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!
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
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
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).
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.