Lori Ellsworth, SVP and GM Compuware Changepoint
Global data, according to a McKinsey report, is increasing by 40 percent annually whilst IT spend is only at 5% – presenting companies with a significant data challenge. While it comes as no secret to services organisations and business leaders that Big Data and Analytics are two of today’s hottest technology topics, what remains a challenge is how to translate them into real business value. The enormous volumes of data being generated has huge potential to be leveraged for business intelligence insights; but services businesses can only achieve this if they become true data-driven organisations.
For services organisations, Big Data and Analytics offer three significant new channels of revenue if they can unlock their secrets. Firstly, it gives services leaders the chance to elevate their roles to that of a thought leader. Secondly, with Big Data, customers will be actively looking for new solutions that allow them to derive value from their data. Thirdly, Big Data is driving demand for new business roles and new areas of business expertise, allowing services companies to broaden the services they offer.
Management by spreadsheet to analytics
Collecting and aggregating data into a single cohesive set from multiple, disparate systems, projects and applications requires an innovative and advanced approach. For services teams to really make use of their data, they must be able to mine its gold from within. To do this, more and more services teams are looking towards single analytics platforms which can then be embedded into their core operational systems; this enables them to understand and refine their data for more accurate analysis from one single source.
For large, global services teams with complex infrastructures, ‘management by spreadsheet’ is no longer a sustainable business strategy. What is needed is a better method to mine their data and improve management of information throughout the business. Having access to sophisticated analytics within a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution provides services organisations with the tools to do just this – indeed, the ability to access this information from within a PSA solution is becoming essential.
Complexity demands sophistication
In a simple environment, a services organisation might be collecting data and sorting average metrics on defined, manageable data sets; such as comparing revenue, margin or headcount, by time-frame, product and customer demographics to identify trends. But in today’s dynamic business environment, analytics can become very complex for services organisations drawing data from multiple projects and applications, and in various different formats. Collating this data into a single set for analysis is an intricate challenge.
There are two broad approaches to analytics that services organisations can take: real-time and batch analytics. Both methods have their own advantages and uses in different contexts. Real-time analytics on data from a services project that is currently underway allows services teams to detect and rectify problems before they occur. Whereas batch analytics can present data from one or more sources on a single dashboard, allowing trends over time to be identified. Whichever method services businesses employ, increasingly they are moving away from standalone platforms to analytics tools embedded within their PSA solution. This ensures that key data is integrated into systems and not kept in siloes away from where it can have the most impact. These powerful analytics give service teams the opportunity to elevate their role with customers and become a trusted advisor – in turn assisting their customers to transform their own businesses.
From inside and out
When it comes to a Big Data and Analytics strategy, there are two areas that services organisations need to weigh. First, they must consider the internal business value they can derive through the use of analytics to better manage the business and achieve maximum profitability, efficiency and revenue. Secondly, they must not neglect the external value Big Data and Analytics present to the services team; enabling them to tap into analytics that enhance their customer relationships, and fuel product and services innovation.
Services organisations that can make Analytics a fundamental part of their business strategy can use that Big Data and Analytics expertise to help their customers design and implement their own Big Data strategies that will enable growth and business transformation for years to come. In all the hype surrounding Big Data and Analytics, IT services organisations have perhaps the greatest opportunity of all if they can lead by example and become data-driven businesses in a data-driven world.
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