Data Provides Insight into Forecasting

This is the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "Improving Corporate Performance Management." The speaker is Abhishek Gupta, product manager at InetSoft.

As far as other companies, yes, I do think that all of that historical data provides insight into forecasting. We have used the information that we are pulling in for planning and not only for your typical annual budgets or your cash flow forecasting, but we have used it to really look at the products that we are offering and determine what the best strategy will be for the upcoming year.

So for instance, we might run a seasonal promotion in the summer around a mango salsa, or a burrito, because we think it’s springy, and people are going to gravitate towards it. But if that falls flat, then that information is saved in the data that says well may be we’ll push a different promotion around that ingredient in the summer next year.

So we are able to use that information not just for our budgeting purposes, but for really product innovation, limited time only specials, and stuff like that. That’s really essential for us in order to maximize performance. For us in the coming year, we are going to put a lot of effort into the customer, and gathering as much information as we can.

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Single Source Sign In for BI Portal

One of the things that we haven’t yet perfected is having a single source sign in for our customers. We have loyalty programs. We have a loyalty program both with our mobile platform payment that allows them to pay and give them rewards and gives us valuable information, and then we have the traditional gift card and loyalty card, and those two aren’t in sync yet.

So for us it’s about having a single login which gives them the opportunity to order any which way that we provide, whether that be on the phone, on Facebook, on Twitter, online, or in the restaurant, have them linked to a specific loyalty program, use that data to better suit our needs in the future, use that data to reward them, use that data to get them to try new items, and then most importantly use that data to make some sound business decisions. So we have a lot of work to do in that arena, but getting that insight into that data for planning and forecasting or just making those decisions in the future is really a key.

Some people have questions about security as it relates to SoMoClo and business intelligence, where might there be some security gaps and how to plug them. A big piece of security ends up being where is the data, where does it reside and do I have kind of the proper auditing and control over it. So I think that it’s really going to be dependent on the tools that you choose and that has to factor in when you are thinking about it.

But the other component really within that is if you have business intelligence tools that the employees like, well you know they are not using it to be malicious.They are using it because they have part of their job they need to get done. They feel this is an important decision support tool for them. Also you have to actually factor that in, and when you are making choices and even back to some of the other questions we had, creating something that gives you the flexibility to actually have at least some monitoring, some control over it, especially depending if you’re in say a heavily regulated industry.

But you also have to have tools that not only match that security piece, but also then there is that employee engagement enablement component. So it’s really not one sided anymore. But it means that it is going to sometimes limit your choices. It also means that potentially, you are going to probably be working with multiple systems, at least right now or in the near term.

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Issue Around Knowledge Management

But as we have seen this space moves very quickly, both mobile cloud and really social media, and so when we see more and more innovation everyday, it’s a good sign that these kind of checks and balances are in place. You need the ability to get some auditing and actually have the ability to have better insight into what’s happening from not only from a usage perspective, but also a security perspective. Who has what access to data, who doesn’t, and managing those interactions between different systems is probably going to be the most single biggest security component I would say moving forward.

There is also a cultural issue or organizational institutional issue around knowledge management. There has been a movement over the last two or three years towards the self provisioning of IT and shadow IT, as well as a decision-making authority for technology acquisition moving away from the CIO’s office towards the line of business. This is something we have been seeing over the last several years.

So you have got some of these grassroots phenomena like BYOD and now BYOA, Bring Your Own App. The points of vulnerability to sensitive corporate data are multiplying, what you might call in security circles the attack surface is getting larger and larger, not smaller and smaller. The flip side of SoMoClo, if you will, is it if it’s not managed appropriately into the traditional IT model, then there are major risks.

We have identified the core of the CFO’s role here is that there is a financial risk associated with non-compliance with sensitive data or protected data. We have seen some research recently which found that non-compliance exposed the organization to a risk on the low end based upon the statute that was not being adhered to at about $10,700 per incident and upwards of $491,000 on the high end.

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Importance of Fast Response in BI

If you do the math, I think a single security incident could have multiple implications. Do a multiplier on the number of lost and stolen credit cards, the number of health records or the number of personal information data points that were compromised, and this has a big financial impact. So what do we do? Well, I think it’s time that the CFO and the CIO have a major role to play here and balance the demands and the needs of the organization to mobilize quickly to interact on the social plane, to move forward in the SoMoClo universe because the competitors are, or because other pressures require it to.

This is not a statement that one needs to go slow. One needs to be rational and one needs to realize that there are technical solutions available here. So one needs to be rational about it, and the CFO because of the potential operational inefficiencies and the runaway costs from a non-centralized view, as well as the CIO’s perspective together can really begin to, not to lock this down, but to enable the business to enter the SoMoClo universe in a way that is compliant, secure, trackable, auditable, efficient, and at the lowest possible cost.

SoMoClo is an evolution. This is not a steady state. Wherever you are, wherever your organization is, it is not too late. You can take it in the digestible chunks that are appropriate for your business. You can rest assured that there are ways to do it right, and there ways to do it wrong, and the ways to do it right are ways you already understand.

There are technical solutions to enforce compliance, to enforce all of the things that concern the CFO about operational efficiency about controlling cost, about visibility, auditability, these are entirely available and so the real question is where are you on your journey not have you finished, yet.

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