"There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free."
- Walter Cronkite
Despite significant investments over the past 15 years in analytic technologies, most organizations still lack true visibility and actionable information to connect their business plan to performance.
In the early 2000s Gartner introduced the first Magic Quadrant coining the term CPM (Corporate Performance Management). CPM included financial analytics and core processes such as planning, budgeting, profitability, with a focus on data visualization. After decades of “just seeing data” a new category of applications were emerging at that time to enable people to act on the data.
This sparked a period of mass consolidation in the early 2007. Oracle, SAP, and IBM acquired smaller players like Hyperion, OutlookSoft, and Cognos with the promise of delivering closed loop strategy to execution. During this phase, mega vendors proposed a solution for every customer problem, and existing ERP customers gobbled up as many analytics tools as they could get their hands on, eager for seamless integration.
It is, of course, never this easy.
Customers soon discovered that they traded one problem for another: now they had a set of disparate solutions, with the burden of integration and rationalization squarely on shoulders of the few (CIOs).
This is the state most businesses are in today. Multiple app silos, a multiplicity of BI tools and rampant usage of Excel with high cost, low adoption, heavy IT reliance and intensive support from “power” users.
Not only does this situation prevent access to the information by business people, it also introduces a significant amount of business risk, particularly to the office of the CFO. People are desperate for a new approach to analytic applications that enable business people to understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and what to do about it.
Frustration is what drives a revolution – and it’s exactly what is happening in the last mile of business analytics.
Companies today do more with less than ever before, and to stay competitive and continue to grow, they have to push insights and understanding to people closest to the operations of the business.
Finance has to rely on accurate information coming back from the field in near real time so they can ensure the organization is moving in the right direction. Business leaders need the ability to understand the impact of their decisions so they can adapt with the agility they need.
Addressing the last mile of business analytics will empower business people to understand what’s happening and take action. The days of application silos with a small group of power users that understand how to use them are long gone.
It turns out that the very freedoms that we will so humbly cherish this July 4th apply in enterprise software as well: by freeing the information from the command and control approach of the 90’s to the empowerment of the many in today’s enterprise, true transformation will occur in the last mile of business analytics.
Happy 4th of July!