Most organisations are coming under growing pressure to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, deliver more value to customers and other stakeholders, and respond quickly to a fast-changing business environment, writes Thabo Ndlela, non-executive director of IFS South Africa.
The key to meeting these business goals lies in leveraging the wealth of data that today’s enterprise has at its disposal to understand enterprise performance and enable better decision-making.
This is the realm of enterprise operational intelligence (EOI), a class of business solutions that enable a full 360-degree, enterprise wide, top down perspective of processes and performances aligned with the business strategy. EOI helps organisations to drive value from the wealth of big data from the Internet of Things, enterprise resource planning and other data sources across the value chain.
EOI can be defined as a set of real-time dynamic, business analytics solutions that deliver visibility and insight into data, streaming events and business operations. This, in turn, enables organisations to make decisions and act on insights in real or near real-time time. The data is generally harvested from enterprise applications and the analysis is aimed at people on the front-line of the business.
Most companies use a complex, layered mix of business applications, reporting and analysis tools, and methods of collaboration. EOI technology connects this layered mix to support informed decisions. It lets executives and managers review and orchestrate processes in real-time and respond more quickly to events and new information.
Operations and strategy in lockstep
EOI software ensures that operations and strategy remain in lockstep. This can happen by assessing real-time business performance in the context of how it affects key business processes and goals, giving managers real-time intelligence and actionable controls to solve issues before they become problems.
An EOI solution also provides end-users with a complete understanding of which functions deliver real customer value, those that are less effective, and those that waste time and resources in terms of delivering the organisational goals. Typically, in the past, that sort of actionable intelligence wasn’t available until some predefined point – a two-week, monthly or even yearly report.
Today, however, organisations use real-time data make decisions that affect current operations rather than the end of the week or even later. This is made possible by modern EOI platforms that map and capture top-level business strategy and goals in the software. It gives the user a holistic, dynamic and graphical view of the organisation’s unique value chain and business priorities.
An EOI platform provides functionality for numerous aspects of the end-to-end operations, including real-time analytics, dynamic forecasting, workflow management, process management, risk and compliance. Raw transactional data from IT systems is consolidated into a single dynamic management layer, providing powerful situational awareness to all levels of the organisation: strategic, tactical and operational.
Preventing surprises in performance
Some of the questions EOI can answer include:
• What is going on in my business right now?
• What is the best decision to take when an event occurs?
• How can we reuse knowledge and logic to improve our effectiveness?
• How can we add process agility to our business innovation?
• How can we predict the next best action or decision to take?
• How can we keep our operation on track with the strategic objectives?
• What is the quality of the end-to-end process from a customer perspective?
EOI’s top-down approach ensures that business performance is managed in context of the key business strategic objectives and processes – preventing any surprises in performance. Because the value chain is captured directly in the software, all the key aspects and interdependencies required to manage the organisation in an integrated way are included.
The value chain provides the basis for the organisational single picture of truth, presented in connected management cockpits. With an integrated environment, companies can have all the information they need presented in a clear, role-based way. Users can see clear visualisations allowing them to anticipate, control and react to changing demands.
This also enables collaboration across the supply chain and other business functions, such as finance, which drives efficiencies. By connecting existing IT source systems, one can make changes to processes without making manual, time-consuming costly changes to underlying ERP and other source systems.
This ability provides leading organisations with the much-needed agility to deliver at lower cost without affecting capability to enhance the value they provide. EOI improves speed and quality of decisions, enhances productivity by reducing complexity, and enables enterprises to stay ahead of competition by speeding-up time to market.