Decisions made by C-Level executives today are still determined by leveraging legacy business intelligence (BI) solutions that report data via dashboards and historical snapshots. While traditional BI solutions provide immense value by bringing vital analytics to bear on core business functions and processes, there is nothing real-time about them.
They are also missing some key intel – knowledge that is likely available in the terabytes of data stored in the organization’s IT operations applications. Most organizations today can benefit from operationalizing their BI. Your managed services provider (MSP) can help with this.
To start, let’s take a look at what we mean by “operationalizing”.
While much insight can be gleaned from the operational systems that run the organization, that insight tends to remain isolated to the business function where it originated. As a result, there is no understanding of how a decision or an action will ripple across the organization.
Fortunately, traditional BI can be enhanced by adding an operational component that can facilitate actionable changes from within the BI solution itself. This provides line of business managers with a tool to deliver promised results consistently, quarter after quarter.
What Executives Need
To make strategic decisions and ensure that the entire organization – finance, operations, marketing, supply and so on – is aligned, executives need timely access to accurate information. They need an enterprise-wide solution that enables them to analyze and collaborate on the right decisions.
Operations-aware business intelligence plays a crucial role here. It provides an environment that can inform adjustments to the course of the future operational direction based on current performance.
This ability to synchronize and fine-tune planning of operations provides a more accurate view of how decisions impact the organization and how an enterprise can make the most of its BI investments.
Allowing the BI solution to direct operational decisions compresses the time spent on decision making and makes it possible to adjust to changing market conditions in real time. You can continuously adjust the future operational direction based on the analysis and monitoring of current performance.
Expanding the Role of the MSP
So where does your MSP fit into this picture? Any business leader reading the preceding paragraphs will likely agree with the logic, but also realize that only the largest corporations will have the capacity to dedicate staff to integrate operations intel into the paradigm.
Ironically, small to midsize businesses would have the most to gain, given that they have smaller margins and limited reserves to insulate them from market and operational volatility.
If this sounds like your organization, don’t overlook the possibility that your MSP can contribute as a business consultant. The traditional view of an MSP is often someone who keeps your business services up and running – the outsourced mechanics of your organization. But it’s time to start thinking of them as a resource far beyond that.
Given that the value of BI can be a multiplier by establishing a seamless integration of actual and planning data to produce an on-demand view of the business, it makes sense to leverage the resources – including your MSP – already at your disposal.
Leveraging Specialized Skill Sets
Your MSP can bring a specialized skill set, both technical and functional, that may not be native to your organization. Keep in mind that they have dozens of clients facing the same challenges that you are.
They have the depth to add resources (i.e., people) to existing staff as necessary to meet your requirements.
If you’re starting from scratch, your MSP can mentor your business teams through the BI process from design through implementation to adoption with continuing support. Or they can provide the expertise to take your current solution and add the operational feedback needed to make it truly transformative. Then, while the planning is underway, they can moderate discussions among your organization’s leadership about business plans and goals.
They most certainly will help you prioritize. In fact, they will be able to shed light on the level of effort that will be required to meet your goals. No budget in any business is bottomless, a reality that usually is more keenly felt in small to midsize firms. Level of difficulty often maps to level of expense. And, your pace of transformation should be set according to available funds.
Your MSP can share successes and lessons learned from helping other clients. This can go a long way in getting “buy in” from all the business units and departments.
Putting IT at the Core of Business
Many CIOs and other IT leaders are very concerned that their IT department is not aligned with the overall business. By operationalizing your BI solution and embracing the concept that BI works best when it’s enterprise wide, it also puts your IT organization at the core of your business, where it belongs.
The ability to automate the end-to-end business process of analysis, decision review and approval through actual execution is essential to operationalizing BI. This, in turn, leads to the ability to update plans and create “what-if” scenarios on the fly based on evolving business conditions. Goals such as raising customer service levels or identifying new revenue opportunities can be more easily quantified within this holistic approach.
A single decision-centric analytic solution can provide an immense competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Given that your MSP is already working hard to integrate and streamline your services, letting them lead the project to operationalize your BI will be a smart move.