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Cracking the Business Genome

by Bil Khan | SAPinsider

October 1, 2012

Businesses are looking for the “killer app” that will allow them to link analytics from both structured and unstructured information – the DNA of their business – to enable superior decision making. In this article, you’ll learn how being able to analyze and report on this collective information can provide competitive advantage to your business and help you innovate faster and better than your competition.
 

Businesses agree that linking their ERP systems — which contain much of a company’s structured data — and their enterprise content management (ECM) systems — which hold the company’s unstructured content — to create a centralized information interface would be largely beneficial. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by AIIM, the majority of all respondents (76%) said they believe that linking structured data to unstructured content would be useful.1

And, of course, while it’s quite common to see businesses leveraging analytical and data management tools to extract valuable insights from their structured data, only a few seem to have the capability to extract insights from their unstructured content. That’s why companies are now looking for the “killer app” that will allow them to link analytics from both structured and unstructured information to help them fuel superior decision making and enable them to rapidly adapt and capitalize on new business opportunities.

Why is the ability to link structured data and unstructured content so important? It’s because this information makes up a very important part of a business’s DNA.

The DNA of the Business

The DNA of a living organism determines various characteristics. And encoded within this DNA is the genome — the entirety of the organism’s hereditary information. Similarly, every company carries the DNA of its particular business in the form of its business processes. In essence, this “business DNA” shapes the way a company does business, how it responds to changing customer needs and adapts its internal operations, and how it runs its support services. Within the business DNA, the genome is represented by the structured data and unstructured content that feed into the company’s business processes, supporting each area of the business. 

As I mentioned earlier, right now, companies tend to use structured data when making business decisions simply because this is the kind of data that their analytics tools can easily access. However, to fully exploit the business genome, companies must tap into their unstructured content as well. Being able to analyze and report on unstructured content can help maximize a company’s ability to evolve and address new challenges. That’s why it’s so important that, even in the absence of a “killer app,” businesses need to be able to systematically manage unstructured content and make it simple to find, govern, and share, while connecting this content to the organization’s business processes.

Let’s look at some examples of how a complete business genome can provide competitive advantage to your business and help you innovate faster and better than your competition.

Improve Customer Relations

Companies are looking to increase revenue and improve customer relationships by integrating all customer content — from emails, faxes, PDFs, and images, for instance — with SAP Business Suite software. The key is to provide a single point of access to all business information to improve process transparency and ensure that your business users can concentrate on addressing customers’ concerns instead of searching for their information.

For instance, you can reduce call response time when you have all customer information readily available and at a service rep’s fingertips. The SAP Document Access application by OpenText provides just such an information repository.

And with a solution like the SAP Document Presentment application by OpenText, which allows you to create personalized campaigns and generate proposals, offers, and letters on the fly, you can also transform ordinary business documents into powerful communication channels. By integrating document-related processes within SAP business processes, you can streamline your customer communications into timely, one-to-one communications with marketing, sales, and distribution documents.

By using this application to enable proactive, personalized communications, you achieve significant cost savings, increase call center agent productivity, reduce printing costs through the use of e-documents, and improve efficiency by establishing dynamic communication with customers.

Empower Your Employees

To increase the operational efficiency and productivity of the HR department, you’ll need to provide tools that empower employees to manage their own workforce documents while requiring intervention from as few HR resources as possible. The SAP Employee File Management application by OpenText, the SAP Portal Content Management application by OpenText, the SAP Portal Site Management application by OpenText, and the SAP Travel Receipts Management application by OpenText provide the necessary connections between SAP solution data and non-SAP content. This kind of easy information access can help companies fully streamline internal HR and employee self-service processes to provide new efficiencies.

Strengthen Relationships with Partners, Suppliers, and Government Agencies

You can reduce costs and legal exposure and improve collaboration and relationships with partners, suppliers, and government agencies by optimizing and automating your invoice management, asset management, and records management processes. These processes provide unified, 360-degree access to transactional and unstructured content in a choice of interfaces. Users can gain access via standard SAP interfaces, making it easier for them to store content with an appropriate structure and key metadata attributes. This also enables the user to readily find the content associated with a customer, a supplier, an invoice, a part, or equipment in SAP software. Additionally, by scanning and digitizing paper documents, you can reduce reliance on manual paper processes and lower physical storage needs and costs.

To help with this endeavor, SAP offers tools like the SAP Invoice Management application by OpenText, the SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management by OpenText, and the SAP Document Access and Archiving application by OpenText, which all tightly integrate with SAP Business Suite. With these solutions working independently or together, you can reduce invoice processing costs, mitigate compliance risks with better records management and retention policies, and improve supplier relationships by ensuring on-time payments.

Use Information to Gain the Upper Hand

Succeeding in today’s connected global environment means finding shrewd new ways to gain competitive advantage. The ECM-focused solution extensions from SAP can help you manage your business genome and facilitate innovation across your enterprise. With these tools, you can:

  • Increase efficiency by making unstructured content available through a business user’s preferred interface.
  • Boost productivity by shortening the time needed to find or recreate unstructured content and by streamlining content access.
  • Minimize risks associated with unstructured content by controlling its complete life cycle.
  • Reduce costs by digitizing paper documents, reducing storage requirements, and consolidating content management systems.
  • Enhance collaboration and increase communications with project workspaces that centralize project information and enable team members to efficiently work together.
  • Control the growth of content repositories and minimize IT complexity.
  • Mitigate project risk with records management functionality that classifies and stores content for compliance purposes.

For more information on how these solutions can strengthen your business DNA, visit http://scn.sap.com/community/solution-extensions

         
     

Bil Khan (bil.khan@sap.com) is a marketing professional with a record of driving profitability, expanding market share, and spurring global growth for high-tech entities. He received his MBA in marketing from Pennsylvania State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas.

         

1. AIIM, “Big Data — Extracting Value from Your Digital Landfills” (2012). [back]

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