Are You Bogged Down By Big Data?

Don’t Get Bogged Down By Big Data To steer your professional services firm successfully, you need the right information about internal as well as external conditions. But it’s easy to get bogged down by limited data access, hard-to-use tools, slow calculations, and inefficient distribution of results. Let’s take a quick look at some of these challenges, their implications for your business, and what you can do to overcome them.

  • Limited access to data. Information on past operational performance is often locked away in application silos and heterogeneous systems. Analysts must use manual data compilation and calculation – which can make it hard to plan and analyze project performance. Instead, you need a way to deliver trusted, decision-quality information to a variety of applications and business users.
  • Difficult-to-master analytic tools. At today’s speed of business, you can’t waste time on outdated business tools with multiple interfaces and steep learning curves. Users must be able to perform analysis and present visualizations via intuitive, self-explanatory tools – with little or no IT involvement.
  • Slow results. Analysis can get bogged down by two things: the amount of data and the complexity of calculation. Consider a typical project-costing analysis that, for each individual resource, requires a complicated calculation based on HR data (including labor costs, billing rates, and cost centers), client contract specifics, and time and expense data. To ensure maximum profitability, you need to make quick, accurate decisions about staffing and project scoping.
  • Inefficient information distribution. Reports can be difficult to produce and slow to distribute, leaving decision makers without valuable performance insights. What information is shared is mostly “pushed” to employees via e-mails, alerts, and static reports. Today’s mobile technologies, however, allow firms to move from a push environment to interactive, connected employee communication.

Powerful new tools

You need a solution that allows you to pull timely data from a range of sources, cleanse it, perform complex analysis quickly, then distribute it to employees when and where they need it, on the devices they prefer. In its 2011 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark study, SPI Research found that only 29% of firms surveyed were using standard business intelligence tools to better understand their businesses.

Know thyself

But that number is changing quickly. According to SPI cofounder and study coauthor David Hofferberth, “The number of Professional Services firms using business intelligence is expected to grow even faster now that organizations have significantly integrated their application infrastructure. This allows them to more efficiently display and report data to optimally measure and transform the organization.” My forecast: Firms that use modern BI tools to understand their businesses will set themselves apart from the competition – and reap the rewards.

What’s bogging down your analysis?