Next generation Business Intelligence is rapidly being accepted as the critical tool for business success, says Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager of LGR Telecommunications.
Knowledge is power, and never more so than now, when access to the right insights from the relevant data can make the critical difference between business success and failure.
Across the continent, organisations of all sizes are turning to next generation Business Intelligence (BI) tools to assist them in harnessing the knowledge residing in vast amounts of data, and put the resulting insights to use as a competitive differentiator. We see this in particular in the mobile space, where operators across Africa face declining voice revenues and seek new revenue streams in an increasingly competitive environment. Detailed understanding of the customer, the environment, competitors’ behaviour and internal operations is critical for making the strategic decisions that support growth.
Driving this dramatic increase in the need for advanced BI tools are a number of influencing factors. The proliferation of data, social media, mobility, consumerisation and the growing need for enterprise agility are forcing rapid change in businesses’ approach to BI.
In the past, BI was employed to analyse historic patterns and data residing within the enterprise to understand operations and customer behaviour. However, the pace of change has intensified. Thanks to the power of global social media networks, change now takes place in minutes. Disruptive influences skew what were once predictable patterns in a matter of days, or even minutes. Now, business must be constantly aware of changing market forces and customer sentiments, and must be able to refocus and change direction accordingly. This level of business agility can only be informed by next generation BI.
To tap in to the unprecedented wealth of information residing within social media networks, enterprises need next generation BI delivering advanced analytics capability. While enterprise data may tell the historical story, social media analysis allows the enterprise to get accurate insights into customer sentiment and external market conditions as they change. The ability to adapt in line with new trends will be key to business success in future, and enterprises are aware of this.
The need to incorporate social media data into BI presents the Big Data challenge. In addition to social media, enterprises must now have the capability to analyse competitor movements, email and other digital communications, location-based data and more. As the volume, variety and velocity of Big Data increases, advanced Big Data tools will become increasingly necessary to manage vast amounts of structured and unstructured data.
Africa is a mobile continent, with individuals and enterprises leapfrogging landline and moving directly to high speed mobile connectivity. In line with this shift, enterprises need dashboards that deliver on-the-go access to critical business and market information allowing them to make key decisions faster. C-level executives now want the ability to interrogate figures on the move, and so gain a competitive advantage.
In line with the move to mobile, simplified, more intuitive data visualisation tools are increasingly in demand, allowing users to assess status at a glance, and drill down into relevant content on even small screens. With the advent of tablets and consumerisation changing the enterprise computing space, enterprises across Africa are demanding full functionality on their smart mobile devices; they want to talk to the figures more.
Avoiding BI disappointment
It is crucial to embark on a future-proof BI strategy by asking: ‘how do we do business and what data do we want from our systems?’ .
Many companies have disappointed in their BI implementations in the past, frequently because their strategies have been poor or because they were not asking the right questions at the outset.
They need to take stock of what equipment and solutions they already have in place, assessing their current infrastructure and whether it properly supports advanced BI tools. They need to understand how mature their business processes are, whether they are capable of supporting BI. Defining the key business endpoint is a good start. By beginning with a broad understanding of where you are and where you want to move to, you will be in a position to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve your goals.