We hear this often. We call it “trapped data,” and we can help. We can liberate your data and turn it from a source of frustration into an asset.
The reality is that there are significant challenges with most transaction systems:
- First of all, the transactions themselves are complex, and your system’s vendor spends a lot of time getting the transaction handling just right. Making the workflow efficient. Adding new features. It’s a big job. Reporting is the easy part – it can wait. Besides, it’s not so fun.
- Reporting, which is what most transaction systems (and even some BI solutions) provide, is usually more about validation, auditing, reviews when questions arise, compliance, and maybe other things, such as Excel downloads. Still, not so fun. And, by the way, your vendor thinks that your IT staff can learn to develop reports out of the database themselves, since you probably want to customize the reports anyway.
- This relates to the third issue – what you can usually report on is history: year-to-date, this year over last year, and so on. Of course, some systems allow you to forecast, but have you ever tried to look back at last year’s forecast to see how well it turned out? Or what you could forecast? (Usually you can forecast things such as inventory levels, quantity on hand, sales, and other mechanical elements based on historical data.)
- Finally, many transaction systems are older, which can exacerbate the issue. Or, they have grown from a legacy environment, which can have access issues.
That’s all fine, except that it doesn’t really help you to lead the business. Run the business, maybe. But trend analysis? Changing patterns? How is your product mix shifting over time? How is the profitability of each of your products changing over time? What emerging customer trends should you be on the lookout for? Which channels are starting to weaken? How long has that been going on? These are the questions leaders need to ask (or know their people are asking) and get answers to in these fast-moving times.
Plus, there’s usually another issue. The data you really need likely comes from more than one system, and sometimes from different versions of the same system. And you need to put them all together. If you felt as though you were on your own before, your vendor is really unlikely to be much help here.
At Adante, we understand how to get a huge amount of data out of otherwise “closed” or difficult-to-access systems. We understand how to compile it so that it becomes useful. We understand how to use it in analytic and investigative scenarios that let you explore it. Perhaps it is simply about visualization. Or maybe it is about forecasting. Or maybe it’s deep exploration of a trend and relating to root factors. And other times it is about the heartbeat of the business. And other times it is the foundation of setting yourself up for a data-rich competitive future.
We call this Business Intelligence (BI). It isn’t predictive analytics yet, and it isn’t Artificial Intelligence (AI), though some of what we do is powered by AI. But it is the foundation of your knowledge, and it should be at your fingertips. Sometimes your data needs to go into a Data Warehouse, so you can access and combine it, and keep it up to date. From that foundation, you can start to build more complex data-driven applications, including the predictive analytics, Big Data, or AI applications you are likely to need next year. Really good data management gives you all all the things you imagined you should get instantly. It’s like having your ice cream and the chocolate sauce.
Your corporate memory should be at the ready, not locked away in the head of someone who will one day retire or, worse, a system where it will never see the light of day. Your trend analyses need to be founded on trusted data. Or who knows where they will point.
If “knowing what you know” is something you need to get better at, we can help. Reach out to us.