Making the business intelligent

As organisations demand to know more about their customers, they must decide whether to go with standalone or integrated BI solutions

Tags: Frost and Sullivan Middle EastIBM Middle EastSAP Middle East and North AfricaSASTeradata Corporation (www.teradata.com)
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Making the business intelligent Organisations in the Middle East are gaining a better understanding of how business intelligence can drive better decision making and growth.
By  Keri Allan Published  August 29, 2012

Business intelligence (BI) is a growing market in the Middle East, with big players such as SAP, IBM and Oracle providing solutions. While its importance has been known for a long time in the region, there is now a growing understanding of the need to implement BI and how to make the most out of such solutions.

“Like in most regions in the world, organisations in the Middle East are now ready for the next phase of analytics where they move from historical reporting/BI and ad-hoc silo-ed analytics to a full blown integrated analytics-driven process,” highlights Cherif Morcos, Business Analytics Optimisation leader, IBM MEA. “They are at the beginning of this phase, and innovators and early adopters are starting to appear to make sure they benefit from the competitive advantages as soon as possible.”

“As the world becomes dominated with a knowledge-based economy, as more and more of us make decisions using smart devices, the decision window that companies have is shrinking,” continues Paul Devlin, director of Business Analytics, SAP MENA. “In the future, the most successful companies in the Middle East will be those that adopt an analytically-driven corporate culture and mobile enable their business, internally and externally. It is this enablement that is driving so much of SAP’s R&D and has prompted us to build a successful BI and Analytics Division in the Middle East.”

It is clear that the specialists believe that BI can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation, and those that apply analytics will outperform their peers. Frost & Sullivan for example, has highlighted that companies will gain in regards to profitability, productivity and customer service to name but a few.

“BI impact can range from strategic impacts on executive decision making to operational decision making by mid-level management. It can help companies increase revenues and decrease costs, as well as manage risk and compliance,” says John Banks, director of IBM Software, GBM. “BI can help executives make informed decisions, validate their decision making and can also predict future issues and uncover hidden information. Companies may have areas of ‘unconscious competence’ that BI can identify by providing answers to questions the organisation had not considered.”
Simply put, BI solutions can be useful to employees throughout the business, effectively providing them with a mechanism to visualise and interact with corporate data.

“As a result companies can ensure that everyone in the organisation is proactively making informed decisions, in alignment with the company plans and collectively reaching the company objectives,” explains Jean-Marc Bonnet, Teradata Europe Middle East and Africa consulting architect.

So what is the basis of a successful BI deployment? According to Banks, it’s having a strong strategy upfront.

“The organisation needs to build an effective BI strategy even before choosing the technology and skills,” advises Banks. “The strategy is driven by business objectives, enables stakeholders with better decision-making capabilities and helps the enterprise achieve desired goals.

“Effective BI strategy should ensure that enterprise objectives, business strategy, investments and BI are aligned. Enterprises that are able to connect BI to overall enterprise objectives become intelligent enterprises.

“It requires a conscious approach, a blending of enterprise resources to deliver a complete, consistent, and reliable source of information to fulfil the promise of BI,” he continues. ”It must be ensured that business requirements and enterprise objectives drive the iterations. Hence the organisation must establish strategy before bringing technology or techniques into the conversation.”

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