Executives must confront an unsettling reality in the era of digital business: despite growing volumes of data and increasingly sophisticated tools to analyze activities and events, unlocking answers to key questions remains daunting.
The irony isn't lost on anyone. Yet, becoming a real-time data-driven company can prove elusive. Better decision-making and fully optimized processes don't just happen because an organization focuses on data, or puts sophisticated tools in place.
It's no longer acceptable to spend weeks or months poring over data to glean its significance. Customers, partners, and employees expect answers immediately—and they increasingly demand that the actions stemming from data are personalized and relevant. All this requires big data analytics capabilities that are only possible with a strategic, integrated IT infrastructure. Agility and flexibility are paramount.
The organizations that do successfully mine their data see tremendous benefits—and competitive advantage. According to a study conducted by the Business Application Research Center (BARC), more than 40% of businesses globally are using data analytics to mine the intelligence from the enormous amounts of data they can now collect. Overall, these businesses reported an 8% increase in revenue combined with a 10% reduction in costs. They cited four key areas where business sees the biggest benefits:
One company that achieved best practice results is Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Data growth and demands grew too great for the company's legacy system, which couldn't deliver the information hotel managers and administrators required at the moment it was needed. In addition, obtaining a report from the central reservation system could take upwards of 18 hours, according to Richard Chung, director of data integration for Starwood.
The company, which operates 1,200 properties in nearly 100 countries and 200,000 employees, transitioned to Oracle Exadata Database Machine running on Oracle Linux. The result? The company can now complete extract, transform, and load (ETL) operations for business reports in 4 to 6 hours. Moreover, real-time data feeds, which were previously impossible, have led to process improvements as great as 288x.
Starwood isn't alone. Icelandic IT services firm Advania figured out how to generate business and financial reports 70 percent faster while improving employee productivity. The company, with more than 10,000 clients scattered across 17 offices in Scandinavia, was previously limited by an old ERP system and legacy IT. However, by migrating to Oracle E-Business Suite and consolidating hardware platforms through Oracle SuperCluster on Oracle Solaris, with an Oracle database, the firm not only unleashed faster and better decision-making, it improved performance for customers.
Retail giant 7-Eleven also transformed its data capabilities by revamping technology and processes. The company selected an engineered platforms from Oracle, including Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Fusion Middleware, to create a private cloud. This allows the company to connect with 8,500 locations and 8 million daily customers in real time. In fact, 7-Eleven can now personalize and contextualize interactions with customers. "We can understand what people are buying and how their behaviors are being changed when they are given offers," said chief technology and digital officer Steve Holland.
Dialing Into Disruption
Here's what you should keep in mind: data—or more specifically how it's used—is increasingly a point of competitive differentiation. It separates the digital innovators and disruptors from everyone and everything else. Yet reporting tools, analytics software and even leading-edge artificial intelligence systems can't transform coal into diamonds. There's a need to construct a framework that can deliver real-time business insights along with a single view into the enterprise.
Although much of the task involves rethinking and reinventing processes, something McKinsey & Company explores in an excellent article about how to develop a data-driven strategy, there's also a need for a fast, flexible and responsive IT platform—one that taps clouds, virtualization, and advanced technical capabilities—to slide the dial to real-time.
For organizations that succeed in constructing a robust data-driven framework, one in which business leaders can view the right data in real time, the answers to pressing business questions become visible. More importantly, innovation and disruption become possible.
There's More to Learn About Driving Innovation Through Data. Join Us at Oracle OpenWorld 2017.
There’s a wealth of exciting and enlightening sessions at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. If you want to learn more about gaining a data-driven advantage, we think you’ll find these sessions especially worthwhile: