CIOs who can give business users the means to connect analytics and BPM can cut a path to faster and more fruitful decision making, says Fleming. "Data starts to tell a story. We can help them find that story," he says. And rewrite the ending.
Fleming's division at Ingersoll Rand has used analytics to flush out and correct problems in such varied processes as order management, global inventory, and invoicing. Fleming has dedicated the biggest portion of his IT staff to analytics, he says, because the company has found it so powerful.
Doing analytics well has helped raise the profile of IT at Ingersoll Rand. The company recently replaced a mix of manufacturing and financial systems with Oracle's (ORCL) ERP suite. Historically, IT released new reporting capabilities twice a year. But by updating these capabilities quarterly, then every two months, end-users caught errors and spotted trends sooner than they used to. "This gets you back in front of your user groups very frequently, so they're seeing the value of IT," he says. "It's not a Christmas present once a year; it's multiple birthday parties."
For example, businesspeople were able to identify on-time delivery problems in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Through analytics, Ingersoll Rand discovered the use of some incorrect data about supplier lead times. In the past, the company had relied on knowledge of factory employees to identify a problem like this, Fleming says. Also, managers, thinking about efficiency, sometimes waited until the end of each month to enter all the details about some orders. "You don't get that service order in, we can't invoice. If we don't invoice, our accounts receivable balances will be lower than they should be. Then we have a forecasting issue," Fleming says.
After getting accurate lead-time data to the factories, the division changed its service-order process so managers now enter data every week. Revenue forecasting improved measurably, Fleming says. Among respondents to our survey, accounting departments topped the list of beneficiaries of analytics-driven business change. (Read more about the survey in "Cloud Analytics Picks Up the Pace.")
Those kinds of outcomes allowed Fleming to get funding to double the analytics team in his division to about 15 full-timers who help business groups plan and implement analytics projects. "Business made a decision to make a higher investment in it because they saw results."
Analytics tools integrated with customer-relationship management (CRM) or e-commerce systems can also lead to better processes for engaging with customers.
In the past year, CUNA Mutual has used analytics to understand members of the credit unions it serves. The company provides financial products to 7,000 credit unions and, through the credit unions, to individual members. The number of credit-union members has grown by 14 percent since 2000, which CIO Roy attributes to people seeking stable alternatives to big banks. But CUNA Mutual's primary customer base is shrinking: The number of credit unions in the United States has dropped 24 percent since 2000, mainly through acquisitions. To keep the remaining credit unions, and therefore itself, growing, CUNA Mutual has to know what moves credit-union members -- the end customers -- to buy a new product or service, Roy says.