Jane Griffin and Forrest Danson 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Analytics and the Cloud — the Future is Here Financial executives focus on improving the company’s bottom line. To do that, they need information. They need insight and, perhaps most importantly, they need the foresight to look around the corner and consistently predict what might happen over multiple time horizons. One tool that many forwardlooking companies are using to gain better insight and foresight into the business is analytics. However, the methods by which analytics is deployed throughout the enterprise are in flux. There is no onesize- fits-all method to bring analytics to the organization. To deploy effectively, it is critical to examine options and make decisions based on the information needs of the multiple constituencies throughout the enterprise. One option that many leading companies are choosing to deploy analytics — or at least a subset of analytics capability — is the cloud. Cloud computing isn’t new. Remote access to applications, platforms and infrastructure has been a staple of corporate information technology operations for at least three decades. However, today the difference is in the scale and effectiveness with which cloud computing can be implemented. Operating in the cloud means that companies have some or all of their applications, platforms and infrastructure offsite and managed by someone else. The cloud can give companies both cost and logistical advantages. And due to three disruptive forces that are coalescing for many companies these days, they will likely need these advantages. Big Data, enhanced mobility and business-oriented social media can change the way business is done on a global scale. They will likely rewrite the rules of how businesses operate and how they interact with customers. More and more companies are beginning to realize the importance of the cloud to their future information technology strategies. A recent Deloitte survey, Mid-market Perspectives: 2012 Report on America’s Economic Engine, reports that 40 percent of mid-market companies think that leveraging the cloud will be an integral part of their ongoing IT strategy in 2012 and beyond. This is up 38 percent from 2011. To deal with the explosion of data, to respond to increased demands for mobility options and to leverage the power of social media, companies are recognizing the potential of the cloud. HOW THE CLOUD HANDLES THE DISRUPTIONS Big Data, mobility and the emergence of social media as a powerful tool to gauge and influence customer sentiment are powerful forces in and of themselves. However, when they come together, they can be truly disruptive to business as usual. Smart managers can leverage combinations of these forces to improve their present operations and build a solid foundation for achievement of company goals. ■ Analytics on Big Data Loves the Cloud Big Data is all the rage right now, and the term is apt. The volume of data that inundates companies on a daily basis is growing exponentially. The velocity, variety and complexity of that data is mushrooming as well. Just to keep up, companies must process and analyze these incredibly complex data sets that consist of both structured and unstructured data. Analytics is one key to effectively leveraging Big Data, and the relationship is interdependent. It’s an old statistical axiom that the larger the data sample, the more precise the measurements can be. Larger data sets provide users with the ability to apply analytical techniques such as predictive and prescriptive modeling to make better, more consistent decisions. However, the cost of handling big data can be enormous. That’s where the cloud comes in. Leveraging the cloud gives companies that all-important tool — financial control. By utilizing the cloud, they can more easily control their cost of ownership. By putting their data and analytics capabilities in the cloud, companies can more readily deploy the analytics they need, when they need them, only using the platforms and infrastructure they require, as the needs of the business dictate. The cloud service provider bears the brunt of operational complexities while companies pay for only those services they need to run their business. That can give companies more cost certainty — or at least the ability to predict costs based on forecasted needs. A recent joint report from Deloitte and Financial Executives Research Foundation, Leveling the Playing Field, examines how the accessibility of analytics in the cloud can level the playing field for mid-sized companies, helping them compete with larger companies in a cost-effective manner by better understanding their customers, operations and overall business. ■ Mobility is Enhanced via the Cloud Mobile solutions have moved beyond simple tools to fuel enhanced customer service and business innovation. Mobility can help company staff get — and act on — information more quickly so that they can understand what’s happening in the business and react to it in near real time, irrespective of physical location. For example, one professional sports team deployed a mobile analytics solution to improve its customer service ability — especially on game days. The team’s management positioned staff throughout the arena to observe customer behavior and spot potential issues such as uneven gate traffic and dissatisfied customers. With mobile technology, the staffers were able to open and close gates and concessions as needs dictated, thus keeping operating costs down. They were also able to address customer issues and complaints before they became intractable problems, thus increasing customer satisfaction. Operating in the cloud can give these individuals the ability to access the consistent data they need, when they need it, regardless of physical location or device. To be sure, data security is a concern when workers aren’t in traditional offices — locked behind a firewall — but savvy cloud providers have effectively addressed this issue. ■ Leveraging Social Media via the Cloud Social media has become increasingly important to business as a predictor of customer sentiment. It has moved from customer curiosity to enterprise priority. It can help connect human networks for information, decision- making and actions that drive the bottom line. As customers adopt connective technology, they build and participate in interconnected networks that, if leveraged properly, can provide deep insight into customer sentiment that has previously been unavailable. Leading companies are moving beyond traditional social networks to simply “meet” their customers. They are using the power of people networks to find people who have shared passions and making customer experiences meaningful for them. This endeavor to customize customer experiences can help the bottom line. Just as social networks enabled change in the social stratum, bringing social media into the enterprise can help companies deliver a better customer experience, which can increase revenues and customer satisfaction. The cloud is an ideal vehicle to drive the adoption of social media in a business context. Cloud computing can enhance social business by helping companies span the enterprise ecosystem to embrace stakeholders, functions and interactions to impact the end-to-end value chain. They can do this without being tethered by time and place. LOOKING PAST THE DISRUPTIONS: THE POST-DIGITAL ENTERPRISE The convergence of Big Data, mobility and social business is changing the way businesses can and do respond to customers’ needs and expectations. The post-digital enterprise focuses not on data, but on the customers who generate the data. Those companies that realize the value of these disruptive forces can take the lead, while others will lag. IT can be challenged to step up in order to operate in this environment. In the post-digital enterprise, Big Data can facilitate the transition from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive analytics. Decision-making can be based on real-time insights based on customer sentiment and this can drive new business imperatives to find and satisfy the right customers. Also in the post-digital enterprise, mobility can help workers better understand and respond to customer needs regardless of location or device. Customers can also expect to reap the benefits of mobility — with connectivity and interaction on their personal device. This can require a greater IT reach and the willingness to form an almost symbiotic relationship with customers. Social media will likely be at the very core of business in this era. Savvy companies can understand how to leverage the various social media outlets to more effectively examine and measure customer sentiment and create a more customized customer experience that can be filtered through the lens of social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and other, still unknown outlets. In this environment, customers often drive the interactions and companies may need to be able to meet their needs almost before they’re made known. The cloud will likely be at the heart of companies’ ability to survive in the post-digital enterprise environment. Static business ecosystems of the past will likely have to transform into dynamic customer value chains that give companies the ability to respond to customer demands at literally a moment’s notice — and to predict those demands before they happen. By utilizing the cloud, companies can gain the flexibility, scalability and cost control they need to meet current demand and to make changes based on predicted future demand. That’s a win-win situation. Jane Griffin (email@example.com) is the Analytics Canada and America’s practice leader and the former Deloitte Analytics and national service line leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP Information Management practice. Forrest Danson, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org), is the U.S. Analytics practice leader.
Published by Financial Executive . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/Tech+Strategy+/1224010/132281/article.html.