Category Archives: Social Enterprise

Teamwork and collaboration set to become BI hallmarks

The need for business intelligence solutions that go beyond the basics is pressing today, because simply using some form of this software is no longer a differentiator. Numerous companies have at least one type of analytics running, so mastering a vertical means building bigger and better business cases for BI. The plethora of advanced tech options available now can help break this impasse. Some organizations will gravitate toward advanced features that further their goals and achieve success this way, whether they're delving into their own data or collecting strong information from elsewhere and turning that into fuel for their latest analyses.

The value of collaboration
Organizations that collaborate with one another are well-positioned to succeed. This applies to the use of business intelligence, too, as different departments each have something to contribute. A recent Technology Spectator piece contributed by Alan Eldridge explained that collaborative thinking is on the march in the BI world. Tellingly, he cited research by Dresner which indicated that six in every 10 relevant professionals place collaboration and teamwork into the "critical" or "important" category when it comes to advanced BI features. Eldridge explained that the active information sharing that accompanies this type of program helps insights arrive more efficiently.

The nature of the BI solutions in question could determine whether a program succeeds or fails. Eldridge explained that products should be easy to grasp because there is a need for many different workers to take up collaborative BI. If these systems stay within the IT department, the difference from traditional systems may be negligible, neutralizing any advantage that might have been gained through their use. Eldridge related that once firms jump through these procedural hoops, they will be able to connect around the world, turning geographically dispersed units into effective teams through their new and improved versions of well-worn BI and analytics.

Making the jump
Selecting a new tech deployment could be a hugely important moment for IT leaders as they set up their BI plans for the future. Necto 14, for instance, contains features that help users connect to one another without leaving the program's interface. It may be possible in a broad sense to introduce collaboration to an organization through standard communication tools such as text chat or video conferencing. However, having the features integrated with the BI software itself is another level of decision-making power. The Necto interface helps users bring their teams into the moment when insights are delivered and collect the resulting opinions.

Social enterprise will be vital for business success

The business world has undergone many revolutions in the past: the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, the influx of female workers in the mid-1900s and now the rise of the Digital Age. 

The internet in particular has spurred substantial change in the way organizations do business, both internally and with customers. One of those evolutions includes the possibility of the social enterprise

In the past, the most innovative techniques and technologies were typically reserved for large companies and corporations, but that's no longer the case today. In fact, many smaller firms are using social enterprise strategies as a way to level the playing field. 

"Having now seen so many high-end ventures around the world with a social mission, we have learnt the importance of branding and how this can make or break a product," Nina Rennie, founder of Nueluxe, recently told The Guardian. 

Social enterprise doesn't refer to a specific technology – it's an organizational strategy that aims to produce improvements across the workplace. A successful one would impact a number of business goals.

In a recent blog post for Co.Exist, Ashoka UK director Mark Cheng highlighted several ways social entrepreneurship can help, including:

Boosting collaboration: The benefits of collaborative organizations are enormous – enhanced communications and innovation, just to name a couple – which will ultimately lead to cost savings and increased revenue. Cheng highlighted that in a social enterprise, "power is moving from the few to the many," thus leading to more flexible teams across the workplace.

– Integration of silos: In the past, most companies built up datasets entirely independent from one another. Sales information, HR databases, employee healthcare information and everything else hardly ever crossed paths. But the recent rise of business intelligence and data analysis tools have prompted the need for more integrated data systems, according to the blog post.

Marketing technology: Different technological innovations enable companies to monitor human behavior, and perhaps no one could benefit from these tools more than marketers.

"Look at diamonds," Paul Cheng, chairman of SharedImpact, told The Guardian. "The product isn't valuable at all, they're just colored rocks. But actually diamond companies over 150 years have been incredibly clever at marketing, and made diamonds aspirational, and incredibly valuable. So I'm interested in how we can use behavioral economics, to sell social enterprise to investors."

Many marketing teams are using technology like predictive analytics to get ahead on consumer trends and identify current problems, and the use of these tools will almost certainly increase.

Achieving data analytics success requires attitude change

Organizations have always had to manage massive amounts of information, but the rise of technological innovations has made that task significantly more challenging. 

"Enterprises are having to deal with a huge volume of data, much higher velocity and increasing complexity," Richard Gordon, managing vice president of the analyst company told Information Age.

As a result, many decision-makers have opted to invest heavily in big data analytics, as these tools will not only provide enhanced organization of information, but they could potentially lead to analytics as well. In the latter's case, however, many business leaders have been less than satisfied. 

In some instances, the problem has to do with the technology. For instance, IT departments are trying to use traditional business intelligence software to accomplish tasks it simply isn't capable of, or the company has adopted technology that is too complicated for the average employee to use. 

In other cases, however, the fault is with the organization's hierarchy.

"I think there's a magic bullet thesis, that somehow we can fire some technology or other at the problem and it will go away," Joe Peppard, professor of information systems at Cranfield University's School of Management, recently told Information Age. 

Traditional BI tools have always been, and continue to be, extremely useful. That won't change going forward.

For companies to take advantage of the heralded capabilities of big data – the predictive analytics, the fraud prevention, data visualization and so on – decision-makers need to view the matter in an entirely new light.

The old-school mentality of designing IT projects, according to Peppard, is a "design to build" paradigm. To achieve success with big data analytics, he proposed companies adopt a "design for use" mentality instead. This requires first outlining what the technology is supposed to accomplish, and then designing the system in a way that will enable the organization to achieve those goals. 

"The idea is that these tools give you the option, not the obligation, to do something, like discover new knowledge, so you can work out a value for those options," Peppard told the news source.

But there is another essential component to big data success: the technology itself. In a recent blog post for CRM Buyer, Dennis Pombriant, managing principal of the Beagle Research Group, stressed that not every software company has developed its tools with the end-user experience in mind.

Fortunately, some vendors, such as Panorama, have emphasized ease-of-use when designing data analytics programs. It will be important for IT professionals to seek out the right tools to help them meet their big data-related goals.

Mobile BI: Making social enterprise a possibility

Very few enterprise revolutions have empowered employees more than the bring-your-own-device movement has. Rather than being forced to use the software and devices assigned to them by decision-makers, workers have a far bigger say on what technology they can use to do their jobs. 

As a result, employees now expect remote access to everything – work email, mission-critical applications and, as of recently, business intelligence (BI) solutions. 

While interest in BI is widespread – executives, salespeople and marketers all want real-time BI – a survey by Domo revealed that most companies' business intelligence strategies are coming up short

"In today's uncertain economic times, the need for trustworthy data is more critical than ever," said Domo founder and CEO Josh James. "Businesspeople need to make fast, well-informed decisions to stay ahead of the pack. But without access to reliable, up-to-date information, even the best-run organizations could be in serious jeopardy."

Challenges must be overcome
A recent study by Report Buyer found that the worldwide mobile BI market is expected to achieve a 27.5 percent compound annual growth rate from 2012 to 2016, driven primarily by the increasing usage of tablets and smartphones in the workplace. However, because some mobile BI applications are incompatible with different operating systems, deployment has been hampered. 

In a recent blog post for Information Management, Ventana Research CEO Mark Smith suggested that mobile BI technology can improve an organization's communication and collaboration substantially. The keys to effective BI deployment, he said, center on making the technology as accessible, usable and adaptable as possible. 

Some business intelligence vendors, such as Panorama Software, have BI solutions that are compatible with mobile operating systems. Even with those programs, implementing an effective strategy will be vital for the social enterprise to be possible. 

"Network performance becomes critical as you develop applications," Michele Pelino, an analyst at Forrester Research, recently told TechTarget. "You want to know that you have a seamless network to put your applications on."

According to the news source, simplicity is one way to achieve success with mobile BI implementation. The article stressed the need for a streamlined process that will make information available to more people at faster rates.

While comprehensive solutions can be valuable, they should not come at the expense of usability, which a recent Ventana Research survey found to be the most important component BI applications. Employees will be more likely to ignore technology they can't figure out, so simple BI strategies are likely the best way to get everyone on board. 

Study: Social collaboration leads to more business success

Many companies have operated for years with very little interaction between their executives, sales, marketing and IT departments. However, if a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study is any indication, such a separation of powers actually reduces business success

“Because enterprise responsibility lives across the C-suite for these issues, collaborative digital conversations are critical to bring it all together and evaluate and adopt these technologies,” said Chris Curran, PwC’s principal and chief technologist for the U.S. firm’s advisory practice.

According to the report, strong collaboration across the workplace can lead to benefits such as 100 percent delivery rates for IT initiatives and overall revenue bumps of more than 25 percent. But many companies are limited in the ways they can promote social enterprise. A separate Ventana Research study, for example, revealed that less than 20 percent of decision-makers are confident in their ability to use existing social collaboration tools

BI can help
In a recent blog post for SmartData Collective, Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer of Ventana Research, wrote that business and social collaboration tools are ranked the second-highest business intelligence (BI) priority for 2013.

Currently, many organizations are using social enterprise tools like shared folders/documents (cited by 86 percent of respondents), wall posting (45 percent) and social recognition (41 percent). However, the problem is that many companies have isolated these programs from one another, as opposed to using them collaboratively, cited by 49 percent of respondents.

According to a recent TechTarget article, integrating these tools will be the key to achieving a social enterprise. The news source suggested that the best results of social deployment would result in every enterprise application and piece of data woven into the same system.

In addition to improved accessibility, this would allow companies to incorporate information into their analytics programs. As the Ventana Research study revealed, business analytics is the top priority for organizations in 2013.

If implementing and integrating these new technologies is the first step, training workers on how to use them should immediately come next.

“If you want to change the way people work, you have to educate employees and get them to understand that change. You can’t just give them a fancy new tool and say, ‘Here, go use it,'” Steve Weissman founder of the Holly Group, told TechTarget. Instead, social enterprise tools would benefit significantly if they are implemented in conjunction with an “intelligence layer,” according to the source.

Social BI tools can help companies improve customer experience

Customer service has always been a top priority for companies, and that hasn’t changed with the invention of many new technologies. However, if a recent Oracle study is any indication, many businesses are struggling to leverage innovations like social media to their advantage. 

“This report demonstrates that organizations around the globe and across many industries are beginning to understand the real business impact of not offering great customer experiences, but are facing execution challenges,” said David Vap, group vice president at Oracle.

According to the survey of more than 1,300 worldwide executives, providing quality customer experience is a top-three priority for 93 percent of companies, particularly since respondents believe that poor service could lead to 20 percent annual losses. In addition, 81 percent of executives said they feel social networking sites will be vital customer experience tools in the future. 

“By empowering customers and employees, breaking down organizational silos, and implementing flexible processes and technology tools, organizations can deliver personalized, seamless customer service through the entire experience lifecycle,” Vap said.

However, the survey indicated that many companies are struggling to implement effective social media strategies. In fact, only 35 percent of respondents said their organizations use these websites as sales channels or customer service mediums. 

Social BI can help
Social customer relationship management (CRM) systems are rapidly gaining popularity, as businesses try to take advantage of the vast amounts of free information available on social networking sites – particularly because many of them are now integrated with business intelligence (BI) applications. As a result, social data analysis tools are becoming extremely common in the corporate world.

In a recent blog for Enterprise Apps Today, Benjamin Lederer, senior product manager at Sage ACT!, discussed the ways social CRM can improve sales, marketing and customer service processes. Through data analysis of different subsets of information – including purchases, inquiries and complaints – companies can get an accurate reading into which products are popular and trending upward, and what might be causing problems. These accurate forecasts can go a long way toward improving the overall customer experience. 

At the same time, social BI tools can do far more than analyzing trends within the company. In a recent blog for Business 2 Community, Angela Hausman, marketing professor at Howard University, wrote that organizations can also use these applications to track interactions on external social media sites. This can be especially beneficial if a company wants to analyze the potential success of a new product. 

Mobile, social BI adoption could explode in 2013

Mobile and social enterprise strategies are infiltrating organizations across every industry. According to multiple studies, companies are leveraging business intelligence (BI) tools to take advantage of the benefits of bring-your-own-device initiatives and the growing popularity of social networking sites.

In a recent blog for SmartData Collective, Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer at Ventana Research, outlined the results of his company’s recent study, which found business analytics to be the top technology innovation goal for 2013.

The report revealed that more than half of organizations consider business analytics to be extremely important when it comes to making smarter decisions and forecasting future trends. Currently, only 9 percent are satisfied with the solutions they have in place. Many companies are having trouble integrating data into their infrastructures (55 percent), accessing the information when necessary (35 percent) and producing accurate results (22 percent), according to the study. 

At the same time, the research indicated that companies will adopt a wide range of BI solutions to accomplish their goals, including:

– Mobile BI solutions: As with most enterprise mobility movements, mobile BI could be the most disruptive business intelligence sector in 2013. By adopting these solutions, decision-makers are hoping to increase employee productivity while enhancing sales numbers and customer service. An earlier survey by BI Scorecard found that BI specialists believe mobile business intelligence applications will improve the most in 2013, according to Information-Management. 

“Only a minority of companies has deployed mobile BI, but for the ones who are successful, the adoption rate is at 39 percent,” Cindi Howson, founder of BI Scorecard, told the source. “That’s about 15 percent higher than the industry average. I think it will be the technology that helps BI become more mainstream and impactful.”

Company leaders are also hoping that mobile BI will improve collaboration, which is another top priority for 2013.

– Social media: Social BI solutions could also be on the rise, according to the Ventana Research report. Less than 10 percent of organizations are satisfied with their social enterprise strategies at the moment. But many are aware of the advantages these applications can provide, including a competitive business advantages (cited by three-quarters of respondents) and improved hiring capabilities.

– Big data: Ventana Research became the latest firm to project substantial growth for the big data sector. According to the study, organizations that have deployed successful big data strategies have reported a 28 percent increase in business. 

Self-service BI, social enterprise among sector’s top trends for 2013

Although the business intelligence (BI) sector exploded in 2012, it wasn’t traditional BI solutions that gained popularity. Instead, many organizations adopted advanced analytics tools to forecast trends, identify issues in real time and boost their fraud prevention. 

With full-scale BI adoption underway, the next step will likely be making the technology more accessible and easier to use for a wider range of employees. 

“Once you deliver a basic set of data and reports to business, you get caught up in a cycle of maintaining the status quo,” said Cindi Howson, founder of BI Scorecard, according to Information Management. “Data quality has gradually improved over time, where flexibility has not.”

In a recent blog for InformationWeek, Howson highlighted what she believes will be the sector’s top trends in 2013, including:

– Mobile BI adoption: As employees continue to use personal laptops, tablets and smartphones for work, they increasingly accept access to company networks and applications. The same will likely hold true for business intelligence programs, which could propel organizations to adopt mobile BI solutions. A recent BI Scorecard survey found that while mobile BI is currently the least successful business intelligence sector, 47 percent of respondents expect this to improve in 2013. Only dashboards – cited by 52 percent of respondents – ranked higher on the list. 

– Rise of the social enterprise: Howson projected that the social enterprise will continue to grow over the next 12 months, although she suggested that collaboration will extend beyond just social networking sites. She wrote that BI collaboration “has the potential to bring the best data to the best analysts,” yet not many vendors have tapped into these capabilities. Howson also noted that Panorama is currently one of the best software companies with regard to collaborative business intelligence.

– Self-service BI: As cloud-based, social and mobile BI continue growing, the technology becomes available to a wider range of employees – especially business executives and other workers outside IT departments. Howson suggested that 2013 will mark the year that self-service business intelligence finally turns into a reality. 

The BI Scorecard found that, at the moment, 44 percent of BI teams do not possess enough time, personnel or resources to meet their companies’ demands. However, with 47 percent of respondents claiming they expect improved self-service BI capabilities in 2013 – tied with mobile BI and behind just dashboards – the use of business intelligence may very well become commonplace outside of IT departments.