Spending two years and two million dollars to implement an on-premises management information system has been an all too common experience for companies looking to implement data-driven decision processes. This price tag (News - Alert) for upfront fixed costs of infrastructure equipment and software is a significant barrier for small to medium-sized enterprises seeking to tap into the rich data flow of their business transactions.
Fortunately, advances in computer and database technologies, coupled with cloud based platforms, are leveling the information playing field. Disruptive technology trends are lowering barriers to accessing, moving and transforming data. The walls between IT, Business Intelligence and Analytics silos, are coming down and cloud based technology is a crucial component.
Big Data Analytics No Longer Optional
To be successful in today’s markets, companies can no longer afford to manage based on past experience or gut instinct. Big Data analytics in the form of accessing and analyzing transactional business and social media data is becoming table stakes to compete effectively in our increasingly connected and data driven markets. Using analytics to spot emerging trends early and zeroing in on customer micro-segments is opening up new market opportunities for businesses large and small. Smaller companies are able to play on a larger field and large companies now have visibility into local market niches that might have escaped their notice previously.
With adoption of software as a service delivered through cloud based systems, data is becoming more standardized, enabling easier integration of operational system data into data warehouse, reporting and analytics systems that can be implemented in a cloud environment. No more expensive IT infrastructure for local hosting. No more ETL developers, warehouse managers. Cloud based integrators do the dirty work for you and leverage the overhead across clients. Your analysts can spend more time analyzing and less time shoveling data.
In the communications industry, there is a concept of the last mile which refers to the final leg of the network to the customer’s premises. The limited capacity of the last mile segment determines the customer experience and what can be delivered to them. Advances in communications technology are dramatically increasing the capacity of the last mile to the customer.
In a similar manner, cloud technology coupled with advances in computer power and cheaper data storage are increasing the capacity of the backbone to deliver high volume, variety and velocity data to the desktop. But if attention is not paid to the integration of processes and the last mile delivery system of reporting and analytics, managers risk being flooded with more data and information than they are capable of acting on.
The critical solution to making the last mile manageable is integration of IT, Business Intelligence and Analytics through a cost-effective platform. Data should flow seamlessly from its source through ETL processes and reporting systems to the Desktop. With so many of today’s sources of business data already housed in the cloud, Integrators are taking advantage of standardization and efficiencies in cloud computing to offer on-demand, anytime, anywhere access to information so analysts can get what they need when they need it to drive better decisions.
However, cloud-based deployments do not come without challenges. While more and more businesses in the future will migrate to cloud-based systems, most businesses today will have a mix of cloud and premised-based systems. Deciding whether to integrate the data in the cloud in house, creating secure channels for the data flows, and stitching together the disparate data models and data types of the different mediums, are major challenges that require new forms of expertise and processes. For example, some legacy enterprise systems, such as billing systems and ERP systems, may be proprietary and require customized interfaces. Companies will need to commit to examining core business process and organization structure in order to capitalize on opportunities to monetize their business data generated in house or in the cloud.
Integration and connectivity are here to stay and companies that don’t tackle the challenge of re-invention will find themselves locked in inertia and shipwrecked on the island of status quo.
About the Authors
Kathy Williams Chiang is VP, Business Insights, at Wunderman Data Management. Andrew Roman Wells is the CEO of Aspirent, a management-consulting firm focused on analytics. They are the co-authors of Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions. For more information, please visit www.monetizingyourdata.com.
Edited by Alicia Young