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Forward Thinking – The Role of Analytics in Business

Thank you for joining us last week at the SAP Analytics Forum 2013. It was a great opportunity to bring business and IT leaders together to discuss the important issue of extracting business value from big data.  As referenced by nearly all of the event’s speakers, businesses are facing ever increasing amounts of data, and the only way to deal with this deluge is to innovate. Analytics is at the forefront of innovation and if used in the right way, the possibilities for businesses could be endless. 

We had the pleasure of welcoming Tapscott Group’s Mike Dover, who addressed analytics for the social enterprise.  He argued that analytics is firmly at the heart of innovation and with data being more visual, current and actionable than ever before; analytics has the potential to drive real value from this ever diverse and growing pool of information.  And analytics shouldn’t just be the concern of the IT department; with so much to gain across HR and customer service, to supply chain and finance, the potential ‘value add’ from analytics should be recognised across the entire business.

This sentiment was closely followed by some wise words from John Schweitzer, SVP & General Manager of Analytics Solutions, SAP.  His key message – which was a consistent theme throughout the day – was to look forward and not back.  Imagine a day (in the not too distant future) when you enter a retail outlet and the store is able to develop a profile detailing your preferences and shopping habits, based on the aisles you visit. Analytics lies behind processes like this; empowering organisations to be informed, to align their strategy and to adapt their business – ultimately improving customer experience. 

And it wasn’t just John emphasising the power of analytics in customer interaction.  Ben Taylor, Partner, Ernst & Young, talked of how the competitive economic climate has driven a demand for customer centric (rather than product centric) businesses, where analytics will play an increasingly important role.  Intuitive decision making is not enough; with the tools out there to gain a deep understanding of the market, be responsive to risk and to make evidence-based decisions, analytics are fast becoming a strategic imperative.

With the scene set, both the finance and IT tracks saw SAP Solution experts talking through sector and customer specific practical implementation and process of integrating analytics solutions.  The IT track saw Dr Trevor Davis, Global Subject Expert CP, Member of IBM Industry Academy taking to the stage, whilst on the finance side Andrew Tivey, Partner, Ernst & Young spoke about the role of analytics in financial reporting.  Both speakers recognised the importance of focussing on the challenge and outcome to gain the best results from analytics; ensuring the whole organisation is on board and ready for the cultural shift which comes with adoption; and encouraging integration across the business (to avoid information silos).

To round off the day it was great to hear about analytics from the customer perspective.  With a fantastic panel line up including Brian Lumb (Anglian Water), Christine Ashton (BG Group), Trevor Barrett (Premier Foods) and Daniel Sanchez Bordes (Vodafone) a lively discussion ensued.  When asked what their main ‘take-aways’ were for the day – there was a resounding agreement; data should not be siloed as the responsibility of one individual, but should be integrated into roles across the business; start with the outcome and decide on the solution (never the other way round); and don’t see a project as a standalone solution – be prepared to go on a journey with data.

The aim of the day was to inspire and innovate and we hope it did just that.  With zettabytes and even gazzabytes of data fast becoming a reality, we hope the event helped you think about the future of data and the role analytics in the ‘data journey’ businesses are embarking upon. 

If you need any further information about anything discussed during the event, or if you have any feedback or questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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