IBM Cognos TM1 is like a Swiss Army knife – it has capabilities to do a
lot of different things extremely well. One of the practices it’s
being utilized for with incredible results is an emerging, but no so
well understood, practice entitled profitability modeling and
optimization. The power of IBM Cognos TM1 is the primary reason this
practice has emerged. Companies adopting IBM Cognos TM1 as the
technology of choice for this practice is the primary reason they’re
thriving moving from ‘also rans’ to industry leaders. Still, this post
is less about IBM Cognos TM1 and more about the process, Profitability
Modeling & Optimization.
When talking about profitability modeling & optimization it’s
more illustrative to start with the ever-important strategic element of
price. It’s that set amount that can make or break a product or service
or even the company’s acceptance by the marketplace. Price, of course,
is most often set by what the market is willing to pay for this product
or service. A lot of factors can go into your pricing strategy
including things like the brand equity and image of the product or
service (Think Tiffany’s), expected sales volumes (Think economies of
scale), competitive factors (Only game in town?), or if it’s a new
category being created. Of course, we know that companies profit by
selling this product or service at a margin greater than its cost.
Then, a profit is turned.
Now, what you do with those profits is then up to the company to
decide. Do you reinvest those profits? Most do. If so, how do you
allocate them across the business for the most profitable return?
Maybe you even want to release some of them to shareholders via
dividends? What about making acquisitions? These are important
decisions to make based on what the future needs of the business are.
This is a good problem to have.
Enter Profitability & Optimization.
To sustain competitiveness in the marketplace organizations must be able to model their profitability to maximize profits and optimize the components to profitability that incur costs.
Most companies are performing some form of profitability and
optimization activities everyday. The BIG difference is that some are
much better at it than others. Why is this? What separates them from
the others? It comes down to the best-in-class organizations investing
in their people, the related processes, and a capable technology.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What degree of insight do you have into product, customer, and market profitability?
How timely and reliable is this information?
Is the information in one system or do you have to make phone calls,
send emails, query multiple databases and compile it together into a
spreadsheet to make sense of it and even then it’s incomplete?
Can you perform ad hoc analysis on that information to answer
questions about the data to complete a thought process or run a
Are you able to quickly understand anomalies/outliers in historic data?
Are you able to quickly explore cause and effect?
Do you understand the drivers that both impact and are impacted by price & cost?
Now, how would your colleagues in Sales, HR, Marketing, IT, Operations, etc. answer these questions?
It’s critical to know that every area of the business is looking at
some element of profitability. Running scenarios, what if, and
profitability analysis with a 360-degree viewpoint of the data is the
lifeblood of value-added analysis for making smarter decisions which, if
done effectively, translates into better corporate performance.
Without better insight and understanding of the information derived from
profitability modeling and optimization, business users are forced to
go on their gut and/or out of date information — or, worse, they’re
waiting until they do get the information they need before they can
act…tick, tick, tick. Time is money.
If you and the rest of the workforce don’t have this information at
your fingertips don’t fret because you’re not alone. However, things are
changing. Companies today are investing more and more into this
practice area as technology has caught up in a way that’s allowing for
massive data volumes to be sliced-and-diced in seconds for this very
Now is the time to act. The technology is there so I’d ask why isn’t
your organization there too. Hustle up. I know a lot of companies
that are doing this practice very well – and some that aren’t
unfortunately. They’re the ones looking to leverage IBM Cognos TM1 to
put them on the path to better PM&O.
If you want to know more about this subject feel free to email me to discuss further.
Click here to see more resources on IBM Cognos TM1.
More Blog entries @ http://ibm-business-analytics.com
“Get your house in order.” This expression is referenced everywhere. I hear politicians repeatedly using it: “Before we start talking new taxes or entitlement reforms we gotta get our house in order.” Sports figures too: “We had a great practice today but, before we think about competing for the division title, we gotta get our house in order.” Celebrities aren’t immune from invoking it either: “Like, I totally want to hit the party scene again but, since I like just got out of rehab, I like think I need to lay low and totally like get my house in order first. One more thing…do you know where I can get a drink around here?” Okay. Maybe that last one’s a stretch.
Relating this expression to the processes owned by the finance functions at corporations, the house that most often needs to get in order is the Close, Consolidate, Report & File process, or CCRF. The timeliness and accuracy in this process is pivotal for company survival. Still, many companies struggle with this process for many reasons. Some of these reasons are that businesses are still using multiple opaque and rigid systems lacking any integration capabilities to seamlessly align each of the activities like the required disclosures and governance of financial statement reporting. Also, and most frequently, there are poorly trackable and error-prone manual inputs or overrides to the data as spreadsheets and stand alone documents are often used in this process. A lot of companies are using out-of-date and misappropriated tools without any audit-able workflow management system. This time consuming, labor intensive approach leads to unnecessary delays completing the CCRF process in a timely and reliably accurate manner. As a result, there’s little trust from the business users that these performance results are indeed accurate. Therefore, the figures become largely ignored by the business users rendering them useless for business insight. This leaves the workforce normally relying on these results to help make their strategic decisions forced to act on their gut or intuition. Not good….and I haven’t even gotten into the ramifications of disclosing incorrect information to regulators or shareholders!
The Close, Consolidate, Report & File Process
FINANCE: LIKE THE MYTHOLOGICAL ATLAS THEY’VE GOT THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD ON THEIR SHOULDERS BUT LACK THE MUSCLE TO HOLD IT UP
Finance departments are already overburdened with newfound regulatory, compliance, and financial reporting requirements not to mention new disclosure expectations and the forthcoming global XBRL initiative while being pushed to be more analytical and insightful about “what the data is telling them” in regards to critical business impacting activities like market analytics, customer profitability, predictive analytics, scena rio planning, etc. Yes, the rising water level of requirements falling under their purview shows no signs of abatement. Yet, empirical research backed up by the likes of The Hackett Group, APQC and the IBM Global CFO/CIO Studies, shows that these finance departments continue to shrink in size relative to revenue at a time when they should be growing. What’s wrong with this picture???
In summary, Finance is facingexternalpressures from the following:
Volatile and uncertain economy,
Compliance with new regulatory and financial reporting requirements means increased workloads,
New disclosure requirements and global XBRL mandates means more work within tight time frame,
while having to respond tointernalpressures from the following:
Evolving role of CFO and the Office of Finance
Need to liberate finance professionals from manual and complex processes
Executive management needs timely and accurate reports to respond to market opportunities in very short time
Changing Events & Regulations Since 1999
THE ANSWER: AUTOMATION THROUGH AN INTEGRATED SOLUTION
A controlled, automated, audit-able CCRF practice is required for finance to be doing the right things. Finance teams are re-engineering their financial close processes to individual close, consolidate, report & file activities. To manage and monitor these processes, they’re investing in integrated solutions that can automate these activities into a unified, secure solution. Implementing this integrated CCRF solution provides instant benefits by automating administrative tasks with embedded controls to allow finance to focus on analysis and other high-value activities. CCRF practices are no longer simply about closing the books, consolidating the data while running inter-company eliminations, minority interest calculations, and currency translations to come up with ‘the numbers’ before finally publishing them out on some financial reports. No, there’s additional disclosures and financial governance required. To get ahead of this one you’ve got to implement a CCRF system to manage it all else the levee will break and we know what happens then.
Find out more about how to automate this process because it’s not going to shrink in requirements. So, get that house in order or I’ll invite that celebrity I referenced earlier over to your house for dinner. :)
Books. There’s all genres. Business. Nonfiction, Fiction, History, Current Events, Biographies, Mysteries and on and on. Whatever the genre there’s nothing like a great book. They can entertain you, inform you of information you’d otherwise never know, challenge your thinking, and even change your life. Many people like to read so much that they’ll take on multiple books at a time each serving a different purpose: one, current events; another, fiction; a third, history; a fourth, humor, etc. I suppose the thinking is that depending on their mood they’ve got a book to satisfy that moment’s interest. If you’re in this camp then you know you can easily end up bouncing from book to book, day to day slowly chipping away at each one.
Sound familiar to anyone?
The only problem is that over time you end up adding more and more new books to the already ‘in progress’ collection. As more and more books are added to your bedside collection eventually as Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin sings, “when the levee breaks” you sheepishly put one unfinished book after the other back on the bookshelf because you can’t possibly ready all 20 or 30 books at once!!! At this point you’ve safely returned to your 3-books-at-a-time maximum only to repeat the overload cycle again in no time.
A funny and clearly harmless situation that happens to a lot of us. This is what can happen when someone is left to their own devices unchecked without any accountability. What if there were larger consequences for not completing these books? Maybe there were some higher priority books that needed finishing over others? Maybe one of the books was a library book or a borrowed book with a timeline associated with it? Maybe some books were started because they were more fun to read than the less interesting ones with a time sensitivity attached to them? Maybe one was for a book club where there was a shared interest in its completion so they reader could add value to the reading group? If any of these situations applied we are probably more likely to become extremely serious about one book over the other so we’re essentially prioritizing our reading. Again, a harmless example but I think it’s illustrative of the competing priorities we might have in our jobs too.
Well, why should it be any different when we’re talking about our job-related actions? We are constantly having to prioritize our most important tasks or objectives, both long and short term. If the organization places critical importance on certain goals and objectives whereas everything else is considered less critical wouldn’t the organization want to ensure the workers and the entire workforce is being measured against those goals and objectives on an ongoing basis so ‘every chapter is read’?
A common way to measure and monitor this performance is through the use of key performance indicators, or KPIs. A Key Performance Indicator is an industry word for a set of financial and non-financial measurements used by an organization to assess its success or the success of a specific activity in which it is engaged. A KPI is a business metric used to evaluate crucial factors to the achievements of a business objective for an individual employee of the company, a group of employees, or the entire organization. KPIs aren’t a one size fits all thing. They differ for every organization. For example, KPIs may be something like net revenue or some customer loyalty metric. In the case of the government, a KPI might be the unemployment rate.
A KPI allows an organization to monitor whether it is on track or not. KPIs serve to decrease the intricate nature of organizational performance to a small number of key indicators so as to make it more digestible for us. KPIs are used in our personal lives too. Think of a doctor measuring things like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart rate and our body mass index as important indicators of our overall health. KPIs we are trying to accomplish the same in the organizations.
Assigning the right KPI’s is less art and more science. A little tip for you…Be careful because what you’re measuring yourself and other individuals in the organization by is ultimately going to reflect how you all behave. For example, if a purchasing manager is being measured only by cost, they’re likely to start ordering in bulk and paying suppliers late. Good for the purchasing manager, bad for business. This is because the purchasing manager may have been ordering a lesser quality material, the inventory resulting from bulk ordering may outstrip any benefits from ordering in bulk, while the supplier relationships may suffer. Bad for business all the way around. The metrics by which people are measured drive their behavior so be careful what KPIs you select.
Selecting the Right KPIs
First, define the success criteria and then choose the best 5 KPIs which the employee will be measured. Involve the employee in question in the process of determining their KPIs. This is critical and will ensure there’s a feedback loop in place which is important as you might have missed a nuance that the employee can shed light on and, besides, you want the buy-in from the employee as the eventual KPI owner and a good way to get it is by collaborating with them about what the KPIs should be. From there the employee will look at ways they can influence those KPIs. If you do this correctly, KPIs can drive the behavior. As Peter Drucker said, “you can’t manage, what you can’t measure.” That said, establishing KPIs will provide that accountability necessary to empower your employees to do the right things and take ownership of them.
First, define your success measures. These might be, how well are we satisfying our customers? How well are we managing risk? …or innovating? …or managing our costs? Then, you will want to define the KPIs that make up that success measure. The KPI might be willingness to recommend, customer retention or loyalty. Those measures can be converted into metrics which can have goals attached and history for comparisons. Once assigned through a collaborative exercise between the individual, their management team, and perhaps an outside consultant they can drive behaviors that foster the team effort companies relish. The employee is most likely going look at the drivers that can effect their measurements and see where the other influencers are in these measurements. It can force greater collaboration among these groups with a sense of “team” that never existed before. Suddenly, programs will spring up to ensure those measures go in the right direction. This is what accountability and ongoing measurement of what’s important will ensure these individuals will focus on the right things and evaluate their priorities as they go about their jobs.
Take a deeper look at the impact of measuring and monitoring performance through KPIs. It can make a difference in getting everyone acting with purpose-driven intent not roving around rudderless.
Organizational discipline around doing the right things (read purposeful action) is critical to outperforming the competition. As Van Morrison sang on his excellent album The Philosopher’s Stone, it’s “not supposed to break down” but a lot of times achieving your goals, personal or professional, do break down because people inevitably get distracted by other non-essential projects because a lot of times they get distracted by doing the things they ‘like’ doing over others just to keep busy. Then, before you know it they’re putting that ‘must be completed book’ back on the shelf with still unread chapters.
Get started with this in your enterprise through small successes. Promote those successes and expand from there. Slow and methodical. If possible, address the most needy area of the business first.
Tim O’Bryan/IBMEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org://provenpractices.wordpress.com
With six weeks to go before the end of the year my thoughts have of late been going in two directions, usually at once. If I'm not looking back on the year that was (an extraordinary year for IBM, given its 100th birthday as a company) I'm looking at the year that will be, given our persistently uncertain economy and the blinding pace of change.
We'll be recapping the major themes of the year over the next few weeks, but in the meantime I'd like to highlight some recent research from IBM that should help you chart your course as you look ahead to next year as well.
Mind the gap. (The analytics gap)
The first is Analytics: The widening divide. This is the second study from MIT Sloan Management Review and the IBM Institute for Business Value to explore how organizations are using business analytics to outperform and drive better outcomes. The 2010 survey identified three types of analytical sophistication: Aspirational, Experienced and Transformed. This new survey reveals what these organizations were able to achieve competitively through their use of analytics. IOD attendees saw a sneak peek of the results (Read my earlier post here).
The study's main finding was the growing gap in the ability of organizations to gain competitive advantage through analytics. Almost 60 percent of organizations are now
achieving competitive advantage with analytics. Transformed organizations that apply analytics for a
competitive advantage are 3.4 times more likely to substantially
outperform their industry peers. Companies that wait to advance their
analytics capabilities do so at their own risk.
Next is the 2011 IBM Tech Trends Survey, which came out earlier this week. This extensive survey asked more than 4,000 IT professionals from across our developerWorks community about the future of analytics, cloud, mobile computing and social business and returned some fascinating results.
For cloud adopters, "developing new applications" is
expected to be the top activity in the next 24 months, surpassing
today's top cloud focus areas of virtualization and storage.
51 percent of respondents stated that adopting cloud technology is part of their mobile strategy
India may be all about social business technology (57% adopting), but other countries including Russia (19%) are more hesitant.
Respondents cited Java (77%) Linux (56%) and Linux (50%) as the skills most valued by employers, with PHP, (35%), SOA (33%) and C# (33%) finishing off the list.
The third report is the 2011 IBM Midmarket CMO Study, which points out the big-time concerns of small- and mid-sized businesses. For example:
Building and sustaining brand loyalty is the top concern for midmarket CMOs, yet 72 percent of them are not sure how to effectively build this loyalty.
70 percent of these CMOs are concerned about data explosion, as they are tasked with making sense of highly complex information generated constantly from a variety of sources such as consumer blogs,
Tweets, mobile texts, and videos.
Only 40 percent of midmarket CMOs are taking the time to understand and evaluate the impact of consumer generated reviews, blogs and third party rankings of their brands.
The report also suggests that today’s CMOs need to be better prepared with an empowered consumer that is impacting brands instantly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels. (Look no further than this week’s challenge that Bank of America faced when its Google+ channel was “brandjacked”!)
T-minus eight hours before I'm off to the Mandalay Bay, so I'll make this one short and sweet.
One thing to watch
We've just released a great new video called 'From Information to Analytics: The IBM Story.' It outlines our history in helping you wrangle and make sense of your increasingly messy landscape of data and features most of the IBM Software Executives you'll see on-stage next week.
Two things to read
The first our research report, 'Analytics: The new path to value' produced by our Institute for Business Value in partnership with the MIT Sloan Management Review. Its findings propose solutions to the different pieces of your information-and-analytics value
puzzle, based on surveys of nearly 3,000
executives, managers and analysts working across more than 30
industries and 100 countries.
Believe it or not, I always need to remind myself of these every time I go somewhere:
Business cards: E-introductions are handy, but until everyone has the 'Bump' app on their iPhone (and everyone has an iPhone) these little gems still have a lot of currency.
Comfortable shoes: It's a long walk from the Mandalay to the EXPO and you'll spend more time on your feet between those two destinations.
Memory sticks: Much like business cards, these little miracles are essential until we're all comfortable sharing info in the cloud.
I'll be spending a lot of time between sessions in our 'Share' and 'Connect' social spaces and would love to meet you if you have the time. If you're heading down, safe travels to all, and I'll see you in the twitter stream (remember to use #iod11 or #ibmsoftware).
You'll see some of these recent acquisitions next month if you're heading down to Information On Demand next month. It boasts the biggest EXPO in the IBM Software galaxy and ample opportunities to meet product and solution experts, so not only will you discover the value that these acquisitions can bring to your organizations, you'll see how that value is augmented and extended within a broader IBM software solution. On a Smarter Planet, the smartest companies will win. So whether you're in retail, banking, education or simply want to learn more about analytics I'd urge you to do two things: read the report and register now.
THINKing about Leadership, for a Smarter Planet
IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano opened this week's IBM THINK Forum in New York by calling for a new type of leadership. Palmisano noted that although competition drives progress and innovation, it's not sufficient in an interconnected world. In this new model, Palmisano said, "the wild west of competition needs to be complemented and tempered by far more collaboration across old boundaries: across academic disciplines, industries, nations; even amongst our most fierce competitors. Palmisano also commented on the lessons IBM has learned over its first century, lessons that will enable it to survive into the next:
The Forum drew many influential - not to mention thoughtful - attendees including Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Sony Corporation, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and His Excellency Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico. Rob Enderle of Forbes wrote about the conference here, and you can see more videos here.
In addition to the Forum, IBM has also installed the THINK Exhibit, a visual exploration of making the world work better, in Lincoln Center in New York. The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through a series of experiences, including:
The Data Wall: Striking patterns undulating on a 123-foot digital wall, visualizing live data streaming from the city’s nearby systems, like traffic details, untapped solar energy, water leakage through the city’s main aqueduct, air quality and credit card transactions.
Immersive Film: An immersive film displayed across 40 seven-foot, vertical media panels that tells stories of progress, including space exploration, personalized medicine and biotechnology.
Interactive Experiences: After the film, the 40 media panels switch to interactive touch screens, becoming a forest of discovery. Visitors can explore the various ways science and technology have improved the world, and the
tools and methods used to drive progress, showcasing inspiring examples of systemic progress around the world.
The Icons of Progress: IBM’s top 100 milestones, including the PC, the first computerized airline reservation system and the Apollo Missions. Through graphics and stories, the icons tell the story of big risks, lessons learned and discoveries that have transformed the way we work and live.
The Exhibit is open to the public from September 23 to October 23, and smaller scale exhibits are installed at 14 IBM locations around the world, including IOD.
Moneyball author Michael Lewis and Moneyball pioneer Billy Beane closed out Information On Demand 2011 in a rollicking conversation with event host Katty Kay. Among the topics were challenging a century-old business culture with business analytics, the risks of standing still and why it's never a good idea to mess with Billy Beane's mom. Turbo's already done a great summary, so I've distilled their conversation into a few key quotes.
On the meaning of Moneyball: 'This was riveting to me. The number crunching was less interesting than what it exposed about the markets people operate in. The people running baseball considered themselves player experts because they'd been doing things the same way for 150 years. And here was Beane recruiting people the market perceived as defective. He was building a juggernaut out of defective parts.'
On bias: 'People tend to overvalue things that are flashy and easy to see. And they tend to undervalue things that are more difficult to see. You need to understand the forces that are clouding your judgement.'
On Beane and his players: 'He had tremendous credibility with the players because he was a great athlete. Being bigger than them also helped. The players were physically intimidated. It was kind of the law of the jungle in the clubhouse – reason imposed by violence.'
On offending Beane's mother because he left in Beane's profanity: 'She said, 'My son doesn't talk like that.' After the book signing I invited her to a two-hour dinner. It was the most awkward conversation I've ever had. I laid on as much charm as I could and got nowhere. She was just as angry with me at the end as at the beginning.'
On the need for change: 'For us it was out of necessity. Where were we going to get the best return on our dollar? We weren't in a position to trust emotion to run our business. We couldn't invest in the romance of the players. We had to be disciplined card counters.'
On taking risks: 'We didn't think it was risky because the math told us we'd be successful. Over enough games we knew we'd weed out the randomness. There was certainly resistance, but there was more risk in not doing it. Going with our gut would have been the most irrational thing to do.'
On Lewis revealing the secret: 'You could see the market was going move. It was just a matter of time. There was already momentum – you could feel the rumblings. You couldn't ignore the fact that the data was everywhere. The secret now is to keep your expertise in-house.'
On outcomes: 'I believe the best teams make it to the playoffs, but the best team doesn't always win the World Series. Small events in a short series can have a bigger impact; we never try to make decisions based on short-term results.'
On being played by Brad Pitt: 'You tend to hold your breath while they're casting the film. When you hear it's Brat Pitt, you exhale.'
Back in the '80s,The Frantics were Canada's answer to Monty Python. One of their recurring bits involved Paul Chato (the geeky one) inventing a new video game. Like Kramer on Seinfeld, he'd burst into the room unannounced and shout, 'Hey guys, it's ready!' Upon hearing the news, the other guys would excitedly jump around the room in a stop-motion homage to 'Neighbors,' the famous 1952 NFB short film by Norman McLaren.
For you, the SMA makes it easier than ever to share in the excitement of Information On Demand. It pulls in conference
tweets, blog posts and photos and presents them on a single page. So, if you're using any or all of the
conference tags: #iod11, #baforum, #imforum or #IBMECM, they'll show up here. The SMA
will also provide live streaming video of the morning general sessions, plus executive keynotes and interviews from the EXPO floor courtesy of Scott and Todd.
Because The Frantics were popular in the 80s, Paul's games looked like the ones you played on your Atari 2600. Because this is 2011, the IOD SMA looks a little better:
Smarter Software means smarter aggregators
What's more, the SMA scans all that content to build real-time tag clouds of trending topics and highlights the conversation leaders who are tweeting and blogging up a storm. Last year, that honor went to raving IBM Cognos 10 fan Cedric deVroey. The last time I checked this year, there was quite the duel shaping up between Christoph Papenfuss and Fraser Anderson. Now that the SMA is out there for the world to enjoy, no doubt we'll see perspectives from outside the firewall in there as well.
The SMA pulls in Tweets automatically, but if you plan on blogging you'll need to create an IBM profile or use the one you already have. From there it's simply a matter of copying and pasting a few feeds. Add any of the tags above in the body of your blog post and it will be picked up automatically to be shared with an audience of thousands. The added bonus of registering is that once you've created your profile you can contribute to any aggregator in the IBM universe.
IOD is is the biggest conference in the IBM software galaxy. Last year more than 10,000 said 'Viva Las Vegas' (a new record) and this year we're expecting even more. With that many people and that much technology coming into contact with each other I foresee no shortage of opinions, insights and - because this is Vegas - maybe the odd joke or two. So, I'll be keeping a close eye on the aggregator throughout the conference to highlight the trending topics, congratulate the conversation leaders and maybe - just maybe - throw in a poll or two.
The buzz is brewing for IOD11 and the SMA is your best place to participate and take it all in. Why not get started now?
The end-of-day update
I couldn't find the Frantics clip in question, so instead I can offer this cool animation. It was also made by Norman McLaren, who could make numbers dance as well as people. Enjoy!
1. Before saving the websheet, make sure Excel calculation mode is set to ‘Manual’.
2. Delete all Rows and Columns beyond the last used cell before saving. Excel does not do a good job in cleaning up and there is no point having web render more than it needs to. Use Excel’s Go To Last Cell feature to find the last used cell. If the Last Cell includes empty rows and columns, delete the unused ones.
3. Use the subsets in the view when creating the Activeform, especially on the rows. This will eliminate the need for Active Form to insert a hidden sheet with the element names.
4. Delete any Named references with #Ref in them, do an Excel find to see if there are any #Ref in cell formula, check for external links and change/delete
5. Keep SUBNM formula to a minimum
6. Dynamic subsets puts a lock on the cubes which the dimension is part of. Use MDX instead.
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