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Analytics means agility for midsize companies
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  cognos_express business_analytics midsize
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In our second feature this week, we begin another four-part series exploring the performance challenges facing midsize companies and the role of business analytics software in addressing them for greater competitive advantage.
The strength of a midsize company lies in its agility. It has fewer layers of management and limited bureaucratic processes. It can respond quickly to changing business conditions and switch marketing tactics, cut operating costs or tap into new revenue streams more quickly than bigger companies in their markets.
A streamlined decision-making process can lead to more agility. And in our volatile market, every company needs to move more quickly, regardless of its size. But companies that base rapid-fire decisions on outdated or inaccurate data simply make bad decisions more quickly.
Data quality a nagging problem
Midsize companies are particularly vulnerable to issues of data quality. Their IT departments often have their hands full keeping pace with the deployment of business applications. Rarely is there extra time or budget to create data definitions and enforce business processes that ensure the integrity of a company’s data.
Though data quality issues may be easier to resolve than you think. The IBM white paper Overcome the four IT inhibitors to BI success in midsize companies presents some simple steps midsize companies can take to create and maintain trustworthy business information. The Paper, which features research from Gartner, offers practical strategies that don’t require big budgets or a lot of time. They can even lighten IT’s load. Here are some highlights:
A little more conversation, a little less action
The better the interdepartmental communication, the better the data quality. IT departments can enhance communication company-wide by deploying easy-to-use business analytics applications. Look for self-service business analytics solutions that can be used by anyone -- salespeople, finance managers, marketing assistants – any person who needs to create his or her own reports and analysis. With self-service analytics, business users have easy access to the business information they need -- and IT has less work to do generating reports.
When everyone has access to the same pool of data, there is less room for error and misunderstanding. There is also less likelihood that turf wars impact data quality. Information is no longer gathered independently and stored by different departments in isolated spreadsheets. People have faster access to the information they need so they can spend more time analyzing data and formulating business strategy. Plus, they don’t have to waste time justifying their version of the truth.
Make the technology do the work
Midsize companies should look for business analytics solutions that include reporting, analysis and planning capabilities that are integrated in one solution. Midsize companies don’t need to tackle all of these tasks at once, but they should have an easy and clear path for growth as their business analytics needs become more sophisticated.
The benefit of a single, integrated solution is that it enforces data standardization and consistency. It creates the necessary baseline for reliable and effective information sharing across departments. There is no need to spend extra time or effort enforcing best practices for data standardization because it is automatically done for you.
The big guys make mistakes too
Of course, even big companies with big budgets are not immune to bad decision-making. New Coke came out 25 years ago this week. So take some comfort by reading Fast Company’s When Bad Products Happen to Big Companies for a list of some colossal big-company flops. And remember what your mother (or business school professors) always told you -- we often learn best from our failures.