Real business value can only be achieved through realising valuable business outcomes.

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The applicability of the Cloud as a platform for provisioning applications and consuming services has attracted much attention over the years. Many businesses are now actively leveraging the Cloud or planning to do so in the immediate future. This is fast becoming the platform of choice.

Across many client engagements and several years in the industry, I’ve come to learn a very important lesson: customers pay for “Outcomes”.

Despite our fascination with technology, real business value can only be achieved through realising valuable business outcomes. Let’s explore what we mean by these outcomes and the form that they may take in a given context. Executives are motivated by outcomes such as: achieving sales targets, continuing to grow top line and bottom line growth, retaining existing customers, attracting new customers, market expansion etc.

Yes, such outcomes often warrant the need for a technical solution but the emphasis must always be placed on the former rather than the latter. In the current digital age, we are more challenged than ever to deliver such outcomes. Competitive pressures along with consumers armed with an unprecedented level of information and choice, require a swift and effective response. The competition really is only a click away in many instances!

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud has enjoyed significant enhancements over the last twelve months and consequently, can provide this “Outcome” orientation for a variety of different reasons. For those that may not be familiar, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is SAP’s cloud Business Intelligence solution that allows users to Analyse, Plan and Predict.

As I started describing in my introduction, businesses are looking for outcomes in in this new digital era and that’s precisely what we need to concern ourselves with as effective solution providers.

Any outcome driven aspiration needs to be underpinned by sound data; good data produces good information and great decisions. SAP BusinessObjects Cloud provides the option to connect to a large variety of data sources. Additionally, many of these data sources can be optimised by acquiring the requisite datasets and holding these in its internal high performance data store. Datasets can then be combined and transformed to take the appropriate form. Once datasets have been prepared, we are ready to produce rich and compelling insights using a variety of visualisations. Again, the choice of visualisation is intrinsically linked to our ultimate objective of delivering outcomes; it’s imperative that we use the appropriate visualisation to clearly and succinctly communicate the information at hand. As an example, the geographical proximity of sales trends are much easily understood from a map than is the case with a pie chart and similarly, the comparison of sales versus budget is best understood using bullet charts rather than a tag cloud. I’ve taken some extreme examples to illustrate the point.

So let’s take stock of where we have got to. We’ve discussed how it’s possible to build data models without any extensive IT data platform project and it performs adequately without the need to meticulously model the data. We have then dragged and dropped the different metrics and attributes on to our canvas e.g. profitability by country and growth in revenue over last n months.

The business can now have access to this core information but better still, we can now start to delve into any of these metrics and understand the specifics. As an example, a deviation between sales and budgets requires a thorough analysis before we can start to make the necessary changes and remedy this situation. The ability to do this quickly and easily is paramount, as anything short of this will discourage this level of analysis and again, impact or ability to deliver effective outcomes. This analysis can also take the form of machine learning; advanced techniques to help establish causation between data elements.

Finally, users can collaborate over this information as decisions are rarely made in isolation. Two examples of such collaboration are the social features supported by SAP BusinessObjects Cloud where users can be tagged into conversations and discuss ideas in relation to a set of information and a further example is the use of the Digital Boardroom. This provides a new and innovative boardroom experience, which is underpinned by the all of the attributes described above.

In summary, businesses are looking for “Outcomes” and not elaborate technical architectures supported by the latest version of a given software. It’s incumbent upon us as solution providers that we firstly give this the necessary credence and secondly, deliver it in the quickest and effective format.

The itelligence Annual Conference 2017, (#itelli2017), will discuss in greater depth our approach to business intelligence, BIG Data, Modern Data Platforms and Predictive Analytics that are all driving digital transformation. With 36 sessions comprising 18 presentations, 18 interactive areas, an extended Hands-On Zone showcasing the very latest SAP Analytics solutions, plus the SAP Digital Boardroom, the conference is being held at 155 Bishopsgate on 25th May 2017.

I am looking forward to delivering two presentations at the conference. The first presentation will discuss “Beyond the Hype – BusinessObjects Cloud in Action.” My second presentation will showcase and demonstrate SAP Predictive Analytics 3.0.

Register here. I look forward to welcoming you.

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