Greg Todd thanks Shari Rogalski for her contribution to this month's column.

My client, a successful family-owned business, had enjoyed double-digit growth year after year and was holding its own during volatile economic times. However, they recognized that business as usual will no longer be sufficient. To continue to grow in a challenging economy, things are going to have to change.

The landscape is different now, and a new order of business is emerging. Fresh skill sets are required as organizations are forced to think more quickly and act differently. There is no guarantee of success for anyone moving forward.

It is no longer about using or transforming data on the way into a warehouse; it's about learning to exploit information in such a way that an organization's strategy can be impacted or even changed on the fly if necessary. It is the difference between looking at how and why something happened so as to not repeat your behavior, versus predicting what might happen and changing your behavior proactively.

High performers have learned to do this; they are thinking beyond the recession and have already positioned themselves for growth so they can sustain it and move ahead once the economy improves.

Coming out of this volatile environment, companies will need to continue to reduce costs and risk, increase agility and quality, and differentiate themselves from their competition. Managing information as a strategic asset will be a means to this end, with organizations looking to leverage prepackaged "in-a-box" capabilities (e.g., industry-specific content, approaches, accelerators, standards) to improve their operational excellence, while using "out-of-the-box" thinking to achieve differentiation and high performance.

Analytics as Enabler

Analytics capabilities can be applied to transform a specific function or business process to derive insights, inform decision-making and improve services that will drive growth regardless of the industry. It is never just about the data, but about what an organization can do with it.

Organizations are experiencing the pressures of increasing volumes, rapid technology advancements and new sources of data and, as such, require more sophisticated capabilities that can maintain operational excellence while escalating innovation and growth. This is critical in light of studies showing that high performance is closely tied with the extensive and sophisticated use of analytics capabilities. Accenture found that high-performance businesses are 50 percent more likely to use analytics strategically compared with the overall sample, and five times more likely than low performers.

Companies must have the capability to transform data into timely and valuable knowledge by deploying analytics solutions that enable smart decision-making. As an example, we worked with a large insurance company to develop an innovative business intelligence solution that led to cost savings of $1.3 million. The project included the centralization of data from disparate sources and a focus on prioritized metrics that helped drive cost savings, speed to market and improved decision-making. This significantly improved underwriters' efficiency and the claims management and policy administration functions.

In-a-Box Capabilities

Organizations gain accelerated business results through in-a-box applications that:

  • Allow them to scale fast through the use of standardized approaches;
  • Reduce their total cost of ownership by standardizing their BI environment, integrating siloed reporting capabilities and rationalizing the mix of technologies that comprise their information management environments;
  • Improve productivity, increase business value, mitigate risk and lower cost of implementation with the use of industrialized assets, including automated development tools and reusable architecture components;
  • Reduce software and staffing costs and increase speed to market while improving delivery metrics through the use of BI competency centers.

Manage Information as a Strategic Asset

Surviving the recession hardly ensures a company's success going forward. As a prospective client recently asked me, "Isn't the strategy supposed to drive what we do [in information management]?"

"Yes," I told him, "But as you start pushing the envelope and thinking about and using your information differently, you might actually change your strategy based on the information you're now analyzing."

It is a message organizations need to hear.

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