IoT and Analytics

Use of Blockchain in the Manufacturing Industry

By | IoT and Analytics, Manufacturing

Recently we talked about blockchain in the oil & gas industry, and the next logical question is…

What about blockchain in the manufacturing industry?

Blockchain is a transparent distributed ledger system that offers highly secure, highly reliable transaction authentication. As materials, products, parts and money are exchanged throughout manufacturing supply chain, blockchain technology can be used to provide better visibility, scalability and security.

Blockchain for lot tracking

Supply chain transparency is critical for manufacturers. Food manufacturers are required to comply with the “one up, one back” approach, keeping track of where produce came from and where it’s going. Automakers also need to track their suppliers through to their end customers.

Blockchain technology provides a unique identifier to each part, making it possible for manufacturers to identify defects sooner, and pinpoint the problem causation. For example, in the food industry, blockchain can track expiration dates, storage temperatures and shipping information. Rather than recalling all product, the food manufacturer could just pull the food that was tainted in the one truck where refrigeration unit failed. Product could be recalled before it ever reaches consumers.

Blockchain for preventative maintenance

Today, manufacturers concerned about maximizing uptime are adopting IoT and predictive analytics to identify maintenance issues before equipment breaks down. Blockchain will add another layer of accountability and visibility, efficiently getting the right parts and people to the right place at the right time. The maintenance work order could be sent securely to multiple service providers and the best match automatically selected based on location, skills and availability.

Blockchain for product lifecycle management

When manufacturers sell their products through integrators or distributors, they often lose visibility of where their product is being used by end customers. Blockchain technology offers the promise of improved product lifecycle management, enabling OEMs to provide end customers notifications about product sunset dates and offer extended service agreements.

Blockchain for regulatory compliance

Hazardous materials, pharma, food manufacturers and other highly-regulated manufacturing environments can provide visibility to regulators in real-time.

Blockchain to defend against counterfeit goods

An article by Automation World highlights how blockchain is being used to validate product authenticity. By registering each product on the blockchain registry with a unique ID and key attributes, the product can then be scanned for authenticity at each point from manufacturing to sale, recovering lost revenue and upholding the company’s reputation.

Blockchain for supply chain finance

Blockchain can be used to manage the transfer of goods, managing payments with each transfer. It speeds up transactions by eliminating the need for banks and brokers.  In the video below, you can see how Microsoft’s Coco blockchain distributed ledger can be used to manage smart contracts and purchase orders across the supply chain.

Blockchain for innovation

When will the manufacturing industry embrace blockchain? When customers demand it. Blockchain is in its infancy. New uses for blockchain technology will emerge regularly as the technology becomes more mainstream.

The challenge of blockchain for manufacturers

The biggest challenge for manufacturers is determining how blockchain and Smart Contracts can improve business.  To validate potential applications and assess future development opportunities, answer the following four questions to determine whether or not blockchain is appropriate in a situation:

  • Do multiple parties share data?
  • Do multiple parties update data?
  • Is there a requirement for verification?
  • Can intermediaries be removed and reduce cost and complexity?

If you answered yes to all these questions, you have a potential scenario to apply blockchain.

Microsoft is taking bold steps to develop a robust B2B blockchain framework to support Smart Contracts.  The Coco Framework extends the Microsoft Cloud to enable enterprise blockchain networks that deliver:

  • Fast throughput
  • Rich, flexible confidentiality models
  • Network policy management
  • Support for non-deterministic transactions

Microsoft Cloud technology, including Dynamics 365 and Power BI, provide an agile framework for manufacturers to modernize their manufacturing operations. Solutions like MCA’s ManufacturingCONNECT can accelerate the implementation process significantly.

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Author: Brad Smith, Analytics Practice Director

Budgeting – FP&A After Microsoft Forecaster

By | IoT and Analytics

Microsoft Forecaster was a great tool for companies with relatively simple budgeting and forecasting needs. Now that Microsoft Forecaster is discontinued, many companies are actively looking for a sophisticated FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) tool that can handle the complexities of operating a global enterprise.

FP&A Models

How do you accurately forecast the future of your business? The typical process involves pulling historical numbers, then layering in adjustment factors – price / cost changes, new product lines, etc. Planning typically takes place at the various levels of the organization’s hierarchy – the cost center, the store, the department, and the numbers get rolled up to corporate.

Typical Financial and Operational Planning Models include:

  • Operational Expenditure (OPEX)
  • Production plan – Quantities/ Cost of Production/ COGS
  • Sales Forecast – units/ price/ revenue
  • Capacity Planning – compare to production plan to determine surplus/ shortfall
  • HR/ Workforce planning
  • Inventory planning
  • P&L / Balance Sheet/ Cashflow

Budgeting Beyond the Capabilities of CRM or ERP Software

While a company may use the data from CRM or ERP, forecasting and budgeting is best done in an external system. Without a viable alternative, the budgeting team frequently ends up living in Microsoft Excel for weeks or even months at a time.

The Problem with Excel for Budgeting

We love Excel, but it has limitations. With so many people involved in the planning process, organizations often opt for simple calculation, which can be wildly inaccurate. Most of the time and energy goes into figuring out how to consolidate so many business units into a single business view, rather than finding the right levers to impact results.

Moving to a True FP&A Solution

MCA Connect developed an FP&A Solution that provides both operational and financial forecasting, built on one consolidated data warehouse, with easy reporting and dashboards delivered by Power BI and SSRS. Our FP&A solution delivers powerful spreading options for input and simplifies the data collection process, reducing budget cycles by weeks, or even months.

Top 3 Advantages of MCA Connect’s FP&A Solution

  1. The planning process becomes much simpler, more automated and repeatable, which gives companies an opportunity to create forecasts more frequently, providing greater accuracy.
  2. The insights are more reliable because the data is validated and pulled live “in real time” from the source line of business systems (Dynamics 365, ERP, CRM and even other databases and spreadsheets).
  3. Operational forecasts and financial forecasts are inter-related, allowing departments to respond to each other’s forecasts. For example, as the sales manager changes the sales forecast, the production manager can adjust the demand and production plans, which may then trigger HR to adjust salaries or headcount forecasts.

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Author: David Bence, Director- FP&A

4 Best Practices for Oil and Gas Service Companies

By | Energy, ERP, IoT and Analytics

Now that oil prices are rising and energy companies are renewing exploration operations, it’s time to re-evaluate what you, as an oil and gas service company, can do to get your fair share of the profit.

We’re seeing oil and gas service companies focus their time and energy in 2018 in these 4 areas:

1. Innovation and Differentiation 

The best way to fight the profit squeeze is to offer something your competitors don’t – and can’t easily replicate. Technology, particularly IoT, predictive analytics, machine learning, and dashboard reporting through tools like Power BI, can be used to create unique service offerings and analysis of your business drivers that provide your energy clients with more visibility of their wells, jobs and production equipment. By providing more value and helping your clients increase uptime and lower downtime maintenance costs, you make it harder to displace your services and avoid the low cost provider from taking your business.

2. Developing a Digital Transformation Roadmap

There’s no question – the future is digital. The pervasiveness and ease of cloud computing, software as a service (Saas) solutions, and mobile apps have made digital transformation initiatives a priority across many industries, but especially in oil and gas services.

Because your business model is complex and your resources are spread across remote regions of the country, you may have found it challenging to collaborate effectively. Where do you invest? In field services software? In expanding your ERP software? You have a lot of choices – and challenges.

As a first step, we recommend building a digital transformation roadmap. You can’t do it all today, but with a solid strategy in place, at least you’ll keep moving in the right direction towards your business goals.  Along the way you can invest in hiring and developing a digitally-savvy workforce who can help your business grow in this direction.

3. Invest in IT Assets that Provide Agility

The oil and gas companies who survived the plummet in oil prices either had enough reserve cash to keep operations going or were agile enough to change their business as needed. Although we’re on the other side of that dip, you never know when another economic change is coming. Agile IT assets like Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations provide you with the flexibility to:

  • Change business processes without custom programming
  • Add/remove/change job roles & software licensing as needed
  • Add or remove functionality to support multiple lines of business
  • Gain greater insight into your business to become more proactive in changing market dynamics
  • Easily absorb an acquisition or parse out a divestiture from your business.

4. Strengthen Your Relationships

At the end of the day, business-to-business is really human-to-human. Strengthening your relationships with employees, vendors, partners and clients keeps your business healthy, both culturally and financially. By providing personalized customer experiences, like sending clients texts about job statuses, or providing unique customer dashboards, you increase customer loyalty. By improving collaboration with suppliers, you can gain greater flexibility in delivery and credit terms.  Tools like improved oilfield rental billing and tracking and field service software can help with the mechanics, but it begins with the leadership team embracing a relationship-centric philosophy.

Learn the 5 Ways Energy Companies Unlock Strategic Value from Software Implementations

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Author: David Huether, VP- Engagement & Alliance Management

Resources for Learning Power BI

By | IoT and Analytics

Microsoft Power BI is a hot topic right now. The Power BI Desktop business analytics visualization tool is free to use. Upgrading to Power BI Premium gives you true enterprise-wide insight. With multiple options available, use these resources to help you fully understand Microsoft’s Power BI tool.

An Introduction to Power BI

Get Familiar with Power BI

Go Through the Power BI Guided Learning Series

Subscribe to the Power BI YouTube Channel

Where to Find the Power BI Community

Join a Power BI Group on LinkedIn

Join the Power BI Community

On Twitter, follow:






Key Power BI Articles

Microsoft breaks through in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms – The Official Microsoft Blog

Gartner positions Microsoft as a leader in BI and Analytics Platforms for ten consecutive years

Announcing the public preview of the Office 365 adoption content pack in Power BI

Microsoft accelerates modern BI adoption with Power BI Premium | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Three years in a row – Microsoft is a leader in the ODBMS Magic Quadrant

Integrate Power BI reports in SharePoint Online | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Introducing Power BI Report Server for on-premises Power BI report publishing

Ready to use Power BI in your business?

Use this whitepaper for step-by-step instructions on how to get started with Power BI and start gaining actionable insight for your business.

View the Whitepaper

Author: Mark Hatting, Business Analytics Director

4 Tech Trends to Watch in 2018

By | CRM, ERP, IoT and Analytics

It’s that time of year again, where everyone wants to know what the hottest technology trends will be in 2018. We see these four areas having the biggest impact for the customers we serve.

1. Data Security

With so many well-trusted, major corporations experiencing data breaches in 2017, organizations are making data security a top priority for 2018. Having software in place to prevent data security problems is critical. Solutions include:

  • Anti-virus/anti-malware software
  • Backup and recovery / disaster recovery planning
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Being able to remote-wipe devices
  • Updating security policies and procedures

2. Cloud Computing

The move to SaaS solutions like Dynamics 365 will continue to be a major focus for companies in 2018. Cloud computing offers greater agility, while preserving capital. And although some organizations have concerns about the security of the cloud, many experts assert that having private servers is actually riskier. Cloud computing shifts most of the IT Administration responsibilities to the SaaS provider, which lowers both your ongoing cost and risk.

3. Blockchain

The technology that launched the Bitcoin / cryptocurrency craze to stratospheric heights is garnering the attention of the tech world. Blockchain is a distributed database that enables everyone to work together simultaneously. Using a series of validations, the end result is information that is transparent, secure and incorruptible. Blockchain can be used for identity management to secure financial transactions around the world. We are also starting to see great opportunities within business applications using block chain to support IoT applications, reduce security challenges and secure intellectual property.

4. Machine Learning

Companies in every industry are seizing the new opportunities presented by machine learning. As more data is processed, sophisticated algorithms systematically seek out anomalies, and learn how to respond without human intervention. From approving credit lines to spotting trends in product defects, machine learning provides big advantages in speed and accuracy.

How does Microsoft Dynamics 365 capitalize on these trends?

Companies moving off MAPICS or another legacy ERP solution will find that Dynamics 365 is a leader in each of these tech trends.  Security and cloud computing are innate features of Dynamics 365. The Dynamics Community site has a great article about blockchain integration with Dynamics 365.  And another one about the future of Dynamics 365 and machine learning.

Is your company ready to embrace modern technology?

Request a Readiness Assessment

Author: Doug Bulla, VP Business Development

5 Business Analytics Trends Fueling Manufacturing Growth

By | IoT and Analytics

As a company that has long specialized in implementing and supporting Microsoft Dynamics for manufacturing companies, it’s exciting to see all the new opportunities coming from our business analytics team. While metrics, business intelligence and insight have always been important to our manufacturing clients, advancements and greater availability of business analytics technology is transforming the manufacturing industry.

The top 5 business analytics trends we’re seeing right now include:

1. Using IoT devices for data collection

Most manufacturers are still trying to figure out how to jump into the IoT opportunity. Collecting data is an easy foray into using this technology. Monitor machines for overheating to keep from damaging equipment. Identify which parts break or need replacement most frequently. Over time, collected data can help you spot trends and reduce downtime.

2. Using predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is the key to having your organization become a “well-oiled machine.” Is that unit likely to have a defect? How much of that inventory will we need? Is that customer likely to buy?  Once solely the domain of hard-core number-crunchers, predictive analytics software programs have become more affordable, easier to use and are quickly becoming a priority for highly competitive manufacturing companies.

3. Augmenting company data with big data

Large enterprises often have such an overwhelming amount of data that it is difficult to obtain meaningful analytics. Big data solutions provide a fast, effective way to query petabytes of data contained across multiple systems.

In addition to modeling data from ERP/ MRP and CRM systems, smart companies are streaming real time data from multiple external sources including websites, customer support center, social media, mobile data, payroll provider, regulatory systems, commodity systems and EDI systems.

Standard Azure data lake technology enables all company data to be staged in real time in one location. Analytics are able to be harvested rapidly with the use of Azure Data Warehouse technology and Azure BI Platforms. Third party platforms such Hadoop, Cloudera and Horton Works enable large companies to query massive data sets more effectively inside Azure.

4. Integrating ERP with cloud-based data stores

The beauty of cloud-based platforms like Azure data lake is the nearly unlimited bandwidth and inter-operability with business systems like Dynamics 365. Records can be stored in the cloud and easily accessed by partners, vendors or even other company divisions, without impacting system performance. The nearly real-time synchronization between systems means that the right decisions get made faster and with less effort.

5. Including the voice of the operator to drive decision making

Daily reports can tell you that the first shift had substantially fewer defects than the second shift, but may not be able you exactly why. By incorporating the voice of the operator into the stream of data points, management may be able to gain insight about the root cause of the issue. Maybe it’s not that the second shift is tired or less experienced, it could be that the first shift took the easy work and left the harder production runs for the second shift to do.

Business intelligence has long been driven by the phrase, “that what gets measured, gets managed.” But with machine learning, predictive analytics and nearly instant business analytics results, a better phrase might be, “Speed wins.” As a manufacturer, you have an unprecedented opportunity to gain a competitive edge through improved analytics and insight.

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Author: Brad Smith, Director, IoT Analytics Practice

How will IoT and Analytics Impact the Future of Manufacturing?

By | IoT and Analytics

This article was originally published in Industry Week, click here to read original article.

What Role Will Big Data Analytics and AI Play in the Future of Lean Manufacturing?

Ask the Expert: Lean Leadership’s Larry Fast says manufacturing is on the cusp of a new age.
“We’ll all be wise to sign up and help make it happen.”

By Larry Fast

Question: What role do you view big data analytics and AI playing in the future of lean manufacturing?

Answer: Wow, this question came out of the sky. Not in my wheelhouse. My initial reaction was, “How in the world would I know? I have enough trouble keeping up with the lingo, e.g., IoT, big data analytics, AI (artificial intelligence) and a partridge in a pear tree!” But then I reached out to a good friend in Chicago, John Shelby, who recently completed his master’s degree in analytics at Notre Dame. I asked if he could educate me in plain English on the question posed. He shot me a link to a McKinsey study in which they are tracking their 2011 forecast of how these evolving technologies would impact retail, supply chains, healthcare and, yes, manufacturing.

John’s input helped me understand the difference between “lights out” manufacturing operations versus AI. In the case of “lights out,” it is an advanced state of operations where machines run with no human interaction, i.e. “robots.” This has been done modestly in factories the last several years but has not yet been widely adopted. The machines are programmed by humans and are still subject to human inefficiencies.

In some forms of AI, on the other hand, machines can actually teach themselves how to optimize their performance as they can run through various scenarios at lightning speeds, identify the best processes and train themselves to achieve a desired outcome. Talk about a brain stretch! I think it’s likely that AI will ultimately be the real game changer in the factories once new ERP platforms are in place, but this may still be a decade or more away. But imagine manufacturing companies that can absolutely guarantee 6 sigma, every time, on the customers’ critical-to-quality requirements. If your company is among the leaders in achieving this kind of breakthrough, what would that be worth to your company in terms of increased market share, low costs, perfect service, operating margin, shareholder value?

This all sounds like Star Wars hype to me. This scenario is likely a decade or more away. What I want to know is this: Can any of this technology be applied where I’m most comfortable, i.e., in a factory, on the shop floor? What can manufacturing leaders do with this thinking and application on a practical basis?

As John and I had a back and forth on these topics, he pointed out that big data analytics has been around for a decade or more and, while it continues to expand, storage is cheap and readily available and should represent no barrier to moving forward. That’s when my lightbulb started to come on more brightly, and it hit me that the issues for big data and IoT are more along the lines of outdated thinking in the programming of ERP systems.

Corporations are still spending untold millions of dollars buying “new” ERP systems that still rely mostly on traditional thinking and reporting. Further, report formatting, because of the same outdated thinking, isn’t structured in a way to get actionable, real-time reporting. Why can’t the ERP system simply be linked to the machine’s PLC and provide data in real time? Or must we always have a secondary system, often not integrated with anything else, to have what shop floor people need to more effectively manage the business minute by minute, hour by hour?

Historical reporting is of no value on the shop floor. We can’t fix yesterday or last week or last month — or even the last hour. We need to know if we’re making the numbers in real time. I wish I could look around corners and know if this is about to change. What will the next generation of ERP systems design look and act like?

It is a real brain stretch trying to think about the possibilities of how we might use these developing technologies in the coming years of manufacturing. These developing technologies and their implementation will be the next big paradigm shift that will cause manufacturing companies to either take a huge leap forward or else be left in the competitions’ dust.

I hope our readers find this prospect as thought-provoking as I have. It starts a conversation in each company whose time has come and, yes, it’s a bit overwhelming to contemplate right now. But now is the time for all C-Suite leaders to follow these technologies carefully, partner up with thought leaders in this area, and strategize how to be among the companies who get up to speed early and commit to the new technology — in fact, even help develop it. Some recognizable manufacturing names like Rockwell, GE and Siemens are already out front. Frankly, our software friends need manufacturing practitioners’ input desperately to maximize the potential of the technology. Throwing the next release over the wall without our input would be a serious mistake. But aren’t the prospects exciting?

Interestingly, I just returned from the AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) International Conference in Boston and had a wonderful chat with a representative of a company called MCA Connect. I was attracted to their booth when I saw a bullet point that said: The “Voice of the Operator.” They are partnering with Microsoft and designing a system that enables easy data migration, i.e., that allows you to pull in traditional manufacturing data from any ERP system, convert it into lean manufacturing data and assign it to the right fields in their “Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations,” built with lean manufacturers in mind.

I asked a couple of penetrating questions that hadn’t yet been considered in the system design (reread comment above about seeking practitioner input). In fact, the system they showed me had been hurried along so they could introduce it at the AME conference. But it has great promise. I asked to see scrap information, OEE, etc., and got a clean dashboard of color-coded metrics. I looked at some causes of availability problems in the OEE data and saw specific maintenance issues that had been identified. Tremendous potential. Oh yes, and we need to add one more acronym to our vocabulary, i.e., IIoT, Industrial Internet of Things.

My excitement calmed when reality set in and I realized this: While the potential is enormous, it will only be fully realized when the software writers of ERP systems catch up with current thinking. Why? Because using this slick new access tool to tap into the wrongly designed ERP system data will simply give manufacturing the same wrong information at the speed of light. ERP programs must be redesigned and cleaned up in concert with these new access systems. In fact, one might wonder why access programs would even be required if the ERP systems provided the same capability? In any case, until ERP programs smash long-standing paradigms and catch up with state-of-the-art manufacturing needs, they will continue to represent a formidable constraint to achieving the full impact of the improvement potential that is now obviously possible.

Yeah, I know, it still sounds like a Star Wars kind of fiction. But here is the information I picked up at the MCA Connect booth:

  • 79% of companies have started an IoT initiative.
  • 44% of manufacturers have a defined digital strategy.
  • 47% believe their business model will be obsolete in three years.
  • 89% see customer experience as a basis of competition.

I wonder how many of us will be ready when the Star Wars world becomes reality in the next few years. At first, just thinking about this gave me a headache. But the more I thought about the possibilities, I was overcome with excitement and optimism that manufacturing is on the cusp of a new age. We’ll all be wise to sign up and help make it happen.

“Those that say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of the people who are already doing it.” – Joel Barker, futurist and author

Larry Fast is founder and president of Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence and a veteran of 35 years in the wire and cable industry. He is the author of The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Leader’s Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence.

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Top 10 Signs your Company Needs DataCONNECT for Dynamics

By | ERP, IoT and Analytics

DataCONNECT is a data warehousing solution for Microsoft Dynamics that enables you to create a single source of validated company data you can trust.

Is DataCONNECT a wise investment for your organization? Let’s count down the top 10 signs your company should look into DataCONNECT:

10. You have no idea whether the information in your Microsoft Dynamics system is accurate or not. Maybe…maybe not. Hard to tell. I should go ask Joe…

9. You still have lots of information that’s never been put into Dynamics. Extra information is stored in spreadsheets, specialty databases, old ERP systems, and other line of business systems.

8. You just bought Microsoft Dynamics and don’t have an easy way to populate your new Dynamics system with records from the prior system. DataCONNECT includes data extraction and data import functionality for historical and archival data.

7. You just bought Dynamics and want to keep the new system clean, but still compare data from the prior ERP system. And…you want to be able to drill down into the historical detail.

6. It takes forever to run reports.

5. By the time your reports have finished being created, the information in the report is already obsolete.

4. Your budgets and forecasts are consistently inconsistent and they don’t have the detail you need.

3. You’ve invested in Business Analytics tools, but the underlying data isn’t reliable and can’t easily be shared with the rest of the team.

2. You want to benchmark and manage your KPIs, but creating the right data model is too large of an investment or too complicated.

1. You just want your ERP data to be correct, and easily accessible – preferably without spending hours managing and manipulating data.

DataCONNECT provides one version of the truth. It’s fast, reliable, and we don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Learn more on how DataCONNECT can improve your business.

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Author: Mark Hatting, Business Analytics Practice Director

How to Get Started with IoT

By | IoT and Analytics

The key to launching your first IoT project is to start small.

IoT devices (Internet of Things) are taking the manufacturing world by storm. At Industry of Things World 2017, we were proud to take the stage along with Dell Technologies and Microsoft to share how Dell Technologies approached their first couple of IoT projects.

Talking to participants at the show, we realized that many manufacturing companies are feeling overwhelmed by all of the options and opportunities that IoT presents.  In a prior blog post, I shared 5 Key IOT Takeaways that we learned from Dell’s IoT implementation. But if I could give just one piece of advice, I would say… start small!

Starting small is the key to starting an IoT project

So many people envision using IoT for these massive million dollar MES replacement projects, where the IoT sensor is used to route materials down the assembly line. Getting funding and approval for a project of that scope and scale is going to be very difficult and comes with a lot of risk.

Instead, I would encourage you to find a very small scale project that has low expense, low risk and high value to the organization.  And rather than thinking about IoT in terms of having the device “take action”, think about the data you’d like to collect. How can you use that new information to improve efficiency?

Author: Doug Bulla, VP – ERP Business Development

Learn How Dell Transformed Operations with IoT

Watch our 30-minute recorded Keynote presentation from Industry of Things World Conference to hear Dell’s full story.

View IoT Keynote Recording

Making the Case for Business Analytics

By | IoT and Analytics

If you’re still running monthly reports and poring over Excel spreadsheets to find the insight hidden in the numbers, you’re working too hard – and worse, you’re missing opportunities to help your company thrive.

Thanks to the nearly unlimited amount of cheap online data storage, the advancement of computer processors, and the brilliance of software programmers, business analytics has been growing exponentially in both demand and usage. Soon, it will be nearly impossible to compete in any industry without a strong business analytics foundation.

Business analytics is critical to achieving digital transformation.

Most businesses collect too much data and use too little of it. If you want to convince your CFO, CEO or other executive that business analytics is worth the effort, bring up the following 4 points.

1. To make better decisions, people need to understand the big picture.

Problems start when departments make decisions without understanding the full implication and impact on the rest of the company.  Data warehouses, like DataCONNECT, connect the data between disparate systems, creating “one version of the truth” and building a strong foundation for analysis.

2. Investing in business analytics increases the return on investment on our technology purchases, our marketing budget, our sales efforts, our production controls – and pretty much everything else we do!

Whatever you do, having accurate information faster is bound to improve your results. Fewer product defects. Fewer customer returns. Better understanding of buyer needs. Accurate sales forecasting. Optimal inventory stock levels. What do you need to know to boost your bottom line? There’s a business analytics tool for that!

3. Business analytics can help our company save money.

Manufacturers are using inexpensive IoT sensors to collect data on industrial equipment. Remote monitoring of machines can keep them from overheating, causing damage and downtime.  Predictive analytics and machine learning can help you understand weaknesses in your systems, and can trigger corrective actions. Banks use predictive analytics to detect credit card fraud and stop the transaction before it goes through. Manufacturers use it to identify defective parts and pull them off the line before shipping.

4. Business analytics can help us attract new customers, and delight the ones we already have, which will boost both top and bottom line revenue.

Marrying company data with big data can help you pinpoint more of your best customers. Big data solutions provide a fast, effective way to query data across multiple systems. In addition to modeling data from ERP/ MRP and CRM systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365, smart companies are streaming real time data from multiple external sources, which can help you respond to customers faster.

What key performance indicators do you track today?  How could business analytics help your company be more competitive and gain more market share? If you’d like to explore your options, reach out to our team to request a free Business Analytics Value Assessment.

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Author: Mark Hatting, Managing Director – Business Analytics