Chasing Answers

Chasing Answers

In today's cutthroat business environment, sharing has become a dirty word. But giving away your secrets doesn't always mean giving up your competitive edge

Be warned: your competitors may be doing things behind your back that one day could cost you dearly.

There was a time - especially at the height of the dotcom frenzy - when organisations seemed to be falling over themselves in their rush to trumpet their latest data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) initiatives. Vendors prodded clients to showcase their installations because it made the task of educating the market much easier. Stock markets lapped up the case studies as reinforcing their dreams of higher share prices.

The organisations involved seemed happy to bask in the reflected kudos. But, according to Base Consulting Group chairman and co-founder Jonathan Wu, those days are long gone. Now, companies moving to exploit the next wave of business technology are determined to keep their initiatives top secret.

Wu reckons the companies most actively striving to take their enterprises beyond BI and data warehousing today view their past transparency as hopelessly naive. He even agrees with their stance, despite a resigned recognition that those views can - and will - cost him further business. You will see very few case studies of enterprise analytics initiatives, Wu claims, because those labouring to deploy such capability are determined this time to exploit whatever competitive edge they gain.

Sharing has become a dirty word.

Organisations shaken to their core by the fragility of existing business models so ruthlessly exposed by the dotcom disaster suddenly see anything likely to give them a competitive edge as a secret worth guarding with their corporate lives. "Now the case studies success stories that are out there are for the most part not publicised," Wu says. "Organisations don't want to publicise them. Why give away a secret?"

Preparing to speak at an Enterprise Analytics and Data Warehousing conference in Boston in June, Wu says companies trying to compete in today's business environment must direct every resource at their disposal to creating business value. Enterprise analytics - the latest name for a grab bag of data warehousing, business intelligence and analytic applications - can give managers access to meaningful and accurate information as an essential element of good business decision making.

Wu describes analytic applications as information systems designed to support enterprise business processes through the reporting of key performance indicators (KPIs) and historical performance against benchmarks. Analytic applications represent the convergence of data warehousing and business intelligence technologies.

Enterprise analytics can help organisations understand exactly what is going on in the business, help to make timely business decisions and focus resources on areas most in need of attention. It can also help them assess decision-making effectiveness. Wu claims lack of such capability is increasingly becoming an organisational Achilles heel, while moves to acquire it are the fastest route to business value via better decision making and improved alignment.

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