Get business fit

By Mark Villazon on
One question I keep fielding as a BI consultant is whether business intelligence is still relevant. With the current focus on high performance analytics, big data and predictive analysis, is traditional business intelligence still a necessary element in an organisation’s IT landscape?

I would argue it is and an essential one. All businesses need to remain agile in the face of changing market conditions and competition. And, one of the best ways companies can remain fit for purpose is to put their business intelligence platform to work.

Business intelligence is not a product or a solution, it is a collection of technologies, methodologies and frameworks on which any number of different work-outs can be created to maintain visibility of business performance.
While there is a lot of focus on business analytics at present, it is – to continue the analogy – only one form of exercise.  HANA has a game changing ability allowing analytics to be run directly on top of an organisation’s ERP system – allowing it to do everything in real time. But it is not the be all and end all.

At Oxygen, a DXC Technologies Company we actively promote HANA as a great way of gaining real time insights, but organisations shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that their BI platform – those methods, processes and technologies that when combined form a powerful data processing centre – provides an essential overarching infrastructure that allows other key forms of analysis to take place. It is the gym within which all forms of exercise can be performed (ie. Data Visualisation, Predictive, Geospatial, Textual, Planning, etc.).

It comes into its own, for example, when reporting on financials. Due to processes such as month end close and intercompany consolidations, running reports directly against the source financial system can be problematic. At such times a data warehouse is key. It provides a home for extracted data that is not contaminated by any problems that might be occurring with real time record entry. The data is trustworthy and allows you to extrapolate information and build accurate trend analyses.

Also, just because an organisation has invested heavily in SAP, it doesn’t mean that it will use that system for all its back office business activities. Having a BI platform allows organisations to compare data sets across different systems – drawing financial data out of the ERP system and operational data from different systems. A BI platform allows that data to be meshed together for better insights into how the business is travelling.

If your organisation is considering deploying ERP on HANA – and there are excellent reasons for doing so, as it provides line managers and financial teams with lightning quick results from complex data queries – don’t let that blind you to the value in your existing BI platform. Explore the options of running your current BI solution on top of HANA (ie. A HANA EDW combining SAP and/or non-SAP in a single DW) – an option that will protect existing investments and provide a means of speeding up data evaluation.

Mark Villazon, BI & Analytics Practice Manager at Oxygen, a DXC Technologies Company will be speaking at this years Mastering Analytics on 27th - 29th October in Melbourne.