Business Intelligence: Get Schooled

BI only works if Marketing can make predictive decisions about performance, Operations about assets and even the CEO about the direction of the next quarter's affairs.

“Empowered by data insights and collaborative new ways of working, modern finance organizations are no longer content to focus on containing costs and instead are looking at new ways to deliver insight and value to the rest of the business,” said Karen dela Torre, Vice President, ERP Application Business Group, Oracle. “While the study highlights how finance executives are increasingly leveraging operational knowledge and analytical expertise to provide data-driven insight and forward-looking guidance on where to drive innovation and growth, an important gap still remains between aspirations and reality.”

But which data matters?

"As with any industry, the challenge of implementing productive BI capabilities is dependent primarily upon the complexity of the processes and the variety of systems which are being analyzed by the business," Marinelli  adds."CSPs, with their long legacy of IT solutions and their extremely complex order-to-cash process, are particularly afflicted by these factors."

Another difficulty of implementing effective BI solutions is--perhaps counterintuitively--the maturity of incumbent BI platforms and approaches, he explains. 

"A large footprint of traditional BI software--enterprise data warehouses, infrastructure-heavy reporting tools--and an entrenched centralization of data brokerage can present institutional challenges to the adoption of newer, more agile data discovery approaches," Marinelli says. "This is another area where CSPs are especially vulnerable, given the industry's IT-driven early adoption of enterprise BI."

It's easy for CSP brass to say they want a holistic view of their business and operations, but getting that done is no simple affair. To help integrate these various small views on the business, traditional OSS and BSS systems are now being merged to offer a more comprehensive solution. In Feb. 2014, Ericsson announced it would be merging its OSS and BSS offerings into a single “Service Agility” platform. The unified platform manages operations in one solution and removes barriers between network domains for better decision-making, efficiency, automation and policy control.

"This new style of management allows us to go from a reactive management to proactive and predictive programmability of the network,” Thomas Norén, Vice President and Head of Product Area Radio, Ericsson, says. “In other words, providing a real-time OSS that supports differentiation of performance-critical services end to end. By unifying the world of management systems, our vision is to cut in half the time-to-market for network services."

Anil Rao, industry analyst with Analysys Mason's Telecoms Software research team, says: "Ericsson Network Manager provides unified network management in a single platform, making for ease of transition as service providers look to consolidate their network operations."

While the fully holistic, 3D, HD view of the CSP business is slowly emerging, those on the fore are looking today at ways to consolidate data streams. Investment in unified solutions like Ericsson's Service Agility offer a path to merge silos of data. But that's just part of the challenge. Once the data is consolidated, it has to be reported in a way that execs with highly-disparate job functions can digest and act upon. Dashboards, scoring, modeling—no matter the reporting mechanism, BI only works if Marketing can make predictive decisions about performance, Operations about assets and even the CEO about the direction of the next quarter's affairs. It's time for CSPs to smarten up and get a view of their business from the highest mountain tops.  


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