ProjectBy Baselinemag | Posted 2007-03-07 Print
Business process improvements, customer relationship management and business analytics are high on CIOs' to-do lists this year.#3: Business Analytics/Business Intelligence">
Project #3: Business Analytics/Business Intelligence
Participants: I.T. extracts the data; business analyzes it.
Price tag: A big-company project could easily run into the millions.
Time line: From a few days to a year or more.
A lot of success in business is contingent on analyzing what's happening and formulating strategies about how to respond. Wouldn't it be great if we could transform the data at our companies into real information?
That is the promise of business analytics software, which sucks the data from a company's disparate systems—the I.T. part—and passes it on to business users for analysis.
It is no simple task. The data at many companies resides in systems that are 20 to 30 years old. The extract, transform and load process that does the initial work is far from infallible, even with the help of software from firms like Informatica, Cognos and Ab Initio.
Given the potential payoff, though, it's not surprising that companies keep trying—often by limiting the scope of the projects they're taking on. For instance, Progressive Medical, a $150 million insurance-industry broker in Westerville, Ohio, expects this year to combine internal data with industry data to determine how it measures up in key categories such as processing time per claim and cost per claim. "We're also trying to provide a next-level reporting mechanism for our customers," allowing them to see for themselves how much they're saving by working with Progressive, says chief information officer Angelo Mazzocco.
The "think small" approach is also smart for big companies. Consultant Curran says a telecommunications company might see what it could learn about the success of a pricing plan by having "a couple of I.T. guys and biz guys" look at a few customers in one state. "You do a proof of concept before you build a multimillion-dollar project."
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