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Author's profile photo Timo ELLIOTT

Transform Your Business With Analytical Innovations


I presented the first session in the analytics track at the SAP Forum in the UK last week, called “Transform Your Business With Analytical Innovations”.

It is similar to other recent analytics keynotes I have published on this blog. It reviews what I think is the most interesting trends in analytics today; examples of companies using analytics in innovative new ways; and how SAP’s products fit in with those trends:

  • The business use of forward looking “signal” data rather than looking in the rear-view mirror
  • Analytics maturity
  • Information becomes the foundation of IT infrastructures (rather than applications)
  • The datification of daily life, including “my Kindle is watching me” and car telemetrics
  • In-memory is ripping up the rules: faster, smarter, and simpler
  • Breaking down old barriers in BI, including unstructured data, predictive
  • “OLTAP” architectures and the rise of the real-time data platform
  • The NSA’s data quality problem
  • User interfaces without compromise – data discovery AND corporate governance AND predictive AND mobile AND social
  • “Smart Grid” business intelligence, AKA the “network of truth”
  • Customer examples

You can download the presentation in pdf format, with notes or the full presentation as a .pptx file.

[This was originally posted to my Business Analytics blog. If you’re interested in analytics and BI, maybe follow me on twitter?]

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Timo:

      Any thoughts on the use by government (I'm thinking in a Canadian federal context), of analytics? Governments involve billions of dollars with multi-millions of transactions. There seems a dearth of BI in the public sector. Cheers, Kerry

      Author's profile photo Timo ELLIOTT
      Timo ELLIOTT
      Blog Post Author


      Great question. Here are some quick thoughts.

      Just like private companies, government organizations have an almost unlimited number of areas where better use of information could make a difference, but there are differences:

      • Public sector organizations generally have to worry about more variables -- i.e. it's not just about money. This means that they are generally a lot more sophisticated in using techniques such as balanced scorecards and performance management dashboards, that allow for tradeoffs between competing goals -- the public Boston About Results example in the deck is a good one. In public organizations, it's much harder to define what good performance really is, and whether you have achieved it (e.g. Democrats and Republicans are always going to disagree on what the data means).
      • Analytics efficiencies often arise from reducing the amount of time people spend manually looking for, manipulating, and sharing data. It can be hard to track these costs, which -- almost by definition -- don't have their own budget line items. And the people doing the manual work often see the new systems as a threat to their jobs. The best result is when these people are freed to do more value-added work, but this type of role change can be hard in the private sector, and even harder in the public sector.
      • Investment tradeoffs are always hard, and it can be even harder when they are subject to public scrutiny. I talked recently to an IT manager in a hospital that is part of the NHS, the UK public health care system. The team believes that there would be big efficiency gains through more investment in BI -- but that money could also be used to buy, say, more kidney dialysis machines. Even when the gains of IT investment clearly bring about bigger gains in patient care, it can be a tough argument to make faced with journalists on the lookout for scandal headlines.
      • The public sector has lots of interesting problems when it comes to data privacy. On the one hand, access to the data of an individual has to be carefully controlled, but the data in the aggregate can be essential. The stakes usually aren't as high in private companies (e.g. they can't arrest you!).
      • Regulation: in the absence of a profit motive, elected officials and other third parties typically set relatively rigid KPIs, which may result in fewer incentives and possibilities for public sector organizations to freely experiment with BI to improve processes.
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thanks Timo - very interesting comments.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi -

      Since so much is about tracking expenditures against budget, by funding source and cost objects, you will always see a need to track this, all the way down to the item level. Funds management and Labor Distribution tracking is key. I think we will also see Budget preparation taking off, and SAP PBF has become a very impressive solution. of course IP still has a very strong role to play as well. Getting enough funding for BI Competency centers that can properly support deployed solutions always a challenge.



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hello Johannes - good points. Reporting spending from a cost centre perspective is legislated and therefore critical. However there is a growing recognition of the importance and value of reporting by projects, programs and strategic outcomes (a business perspective). Cheers, Kerry