Business Analytics in the age of disruption

By | 5 minute read | May 12, 2022

The 2020s have quickly been established as the age of the unexpected. Following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations still find themselves needing to navigate unpredictable external forces that are largely out of their control, including labor disruptions, supply chain shortages, rising inflation and increased regulation. To navigate this constantly disrupted world, clients need more data, more collaboration and more assurances that they can act at the speed of business without risk.

In fact, everyone, at all levels, need to be data-driven to face this disruptive new reality. This situation persists across all areas of the business, and organizations have had to focus on new data applications to find a path towards success and resiliency. For example:

What is in the way of making better decisions? The IBM Data and AI team has seen organizations saddled with data and analytics spread across the organizations accessible to only a certain set of users. This results in the needed analytics being siloed and underutilized by decision makers who could benefit from this data and content…if they only knew it existed and was accessible.

The most important types of analytics

According to Ventana Research, the most important types of analytics are Reports, Dashboards, Ad-hoc Query, Visualization/Discovery and Planning/What-if scenarios.

We also see organizations not providing the right analytics to the people making the most important immediate decisions. From our perspective, as organizations address the disruption, they are using a combination of these capabilities. Specifically, we see an increase of line-of-business areas using planning for “what if” and scenario modelling, determining multiple pathways to success for comparison. They are using AI forecasting and decision optimization algorithms to enable success in a world of finite resources and time. Each of these organizations has seen lift from these investments. IBM is the only partner that provides all 5 types of analytics in an integrated solution at scale, allowing for continuous improvement, predictive, prescriptive and scale to tens of thousands of users, billions of rows of data, with quintillions of intersections.

Driving success with a winning combination

 This solution was a success for Novolex. a packaging and foodservice products manufacturer operating in North America and Europe. The company faced a large gap between their sales plan and their production plan during the pandemic. “We did not have up-to-date information to make sure that sites were producing enough volume without producing inventory unnecessarily,” says Violeta Nedelcu, Supply Chain Director at Novolex.

The company used a combination of IBM Planning Analytics and Business Intelligence capabilities. The new solution reduced the forecasting process from six weeks to less than one week — an 83% reduction. This year, says Nedelcu, the company can operate with 16% less inventory than it maintained a year ago — especially notable in a year when food-service turbulence has seen both grocery gains and restaurant losses.

New packaging and integration

A successful solution must be designed to remove barriers among disparate analytics tools. Organizations have multiple analytic and business intelligence tools driven by different applications, departments and preferences. Applications such as Salesforce, SAP, and Workday also persist as embed operational analytics. These insights become siloed from other capabilities. These silos make it difficult to access consistent information, and they increase the challenge in cost, control, adoption and risk and lower productivity as people recreate the wheel.

IBM is addressing these issues in several ways to benefit organizations and decision makers at every level, across every organization and system. First, IBM is developing deeper integration among analytics tools and creating new packaging to give organizations more flexibility when it comes to deploying the 5 most important types of analytics. This packaging will give all users access to analytic capabilities, helping to compress the time to make decisions with the best data and insights available.

The Content Analytics Hub

Second, IBM is introducing a new capability to allow users to break down analytic content silos and uncover all the analytics available in an organization. Content Analytics Hub is a new capability that brings all your business analytics capabilities into one place. This single hub allows users to access, discover and personalize content to increase productivity and ensure more consistency in decision making. Organizations that use analytics not only from IBM but from other providers such as Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, SAP and ThoughtSpot may now pull all this content logically together, accessing it through a single sign-on while ensuring all entitlements are enforced. Furthermore, users can combine insights from all this content to create a composite dashboard with elements from each. Now everyone can see the same complete picture without having to re-create or be limited by a single capability.

Organizations can apply their own branding and creativity to present this information in more modern ways. Imagine delivering your analytic content the way popular streaming services do today, with information tailored to your needs, with recommendations based on your selections over time. This capability uses algorithms to ensure users see the content that will help them make decisions without missing information or re-creating work that’s already available.

Figure 1. Create a modern view of ALL your analytics

Figure 2. Create a mash-up across your analytics

Create a trusted data foundation with Cloud Pak for Data and IBM Data Fabric

Regardless of the complexity of the use case, the data wrangling that is required to meet your business needs, or where you are modernizing your IT environments, IBM Business Analytics solutions adapt to meet your needs for today and tomorrow. Our solutions harness the power of IBM Cloud Pak for Data and IBM Data Fabric to enable organizations to run their analytics anywhere with data that may be everywhere. Core features such as multi-cloud data access, an intelligent knowledge catalog, pervasive data privacy and security, and distributed processing ensure that no matter what your data need may be to improve your decision making, IBM Business Analytics can connect the right data to the right people at the right time.

Leading through a cycle of disruption

Disruptions will continue to surface unexpectedly, leaving broad and lasting impacts on organizations and their ecosystems. The best way to lead during these times is to adopt what our clients are sharing with us: let everyone in the organization use data and analytics to make decisions together, faster and with more confidence. The advances outlined above can be pragmatically adopted at any size to allow organizations to benefit today and be prepared for tomorrow.