Turning BS into BI

The digital age has been with us for years and more and more businesses are now utilising technology to run their businesses effectively. An integral part of this is the internet and its ability to assist with collaboration and optimisation of business process. Associated with this, there is a growing feeling within the business community that “data is the new oil” as it recognises the value this important asset can provide to the enterprise. However, as is the case with oil extracted from the planet’s natural resources we need to refine it, manage it and standardise it in order for it to have value and deliver against the requirement it is designed for. But why bother? If data is the new oil then, unlike the vehicles we drive, why are we not particular about the refinement of data to fuel our business engine? Procurement and Catalogue data provide an integral feed into the business intelligence for the enterprise, yet when I hear that P2P and Spend Visibility projects have failed to deliver on the investment there is nearly always a common underlying factor, Data Quality. But why is this? In simple terms the technology deployed will not allow product data that is standardised and normalised to be relevant. However, when you consider that in one project alone the classification of data to product level realised in excess of £1m in savings for one category then you may ask yourself whether your project could have realised more value than it did. The good news its not too late to pick up on this. With the growth in data and desires to benchmark your business both internally and externally the opportunity to revisit this exists.

By 2020 it is predicted that digital information utilised around the world by B2B business transactions across the internet will exceed 450 billion a day!!! Leave the stone of data unturned and the monster that looms beneath will only grow in size and complexity. So there is a key benefit to addressing business data and ensuring you have effective BI and not just a repository for “BS”. Most businesses may have looked at, and deployed, P2P initiatives and Spend Visibility solutions but the majority have failed to realise the benefits they wished. As mentioned earlier, the answer is simple and stares the business in the face. If the business manages data in multiple applications and applies no standardisation and classification of data then any benchmarking attempts will fail as the data will be inconsistent. That being the case then pulling data into Business Intelligence repositories is a wasted effort unless the data has passed through a taxonomy platform. But classifying to category level will still miss the spot as the above example demonstrated.

Procurement can contribute value to the enterprise in delivering value by administering compliance, controls and spend intelligence by deploying effective data management. But rather than stopping at vendor management you need to further the journey to product level. This will give you a consistent view of spend data across the vendor community and equally support any spend visibility across disparate data within the business.

The time to act is now to ensure effective methodology is in place before the increase in business transactions within your organisation becomes uncontrollable. Effective data management is not just an IT issue it’s a critical business issue. As senior management see the value accurate data contributes to effective BI then why wait for someone else to initiate the project when you can stake a claim on the value it can bring to your part of the organisation and demonstrate the value Procurement can bring to the Enterprise.



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