Tag Archives: data

Know what you want before embarking on BI projects

Businesses are facing more sophisticated competition in the market every day and the race is on to constantly deliver higher levels of customer service. Delivering better customer service first requires a greater insight into customers’ preferences and behaviours. Social media is a good source of additional behavioural data. This is a sound basis to develop a strategy for retaining those customers who are best suited to the organisation, while “incentivising” those customers not suited to the business, to switch to the competition.

While many organisations do not know where to start gathering information about their customers, others know exactly where this information resides- hidden in the company’s data and call centre stores and locked in sales and marketing databases, on social media sites and in back-end financial systems.

The irony is that while many organisations possess this information, it is often not usable. Companies that attempt to use this information in its ‘tangled’ format soon give up, pleading ‘data-overload’. Business intelligence (BI) gives organisations the ability to unravel the hidden knowledge in this knotted data and deliver actionable insights to the decision makers.

But implementing a strategy is not a simple task of acquiring some software, pointing it at the relevant stores of data and expecting answers to begin rolling out. In order to achieve success with a BI project a company needs to consider its key business goals and the actions that it needs to take to deliver on these objectives efficiently and effectively. BI provides the bridge between the goals and the performance. For example it delivers the insights required to enhance customer relationships through effective interactions with customers in terms of both content and medium, it streamlines the distribution of goods and services through demand forecasting, or it can reduce risk by predicting fraud or identifying consumer attacks on your brand.

With a clear understanding of how BI will underpin the business’ delivery goals over the long-term, an organisation must ensure that the supporting data has a high level of relevance and integrity and that it is intimately understood. This will ensure that it will be effectively and efficiently interrogated so as to deliver meaningful insights that can be actioned across the organisation, with the resultant outcomes being tracked and measured over time.

Best practise dictates that the company’s customer data is centralized into a single, accessible and useable repository and then analyse it. Sales data should be linked to marketing data and combined with all other data related to customer interaction, including data from back-end financial systems so that a customer centric-view of the customer can be created. This in itself is a huge advantage for the organisation, since it will identify the same customer in all his guises across the organisation’s data stores and present a consolidated view of the company’s transactions and interactions with each unique customer. To further enhance this data as a platform for analysis, it should also be enriched with relevant external market data, including key demographic variables and the like.

Having built the necessary data repository and ascertained the required insights from the analysis function to support the strategy of the business, the analysis should commence with five simple objectives in mind: who; what; why; when and where.

The ‘question’ or ‘end-goal’ could be, for example, to identify: who the ideal customers are after incorporating any hidden costs associated with servicing them. Then one can plan on incentivising or engaging with customers with these same characteristics to begin doing business with the company and encourage the non-ideal customers to move to competitors.

A good first step to this process is to analyse the company’s revenue streams and build an ideal client portfolio around each of those revenue streams, taking into consideration the fixed, variable and hidden costs associated with these revenue streams. It is imperative that the entire organisation is involved in this process.

Sales, social media behavioural data, marketing, manufacturing, procurement, delivery and management input is key to the successful implementation of a BI project and ensures that the results gained from a BI initiative are actionable across the organisation.

It is imperative that the company has the appetite to act on findings. It is pointless embarking on a fact finding mission, like that involved in a BI process, if the business is not prepared to respond to those findings by investing in or re-engineering business processes.

When it comes down to it, BI only presents real value to an organisation if the integrity of the underlying data is sound, the data is intimately understood and the organisation is prepared to action the findings. It is only after “actioning” these findings that the organisation will begin maximising the benefit from attracting and retaining ideal customers, reducing costs and ultimately becoming more profitable.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Google, Internet, Web 2.0

Hard-coding the organisation’s strategy into your Intranet

In the past, Intranets have been, at best, archives of potentially useful information like leave forms and what is on the lunch menu at the cafeteria, covered in a strategic veneer of the organisational vision, mission and values on the landing page. In many organisations, Intranets are mausoleums of unfindable and outdated documents.

With the advent of the interactive web (web 2.0) we have the ability to hard code the organisational strategy into an organic ecosystem which forms the backbone of the enterprise, surfacing knowledge and behaviour in ways impossible before. The secret lies in data modelling.

Because web 2.0 enables employees to engage with the Intranet, they are generating metadata about how they are using the information and connecting with each other. There are a number of data sets that we can combine in the same way that DNA is structured to make the intranet dynamic and far more useful.

These datasets include information from people’s profiles, who they are, what interests them, what they are working on, their key performance areas etc. Other datasets come from the metadata in documents, what they are about, who is creating, reading, updating and commenting on them, the taxonomy how the information is categorised and stored.

When infusing these datasets with meaning, we use data architectures to inculcate the organisational strategies. These architectures are generated by translating the organisational strategy into a matrix configured according to KPI’s and organisational design.

So how do we do this?

We start with the organisational strategy, what is the vision is for where the organisation is going and how it will get there? What products and services it sells, which geographies, where its competitive advantages are, what are its strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats?

Then we examine how the organisation has been configured to do this, what is the organisational design, what are the employees key performance areas, what processes are in place and which technologies are being used?

At a deeper level of granularity, we translate the employee data into profiles from which we get the information about how they deliver on the strategy. Typical data includes variables about where they fit into the organisational structure, what information they need, what tasks they need to perform, the knowledge and skills and experience they have.

The categories of information that employees need to do their work is translated into a taxonomy and site structure which is intuitive and web 2.0 tools, such as wikis and blogs are added to enable them to engage with each other and create read and update information and knowledge.

Making it easy to find what they need is ensured by using semantic and predictive search. This is important because unless employees find the Intranet useful and easy to use, they will not use it.

Next we map the organisational processes for delivery on the strategy and relate them back to the employees using data. We also examine the other tools that we have to hand for data input, such as the technologies which could be integrated including ERP systems etc. Workflow is built into the processes on the Intranet.

Metadata is created for documents, online conversations and behaviours. This can be automated in applications like MS SharePoint 2010, and will feed into the search.

We can also identify additional external datasets which could enhance the employees ability to deliver, such as RSS feeds from the Dow Jones or the latest updates from industry research bodies.

A word of caution

Projects like these should not be undertaken lightly, the development of Intranet strategies can take a couple of months and requires executive commitment.

If the organisation is dysfunctional, or the processes are not optimised, you can wind up coding inefficiencies into the DNA of the organisation.

It is important to ensure that whoever facilitates the development of the strategy is a business minded person who understands how organisations function and be optimised.

Technologist often understand the software and could fit the organisation into the software, where because web 2.0 is all about people, the business must define the technology requirements.

Benefits of this approach

The benefits of this approach are numerous:

  • A data driven approach enables agility within large organisations because as they change, it is possible to code new directions, processes and innovations into the strategic backbone of the enterprise;
  • Communication, information and knowledge can be pushed to employees in a bespoke manner based on their specific requirements.
  • It is possible to create an individually customised view of the Intranet to ensure that employees only see what they need to see which increases the relevance to each employee, and reduces information overload;
  • Knowledge can be created once and used multiple times;
  • Organisational networks can be surfaced for succession planning, and to understand who is networking with whom; and
  • Performance can be managed through an understanding of what individuals are doing.

By using a data driven approach we can now code the strategy and the way we do things into an organic, expanding Intranet and truly drive competitive advantage.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics