2016 Readers' Choice: Business Intelligence

By: John Rossi, General Manager and Global Leader – Consumer Industries Consulting, Wipro

This is a very tough year to select a Top 10. There are a LOT of worthy candidates who are truly helping CG companies, plus a lot of companies that overlap with multiple categories (demand data analytics, analytics for trade promotions and supply chain). All of these companies provide both a toolkit and pre-packaged solutions built on their platform. The pre-packaged solutions are typically geared toward a business function but their platforms can be utilized across the business spectrum. These 10 companies are definitely seen as leaders in BI, and there are another 10-or-so not mentioned. Using real-time information is required as the  industry continues evolving to directly reach the shopper and consumer.
Ideal solutions have three or four layers. There is the data/information management layer, the analytics/mathematical modeling layer, the business process layer and the insights layer. Many solution providers and CG companies aren’t mature enough in their experiences to segregate these layers, so they just call it all “BI” or “analytics.” That’s an injustice to the providers and CG companies that “get it.” 
The best CG companies are outsourcing their data/information management layers. It’s not core to their internal capabilities, and they free-up people and capital to re-invest in the most important layer – insights. Between the software providers and experienced consulting firms, the mathematical analytics is achievable today and again should be purchased or outsourced. CG companies should not try to have analytics as in-house expertise. CG companies must be willing to re-tool their processes for the use of near real-time data, let alone actual real-time data. If a solution provider can send a list at 6 a.m. of the individual retail stores where they have seen not seen an uptick in volume even though a trade promotion was started yesterday, but the CG company cannot respond in that same timeframe to interact with the individual stores, what good is having that valuable analysis? There are countless stories where the existing process, which is easier to overcome, is actually reducing the benefits provided by the BI analysis.

INSIGHTS is the key to unlocking the real potential. Today’s scarcity is properly experienced people in the industry with the requisite ability to provide successful insights. The BI tool providers have a major role to play in providing the analytics capabilities, and with continued advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), we may quickly see these same providers have basic insights capabilities, but it still takes properly experienced people to provide a deep level of insights. Today’s gap between analytics and insights will be solved with people although IBM’s Watson and Wipro’s Holmes are starting to bridge that gap via AI.
Analytics, and most importantly, insights via strong BI products should be at — or near the top of the CG companies’ lists. It’s the key differentiator to survival when the products are similar, if not ubiquitous.



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