Monday Jan 27, 2014

Missed Opportunities: Changing the Way You Think About BI Can Open up a World of “Easy Wins”

Verdant is one of our PLM Preferred Sponsors of the 2014 Oracle Value Chain Summit. Attending the Summit? Be sure to visit Verdant at Booth #104 and learn more about Verdant's expertise in the blog below, authored by Wes Frierson, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Verdant.


As least as far as Enterprise software goes, dashboards can be pretty sexy stuff.  What else gets your colleagues and management as excited as some gorgeous dashboards? Taking a complex tangle of information, transforming it, then exposing it in bite-size chunks that you can actually get your arms around—who could argue with that value? That’s why those dashboards are the “poster children” for Business Intelligence value.

But for all the obvious “in-your-face” value these analytics demonstrate, there is a less obvious–but equally valuable—application of Business Intelligence that people have a much more difficult time seeing. When starting work with new clients, we see time and again situations where big opportunities to use BI-based solutions to problems are being missed. What are these companies doing wrong? The issue can be boiled down to the narrow way in which these technologies inside these companies. Broadening the way you apply BI tools (and broadening the types of problems you attack with them) can add immense value to your business and your PLM investment.  Here are a few things we talk about with our customers to help teach them how find these easy wins.

Don’t look for reports. Look for business problems

Ok, it’s a cliché, but I’ll start with it because it’s a bad habit that plays out every single day. Many opportunities are missed because people just don’t see certain things as “reporting issues.” I would be surprised if I said the words, “Could that be an integrated report?” anything less than 200 times last year as we talked through pain points and solutions with customers. And, in all but a handful of cases, that was indeed the best answer or at least the most practical answer to the issue. But, in each case, leveraging a BI-based solution had not been considered because the projected solution had already been cast as “an integration,” “a product gap,” or “a custom app.”

So many business issues and adoption pains are really about visibility when you get down to it—and that is what BI does best. The trick is throwing away the traditional bias about where and how you apply these tools. Sometime it’s an issue of not knowing what these tools can really do (past the standard stuff); more often it’s just not considering the more “creative” ways of applying these powerful technologies. Once people get the hang of solving problems this way, they quickly re-orient themselves and see opportunity everywhere!

Don’t wait

We’re fortunate to get the opportunity to advise a lot of customers on their PLM roadmaps to help them get value as quickly as possible. Often—as a start—they will show us their current plans. About 80% of the time, the plan has pushed much of the reporting or analytics needs later in the plan (and often as its own independent “follow-on” phase). The conventional wisdom seems to be, “Once we get done deploying a bunch of this stuff, then we can figure out what we want to pull out.” This is big mistake.

BI should not be some separate set of activities and requirements and definitely should not be deferred until the end. Not only does it postpone value unnecessarily, lack of investment in reporting and analytics early on creates a “value gap” for users that slows adoption. Your users want to see a “give and take” when they are asked to adopt new software solutions. Putting off investment in BI often leaves people feeling like they are being asked to do a lot of new things without a lot of visible payoff.

Make it seamless

Ideally, reporting should embedded, contextual (“1-click”), and invisible wherever possible. The idea that you go somewhere and “run a report” is antiquated and part of what limits the potential and appeal of these solutions. Sometimes the most valuable solutions we deliver are not seen as “reporting” by users. They often mistake them as customizations to the core application. It’s just an answer to a problem, and if designed properly it should be a totally natural extension to what they are doing.

“Thinking small” should be part of your BI strategy

These BI-based solutions don’t have to be large, or complex, or solve 50 different problems. They simply need to link an idea, fill a gap, provide context, show an insight, etc. I’ve seen very powerful BI output that simply pop up in HTML and contain about 6 pieces of information. While simple, the solution brought a critical piece of context from another system in a single click. When deployed, everyone immediately saw that this solution made perfect sense, but they had suffered with nothing for years because the business issue was initially categorized as “an integration need” and deferred. By thinking about the problem differently, it was solved in a day or so and at very low cost (with tools they already had in house).

Final Thought

So many issues are put off, lived with, or worked around when the answer is often pretty straightforward (if you change your point of view just a few degrees). We work with customers on a range of needs throughout the lifecycle of their software investments, and I can tell you that the effort and money spent on BI are often the most valuable. Seldom can you draw a line between the investment and the value as clearly as you can with a single BI asset. We’ve seen BI-driven solutions—some that take as little as a day to develop—turn whole business processes upside-down (in a good way!).

Come by the Verdant booth at OVCS (#104 in the PLM User Experience Area) and talk to us about PLM, Business Intelligence, Super Bowl commercials, or whatever else is on your mind. The Verdant Team and I would love to talk to you about your business.

Tuesday Jan 29, 2013

Visit PLM XL by Xavor at the Oracle Value Chain Summit!

PLM XL by Xavor is one of our PLM Preferred Sponsors of the upcoming Oracle Value Chain Summit. Attending the Summit? Be sure to visit PLM XL by Xavor--and learn more about them in the guest blog below. 


Visit PLM XL by Xavor at the Oracle Value Chain Summit!

by Meghan Ryan, Marketing Manager, PLM XL by Xavor

If you attended last year’s Summit and saw the PLM XL mobile app, providing access to Agile from iPhones (and now iPad) devices for ECO approvals, stop by our station this year!  See what we’ve developed to add to the functionality of this OVI-certified app, as well as new productivity tools including Assist+, One-Click Collaborate, ECO Dashboard, BOM Creation, Approval Matrix, Flex Key and more apps that speed up routine processes, and reduce errors.

On Tuesday evening after the Networking Reception, we will be hosting an industry dinner for those in the semiconductor and high-tech space. This will be an opportunity to meet with your peers, discuss the morning keynote and share your thoughts about the sessions that day. If you would like more information, email us at events @plmxl.com as this is an invitation-only event.

Our team at PLM XL by Xavor is looking forward to meeting with you in San Francisco next week! We will be at demo pod #129. For more information, please call us at 800-949-5719 or visit us at www.plmxl.com.

Tuesday Dec 06, 2011

Making the Right Product Decisions Even Better

It’s a common problem – more information adds complexity spanning several dimensions: Where did it come from, and where should it go? How do you organize it? Who needs to know, react, deliver?  How do you respond and what are the implications of each option?  Do you even know everything you should?  What is missing?  Is it accurate?

Yes, the multitude of today’s data can be massively overwhelming without the right plan in place to synthesize it.  Bluntly, not having the right handle on data as a company can be downright disastrous!  As companies continuously generate and collect data, it grows increasingly difficult to comprehensively take the correct information to the next level:  the best decisive action.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), like most applications, generates many data points about product performance every day.  Using best-in-class solutions like Oracle’s Agile PLM to consolidate data, streamline processes, and connect all aspects of a product network to speed time to market provides extremely valuable results for a business looking to achieve a competitive advantage through profitable innovation. 

But take a step back and consider: what would an executive level analysis of all the activity inside your PLM solutions reveal about your business?  Consider being able to glance at a dashboard of charts and graphs tailored to your business, instantly gather deep insight into product performance, and then make the best decisive action.

The Oracle Product Lifecycle Analytics solution enables companies to gain actionable insight into large volumes of product lifecycle data from all operations and entities, exposing critical trends and metrics that enable business users at all levels to make key product decisions. With increased visibility into the new product development pipeline, product risks, and quality trends, companies can make the most informed product investment decisions, mitigate new product risks, increase responsiveness to product complaints, and improve customer satisfaction.

Oracle Product Lifecycle Analytics is making headlines as today’s complexity increases.  Gary Swanson, VP of Corporate Quality at Herbalife speaks in a webcast in early December 2011 about how his company leverages the solution to support major corporate initiatives around innovation.  Swanson spoke at Oracle OpenWorld 2011, and even accepted Herbalife’s 2011 Consumer Goods Industry Excellence Award for Product Innovation.  Also, you can check out the Oracle Product Lifecycle Analytics data sheet for more specific details, and view this YouTube video about “Turning Innovation into a Competitive Advantage” by making the right decisions about your products.

Making the right decision at the right time depends a lot on the information available.  Empowering decision-makers at all levels of the business with the most accurate, relevant data in a timely manner is critical to success no matter what product you bring to market.  Deploying quickly with rapid ROI, Oracle Product Lifecycle Analytics delivers sophisticated analysis to drive performance excellence and improve customer satisfaction.

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