments, hazards: • Inability to perform in-depth they have no clear, consistent, and • Multiple versions of the truth – analysis – managers lack a consis- efficient way to calculate and com- interdepartmental meetings can fre- tent, accurate, and quick way of pare performance across various quently turn into finger-pointing exer- quantifying facts, such as determin- periods; instead, obtaining such cises, as various spreadsheets used ing who are their most profitable information requires the accounting by individual managers use different customers, which products are losing department to crunch multiple assumptions and carry different data, money, and which business process- spreadsheets over the weekend. making it hard to make decisions. as es are inefficient. • Unable to locate important informa- a result, decisions often are made on • Not knowing where to concentrate tion – managers are told that certain instinct rather than fact. efforts – uncovering hidden issues, reports on product, process, and • Misaligned action across the identifying their scope, and determin- customer performance have been organization – information residing in ing their potential impact through posted to the company’s intranet, departmental silos cannot be easily what-if scenarios can enable execu- but they have no quick way of shared. this problem, combined with tives to address problems proactively, finding them. multiple versions of the truth, leads before they balloon out of control and to departmental initiatives not being hurt the business. yet without a good 1 sheina, madan. “business intelligence: a bull in a bear economy,” ovum, December 2008. SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions 5
  6. 6. HOW BI CAN BENEFIT MIDSIZE COMPANIES bi provides the tools that help Broad Tools and Functionality benefit summaries for each employee. organizations understand, analyze, in one scenario, a sales manager’s and even predict what’s occurring the bi spectrum is very broad in terms report shows monthly sales and asso- within their company. organizations of tools and functionality. at its core ciated sales commissions sorted by can use bi to turn data into useful and are enterprise reporting and ad hoc salesperson and then by customer. meaningful information, and then distrib- query and analysis. Data integration report distribution is controlled so ute this intelligence to those who need and data quality functionality comple- that each sales manager can only it, when they need it – so every employ- ments core reporting functionality by see entries for his or her salespeople. ee makes timely, better-informed deci- consolidating and validating data from report producers may choose to sions. using bi, organizations can multiple sources to ensure accurate, e-mail reports or place them on an combine data from a wide variety of consistent data. adding dashboards to internal Web site for viewing through sources to see an integrated, up-to- the mix, users can quickly visualize and a Web browser. date, 360-degree view of the business. understand key trends and issues within their environments. Packaged analytic ad hoc functionality puts the power of uniting operations and analysis, bi solutions may also include scorecards reporting in the hands of the individual. helps the entire organization make and performance management offer- For example, with ad hoc query func- better decisions. as a result, ings, for monitoring business metrics tionality, you can access your organiza- organizations are better positioned and key performance indicators (KPis). tion’s data, asking questions such as: to address the hazards listed above, common KPis include customer • What were my most profitable leading to improved visibility of the satisfaction, profitability, and sales sales to customer abc corporation business, correct alignment of action per employee. scorecards and last quarter? and strategy, and better resource performance management helps orga- • What is the current average salary utilization. bi is especially important nizations better align individual and of employees within band 3, and for midsize companies, who typically departmental metrics and efforts with how has it been trending? do not have the vast resources of an strategic goals. in addition, packaged • how much of part 123 do we have industry giant but often have the agility analytic applications include planning in inventory and what products use to implement significant business and budgeting functionality, as well as that part? decisions quickly. bi helps to ensure consolidation. that those quick decisions are correct. in addition to ad hoc functionally, most since fact-based decisions are likely enterprise or production reporting typi- query tools also include simple report- to enrich a company’s bottom-line, a cally involves high-volume, high-resolu- ing functionality. For example, they can midsize organization using bi to tion reports that are run on a regular be used to generate a simple report illuminate decision-making can gain basis. enterprise reports may be used that lists the accrued vacation of all significant competitive advantage – to generate, for example, customer employees, sorted and totaled by during good times, as well as during statements, invoices, or individualized department. challenging economic times. 6 SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions
  7. 7. bi also offers advanced analysis tech- When communicating complex opera- it has often been said, “if you can’t niques, enabling decision makers to tions data and business scenarios, a measure it, you can’t manage it.” view data across multiple classifica- picture is worth a thousand words – scorecards and other performance tions or dimensions (for example, prod- or, in this case, numbers. Dashboards management tools enable executives uct, customer, location, time-period, contain highly graphical techniques that to establish business metrics for their salesperson, and so on). they can then strongly complement query and report- teams, update and monitor results, slice-and-dice the data to look at vari- ing. using graphical gauges analogous and communicate results as appropriate ous combinations, such as viewing the to an automobile dashboard and so that minor problems can be identi- sales in each region for the previous symbols such as traffic lights, where fied early-on and corrective action marketing campaign, or determining red represents an alert condition and quickly taken. which products each customer pur- yellow a warning, executives, opera- chased last year. your organization tions gurus, financial analysts, and other could define hierarchies so that sales business users can quickly identify could first be viewed for each region. exception conditions. the user could then drill down to view the sales in each state or country in Figure 1: Use each region, and drill down further to Visual Models and view the sales of each store within Dashboards for Insight into Issues each state or country. such granularity and Opportunities make it easy to compare the results from one time period with another, so you could compare this month’s total sales of a product with the same month last year – while allowing the user to drill down and perform year-over-year comparisons at levels, such as by store, by customer, or by salesperson. Filtering features can be used to include or exclude specific stores, regions, products, salespeople, or time-periods in the analysis – and give you the ability to segment products, stores, or salespeople according to performance – best, worst, top 25, and so on. SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions 7
  8. 8. Dashboards are commonly used to dis- Flexible and robust Functionality easy to incorporate external information play performance metrics and allow your bi solution should allow you to into reports, while hiding the complexi- users to drill down from the visual create, manage, and deliver packaged ty of accessing multi-sourced image to view the underlying detail. reports; perform ad hoc reporting, que- information. When displaying information, dash- ry, and analysis; and deploy interactive boards may have to source data from dashboards. your solution should sup- transparent access to Data and several operational systems. Data inte- port a transition to fact-based decision business applications gration technology within bi systems making and help accelerate your com- Worldwide, many organizations contin- greatly simplifies the integration pro- pany’s growth and success. ue to use microsoft excel to analyze cess, helping to pull relevant informa- their business and microsoft Word to tion from various systems. simplicity is Key create documents. thus, they want to bi is not just about tools and their appli- your bi solution should make it easy for ensure that their bi solution can bring cations; it is also concerned with distri- you to create or modify packaged and the most current information from their bution and control. you should be able ad hoc reports, queries, and dash- transactional system into microsoft to publish reports to the Web and deliv- boards in order to obtain key operation- office applications on their laptops and er them to a user’s preferred mobile al and business insights from business desktops – and do it transparently. device, if appropriate. however, not applications. ease of use is essential such functionality can significantly every employee should have access to for any midsize company, since it enhance the productivity and effective- every report or analysis. hence, admin- resources are limited. Furthermore, ness of all business users. in addition, istration, monitoring, security, and con- information for certain analytics may organizations that have created portals trol are also part of the bi environment. reside in locations other than your for their employees want to ensure that saP® application, such as spread- any bi reports, queries, and dash- What to Look for in a BI Solution sheets, email systems or other data- boards can be easily accessed from bases. an efficient bi solution makes it such portals. effective bi solutions should contain the following functionality: • enterprise and operational reporting, the underlying technology within the packaged solution ad hoc analysis, and dashboards • Flexibility and ease of use, so you for midsize companies is designed to make it easy for busi- can augment and create reports and ness users to develop and use analytics without relying on dashboards, with little it support • access to information through micro- the it department. users have complete flexibility in how soft excel or microsoft Word, as well they access, format, and interact with their data. as Web portals • security controls for information access • low total cost of ownership (tco), while supporting growth into more sophisticated data quality and data warehousing needs • Visibility for the entire organization, whether through desktop deploy- ment, the Web, or mobile devices 8 SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions
  9. 9. secure operations low tco to hire expensive outside consultants. organizations also want to ensure that midsize companies have limited the bi solution also should have rele- sensitive data is only accessed by the resources, so an ideal bi solution will vant components embedded within the appropriate recipients. they need to ensure low cost of ownership through solution to reduce the need to buy able to specify which roles within the off-the-shelf integrations, and the use additional software. organization can see specific informa- of templates to simplify and accelerate tion within their bi solution. the creation of custom reports, que- ries, and dashboards without the need Figure 2: Access and Refresh Data “Companies now realize “Live” Within they can get more out of Microsoft Office the data assets they have collected. The growth is also a reflection of the fact that IT systems in the midmarket are quite mature.” Forrester research SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions 9
  10. 10. SAP BusinessObjects™ BI SOLUTIONS saP® businessobjects™ bi solutions the saP businessobjects solution and the saP netWeaver® business are designed and packaged to be gives you the flexibility to deliver Warehouse (saP netWeaver bW) affordable for any midmarket company. reports, either on demand or at a pre- component allows users to create ad With the saP businessobjects edge scheduled time, via e-mail, print, or by hoc reports, queries, and analytics on bi software, you can: saving to a shared directory on the top of saP transactional data. the • create, manage, and deliver standard server. the solution also supports an package is also designed to enable and ad hoc reports offline viewer, which allows users to business users to access data from • leverage ad hoc reporting, query, review reports when they are discon- non-saP sources, such as spread- and analysis features nected from the network, such as when sheets, real-time data feeds, log files, • Perform what-if analysis using inter- they are in client meetings or traveling or any oDbc/JDbc compliant data- active dashboards on business. as a result, users can base, while hiding the complexity of • Deploy complete data quality and always stay in touch with their business accessing such data. because the data mart solutions with minimal wherever they are. complexity is hidden, your business total cost of ownership users can create and access sophisti- • ensure secure, role-appropriate the underlying technology within the cated analytics without any it help. in access to data packaged solution for midsize compa- addition, the saP businessobjects nies is designed to make it easy for portfolio of solutions contains quick- through an intuitive point-and-click business users to develop and use bi start packs and a repository of compo- Web interface on top of a built-in online without relying on the it department. nents such as business views, graph- analytical processing (olaP) engine, users have complete flexibility in how ics, and formulas, all of which your business users can access the they access, format, and interact with accelerate the development of data they want and analyze it. With their data. out-of-the-box integration analytics. dashboards, they can interact with visu- with saP business all-in-one solutions al sliders and gauges to quickly identify new opportunities and challenges. they Figure 3: Query, can use what-if analysis to understand Report On, and the impact of decisions before they are Analyze Data Without Relying made. For existing saP customers, on IT comprehensive security features use the saP security model to ensure that users can only view and access the data they have the rights to access. With an saP businessobjects edge bi software solution that is integrated with microsoft office and microsoft share- Point, the information from your existing transactional systems can be viewed live, in real time, by the users within these solutions. thus, incorporating the most current data into presenta- tions, spreadsheets, and documents is simple. 10 SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions
  11. 11. OFFErING BI SOLUTIONS FOr MIDSIZE COMPANIES saP offers a leading bi solution for a critical criteria for budget-conscious midsize companies who seek to ensure midsize companies. “Most organizations equate greater alignment and accountability saP businessobjects solutions across their entire organization, so increase visibility into process and BI with information deliv- business performance is maximized product performance, improve organi- ery. However, the real within the allocated budgets. the solu- zational alignment, and enhance tion provides comprehensive bi fea- resource utilization. thus, midsize com- value of BI is much more tures, such as ad hoc query, reporting, panies are better positioned to respond than information dissemi- and analysis, out-of-the box integration to the tough economic environment. with microsoft office and microsoft We invite you to take a closer look at nation – it is strongly sharePoint, and ease of integration this solution by contacting your local linked to achieving busi- with portals and external sources of saP sales representative or by visiting data. the solution is specifically us at www.sap.com. ness goals and improving designed so end users can create and business performance.” modify reports, queries, and dash- boards without the need for expensive gartner third-party consultants. Finally, the solu- tion provides low cost of ownership – SAP Thought Leadership – Why midsize companies need business intelligence solutions 11
  12. 12. 50 094 399 (09/03) © 2009 by saP ag. all rights reserved. saP, r/3, saP netWeaver, Duet, Partneredge, byDesign, saP business byDesign, and other saP products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of saP ag in germany and other countries. business objects and the business objects logo, businessobjects, crystal reports, crystal Decisions, Web intelligence, Xcelsius, and other business objects products and services mentioned herein as well as their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of business objects s.a. in the united states and in other countries. business objects is an saP company. all other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies. Data contained in this document serves informational purposes only. national product specifications may vary. these materials are subject to change without notice. these materials are provided by saP ag and its affiliated companies (“saP group”) for informational purposes only, without representation or warranty of any kind, and saP group shall not be liable for errors or omissions with respect to the materials. the only warranties for saP group products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services, if any. nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. www.sap.com /contactsap