The most talked about analytic application of business intelligence technology is customer relationship management (CRM). But ask a CEO what keeps him or her up at night, and meeting quarterly financial targets will more likely be at the top of the list than the nuances of customer relationships. While CRM is important to a business, the success of the organization is more than just keeping successful customer relationships ­ it's about making sure the overall business is operating efficiently.

How does a CEO make sure the business is running on all cylinders? His likely guidepost is the business plan or forecast against which he can constantly ask if the organization is on track to meet revenue goals. If it's not on track, he asks why it is not. The answer is likely to involve a combination of issues and departments that affect overall performance, not just the customer chain. Thus, calibrating business performance against plans is central to just about every operation in the company ­ procurement, manufacturing, inventory, logistics management and more. It is the communication link that binds sales, marketing, finance, operations and other departments. Updating forecasts helps to calibrate performance, enabling decision-makers to make the business- critical adjustments necessary to meet plan goals.

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