Getting the Big Picture: Hosted Business Intelligence

Amid all the other day to day challenges of running a business, it can be difficult for a growing company owner to make sense of all the different data streams from different areas of the business – leads, sales, accounting, shipping, customer service and more. However, to make solid decisions it’s critical to be able to see the big picture of what’s going on in the business as well as drill down to the details.
This article from Wayne Morris of myDIALS explains how a hosted Operational Business Intelligence solution can help.
For more about how you can use technology to turn business data into useful information, check out the recording of the webinar we hosted with myDIALS – Data Rich, Information Poor: Leveraging Data as a Strategic Asset.
Cost-effectively Improve Business Results through the use of SaaS Operational BI
Wayne Morris, CEO, myDIALS
Today’s business environment is extremely competitive, access to capital is tight, companies and consumers are restricting their purchases and yet we are all striving to enhance customer value, improve efficiency, increase market effectiveness and profitably grow.


Most organizations have spent considerable money and time automating business processes through the use of:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), General Ledger or other financial systems;

  • Sales Force Automation, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation;
  • Manufacturing and logistics systems;
  • Websites, eCommerce and Online storefronts;
  • other IT systems.

The end result tends to be silos of automated processes that support more consistent business processes, but something is still missing. Many organizations find that they have plenty of (almost too much) transactional data but they are missing the big picture. People making daily operational decisions don’t have the relevant, timely information they need, when they need it, within the context of the decisions they are making, with the ability to easily analyze it to make better decisions more quickly.
Operational Performance Management enabled by Operational Business Intelligence (BI) helps companies achieve better business results. There are very real advantages for organizations that embrace this approach. Research studies by industry analyst firms Aberdeen Group and Cambashi highlight the following:

  • companies that outperform their peers are significantly more likely to have embraced Operational BI and Performance Management;
  • best-in-class companies utilize Operational BI more pervasively across multiple areas (back office and front office) within their organizations;
  • tangible improvements in business results across multiple Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are made possible through the use of Operational BI and Performance Management supported by an appropriate Performance Management Platform.

More specifically these studies show the following findings regarding high performing companies (those that significantly outperform their peers on business outcomes such as operating cash flow, customer growth and business visibility) versus others:

  • they are ~80% more likely to have improved their Net Operating Profit and EBITDA;
  • they are twice as likely to deploy performance dashboards;
  • they demonstrate significant improvement in operational metrics ( for example >7x greater improvement in Inventory Turns and Out of Stock Instances versus others).

Performance management is a four-step cycle that involves creating a strategy, devising plans to achieve the strategy, monitoring the execution of those plans and progress towards achieving the strategic objectives, and finally adjusting activities, plans, and goals as circumstances dictate. Operational BI enables the effective monitoring and understanding of operational performance and provides the analytics, alerting, collaboration and scenario analysis to help people decide what actions and adjustments to make to improve performance.
Many IT solutions are now being delivered through the Software as a Service (SaaS) model due to its clear advantages which include:

  • no up-front hardware or software to buy and implement;
  • very rapid implementation and value delivery;
  • no ongoing costs and IT resources required to maintain and update the software;
  • no ongoing computer room and environmental costs;
  • simple, cost-effective subscription fee (typically on a per user basis);
  • low-risk since if value is not being delivered, the company can choose not to renew the subscription.

In addition to these generic benefits of SaaS, the Aberdeen study also found a direct correlation between the use of Software as a Service (SaaS) BI and superior business results. As examples, they found that companies using SaaS BI achieved significantly better results than those using other forms of BI, such as:

  • 3x greater improvement in New Pipeline Accounts identified,
  • 2.3x greater improvement in New Accounts Sold;
  • 3.6 x greater improvement in Total Closed Contracts;
  • 2.9x greater improvement in Customer Retention Rate; and
  • 2x greater improvement in Customer Issue Resolution Speed.

You can gain competitive advantage and become a high performing company by embracing Performance Management enabled by Operational BI. Using a SaaS model is not only low-cost and low risk, it is also very quick to deliver value and will result in superior business outcomes. In today’s business environment, you can’t afford to delay or you may fall behind your competition

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

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