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Does your company have a strategy for Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics?

I came across this material on assessing strategy: http://www.sap.com/bistrategy

which is worth filling out to get some good insights.

Recently, I had to a chance to speak with Russ Hill and Carrie Van Sickle here at SAP about Retail industry companies and what makes some of them very successful, in the context of BI.  Here’s a few of the highlights:

1. BI Strategy

Does your company have a strategy on how to use and disseminate information, and how to gain actionable insight?  Or are things done arbitrarily around the organization?  A recent study you can find via the link above revealed only 27% of companies have a clearly defined BI and analytics strategy.  I suspect it may be a bit higher in the Retail industry, but don’t have the data. Would you share your thoughts and experience on this topic?

2. Mobility

Access to information is still an issue in many companies. Mobile BI is a great way to address this.  Handheld smartphones and tablets don’t have a lot of processing power, but when backed with in-memory computing and well designed BI solutions like Explorer, you can get instant access to timely information.  Really critical for folks in the field, whether buyers negotiating with suppliers, or regional and district managers checking on store performance.

Not everyone needs the info to be ad-hoc on the device – but getting them truly Key Performance Indicators in front of them is hugely valuable. 

3. Competency Center

A central team approach seems to be working well in several retailers we know.  Basically the competency center is a resource of talent that understand the business issues and the technology.  I’m NOT talking about a group of coders and report writer experts.  Well yes, we need some folks that know the tools, but beyond that, we’ve found the most successful retail companies have embedded business people in the group.  These are the people who deeply understand the processes, whether its the supply side or the store operations or marketing side of the business.  Working in tandem with colleagues that know the tools and where the data lives, they can deliver outstanding results. 

4. Data Governance

This is an emerging theme – not just the processes, systems, and people, but policy, and the mindset people use to think about their data.

At last year’s SAP Retail Forum, Professor Paoni from Kellogg helped us focus on a small number of leading indicators, not dozens of lagging indicators that only serve to confuse.  Simple dashboards can be hugely empowering and eliminate staff confusing – very powerful for managers to get the team to a consistent understanding.  A colleague recently shared a case of “213 KPIs”, and most of us recognize that there is opportunity to simplify to perhaps a handful that are clearly communicated. 

Data hygiene also comes into play – it’s a term not everyone is comfortable with, but the point is there is a lot of stale, inconsistent, and dirty data out there.  There are tools and services to help, and we all know a story of a least one new system that hit speedbumps while having to deal with dirty legacy information.

5. Collaboration and Co-Innovation

Getitng the business and IT teams working side by side works well.  To take this to the next level, I invite you to bring SAP and our partners in to the discussion.  There are a lot of exciting new solutions that can help you bring your BI execution to the next level, and we can do this together. Are you ready?

In particular, I think about new retail solutions like Point of Sale Data Management on HANA, for ridiculously new levels of performance combined with new ways to understand your customer.  You may have heard we’re working with retailers to build a repository for all customer data, whether it’s coming from POS, ecommerce, mcommerce, CRM call center etc.  Have you embarked on collaborative efforts?

I’m sure we will hear more interesting stories and best-practice ideas. Please participate.

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