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Why the Need for Business Analytics Looms Large

by Stephanie Buscemi | insiderPROFILES

January 1, 2011

Do you ever wish you had a GPS device for your business? Stephanie Buscemi, Group Vice President of Marketing for Business Analytics at SAP, believes that, just as these devices account for factors we might not be aware of when driving, business users similarly need reliable insight from business data. She explains that because users are increasingly navigating a clutter of information, the need for business analytics is steadily growing.
 

As I reach for the keyboard to type my thoughts, before I begin, I have to close all of my open files and applications to reduce the clutter on my screen so that I can concentrate, without distraction, on what I need to write to convey my intended message. But as I clear my workspace — closing down the open items, eliminating layer upon layer of fragmented information — each item triggers in my mind a million things that I still need to do and a million questions that I still need to get answered in order to move my work forward.

My situation, sadly, is not an isolated case, and it is a stark reminder of why I chose this career — to bring the power of business analytics to every organization, regardless of its industry, geography, or size. Individuals everywhere are still struggling to really “know” their business because they cannot access the right data, navigate it, and organize it in a way that makes sense, or keep up with the pace at which things change — or all of the above. 

In a way, the situation is similar to traveling by car. Getting somewhere can be second nature if the task is to drive to a local store down the street, where you have been a hundred times before. However, if you’re driving to a new or foreign destination, you may encounter unfamiliar streets and traffic patterns, unexpected tolls or construction work, or a lack of street lights to help identify key landmarks. Then, what seems like a simple task — going from one destination to another — could actually be quite complex. Fortunately, the advent of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) has alleviated this. A GPS device not only points us to the fastest route, but also factors in real-time traffic conditions, so you know the best route to take at any time of the day — without stopping to ask for directions or scanning the radio to find a traffic update.

Businesses, too, need a GPS device of sorts. Like driving to a destination, every business user needs to know where they are currently, where they are headed, and how they are going to get there efficiently. Just as a GPS device takes into account factors that we might not be aware of when driving, business users need the power of reliable insight from business data, at the right time and at the right place, from anywhere across the enterprise.

On the latter point, I am hopeful. In fact, every day I’m encouraged by fantastic stories from SAP customers who are finding the right solutions to make a difference in their business — from a growing restaurant chain that implemented SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation to improve its planning and analysis to a GPS device manufacturer (coincidentally) that deployed SAP BusinessObjects Access Control to manage complex business processes and employee roles.

My passion is to simplify the way we do our work, to give us back the time we spend each day going through mountains of valuable open files and applications that don’t give us the insight we really need. 

This issue of insiderPROFILES, for example, features profiles of two customers: Colgate-Palmolive, a consumer products company with over 38,000 employees; and Baker Hughes, Inc., an oil and gas company with over 35,000 employees. Each business had very different requirements, but they share a common interest of wanting to provide their business users with more information that’s critical to their jobs — when they need it and in the way that they want to receive it.

With its new spend performance management application, Colgate-Palmolive wants end users to feel more in control of their destiny. With this application, users can combine much more data than they could with the previous system, therefore, expanding the sheer volume of information the company has about its supply chain. Users can now see information about spend and committal spend, analyze contract spend, and identify areas where the company can save money — in addition to importing external factors like commodity prices or other procurement files — all in the same application. 

For Baker Hughes, the issue is one of identifying and mitigating risk. By creating a single “risk register,” the company is harmonizing and rationalizing all potential risks so that the executive team, management, and people at the oil rig can all see the same information and have the same understanding of risk and a shared vision of what they are trying to achieve.

My passion is to simplify the way we do our work by shifting away from more point solutions to technologies that, once and for all, give us back the time we spend each day going through mountains of valuable open files and applications that don’t give us the GPS-like insight we really need. That’s where business analytics comes in — to help us harness the true value of data, our most precious corporate asset.

Keep reading this issue of insiderPROFILES for the full stories of Colgate-Palmolive and Baker Hughes. And, search through the article archives here on the magazine’s website to read other SAP success stories around business analytics. The January issue of SAPinsider also includes an article written by Jeff Veis of SAP, Purpose-Built, Industry-Specific Insight That's Effective and Agile? New Analytic Applications Prove It’s Possible, that provides another perspective on business analytics. I also invite you to visit www.sap.com/analytics.

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