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Many large companies have used business analytics to drive decision making for years, but until recently the investment required has kept many midsize companies from following suit.
That was then. Today, thanks in part to cloud-based technology and the services it enables, midsize companies can tap a wider range of data sources than ever before. Business analytics can be applied to an enormous array of opportunities, from domain- and function-specific process improvements to the identification of strategic growth opportunities.
To assess where you might deploy analytics within your organization, consider the following:
Customer analytics can provide a way to achieve a single, unified view of customer relationships and behaviors. That can lead to upselling and cross-selling opportunities that companies may otherwise miss because they lack a way to look across various channels or siloed products.
Supply-chain analytics can help companies spot demand patterns, better assess customer service performance, reduce procurement costs, and avoid potential disruptions.
Finance analytics can provide deeper insights into cost and profitability drivers and improved
budgeting and forecasting.
Workforce and tax analytics are two other popular applications. Thanks to the advent of cloud computing, “analytics as a service” options may enable companies to get up and running quickly with minimal up-front investment. For example, a male clothing retail group used analytics at first to gain better control over inventory management and then built from there, expanding its use to a range of merchandising functions.
“Companies should consider getting ‘cloud ready’ before they think about specific analytics applications,” says David Evan Moore, principal with Deloitte Consulting. “You should have a roadmap and strong leadership. IT’s role will likely need to be redefined, possibly with a greater focus on governance and security. From there companies can be poised to select apps, and they can use them competitively quite quickly. A key is to think big, but start small.”
Although companies might take different paths as they migrate to the cloud, Moore says that a common approach is to begin with customer relationship management and HR applications, then progress to financial and ERP apps and beyond. New-generation “Edge ERP” cloud-based software may allow enterprises of all sizes to become more flexible and nimble.