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Fuelling the Engine
The importance of business intelligence and performance management to the mid-market
By: Quocirca
Published: July 2009
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Across the mid-market, inefficiencies are compounded by the lack of visibility into pertinent data, of processes being adequately and flexibly automated, and for the performance of the business to be monitored on a constant basis. Without such capabilities, businesses will find it difficult to survive the current financial conditions - yet creating an environment where information can be easily aggregated and viewed has never been easier. Also, business performance can be easily monitored with small proactive, and even reactive, actions ensuring effective responses to market forces and enabling organisations to compete with local and more global business threats.

The research underpinning this report shows that mid-market organisations are struggling to deal with the growth and complexity of the data in their organisations, and with the processes required to maximise how such informational assets offer improved opportunities and speed of response in the market. Small changes in the use of business intelligence and performance management could give short, medium and long-term benefits.

  • Mid-market organisations are struggling with their data assets The majority of respondents have to deal with multiple data sources, along with large amounts of data held in spreadsheets, often being stored locally to, or on, a user's PC. Dealing with such data is seen as being a major problem.
  • Many respondents report that they have little faith in the data they use in making decisions With data being spread around the organisation, and with little in the way of adequate tooling to aggregate and report on it, users are left with information that they do not feel they can trust. Therefore, decision making is severely compromised, with decisions being made on a "best guess" basis - often needing to be underpinned by "gut feel".
  • Many organisations are dependent on the use of email or other inefficient collaborative systems for the sharing of data and information Even though 41% of respondents used dedicated or formalised means of sharing data, 24% predominantly used email to share data and information among users. The use of email as a data and information sharing platform cannot be condoned. Even managed email results in massive redundancy of data and in problems in identifying the current version of a data set. When looking at mission-critical or business-important data and information, it is a necessity to look to more formal systems that provide underlying workflow and security systems.
  • Few respondents see the value chain as an area for sharing information Many respondents either discourage or actively prevent employees from sharing data with suppliers and customers, and even those that do allow it tend to be reactive, only providing data when asked. Opening up the secure sharing of relevant data in real time with suppliers and customers can provide financial benefits, as well as affording major advantages in terms of how well an organisation can respond to the market.
  • The mid-market has a lot of manual processes - and many of these have been unchanged for a long time Few respondents had fully automated their business processes, with a significant number being dependent on fully manual processes that had remained unchanged for some time. By moving to full automation, scarce resources can be freed up to deal with exceptions, the business can be far more effective in dealing with its value chain, and profitability can be massively improved.
  • Perceptions of business intelligence (BI) are reasonable, but perceptions of performance management (PM) are not well aligned The majority of respondents see business intelligence as offering a means of reporting on what a business is doing, with a third seeing this as being at historic, present and forecast levels. However, a similar number see it as being only for predicting future states, with a quarter seeing it as being only for reporting the current state only. However, perceptions of performance management revolve around how well human resources are performing - rather than on how well the business is performing.

Conclusions

The research shows that the mid-market needs to look to technology for managing its data assets more effectively. The lack of trust in the data decision makers are using, and the lack of process flexibility, point to the mid-market underperforming significantly against its capabilities. The use of a BI/PM system that enables disparate data sources to be aggregated and reported on, combined with underpinning collaborative capabilities and formal workflows, will provide the foundation for greater flexibility, better responsiveness to market conditions, and opportunities for greater revenues and improved margins in a complex and highly dynamic environment.

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