Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Business Intelligence Chronicles Part 1: Six Blind Men and a Elephant

Many years ago when I transitioned into Business Intelligence Applications (Peoplesoft EPM/Cognos) from a ERP Transactional Applications (Peoplesoft Financials) background, one of my first endeavors was to "sell" the concept on an ongoing basis to what almost always used to be a wary audience of executives, managers and users who had heard the buzz but were not exactly sure what it meant. With my Sales and Marketing Background I knew that a picture will do it better than words.

The first slide in my presentation deck was the parable of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant :

  • Is it a Wall ?
  • Is it a spear ?
  • Is it a snake ?
  • Is it a tree or a fan or a rope ?
    Each blind man describes the elephant from where he is standing, from his perspective, and each is different...
    With EPM - Provide timely & consistent information across the global organization in order to align executives, operational managers, field sales force and knowledge workers in defining, viewing and pursuing strategic objectives.

The slide always drove the message home and I retained it in my deck as we continued to roll out BI applications to more sites/functions. Always succeeded in getting the audience engaged as it very aptly described the state of data and information in most sites/functions/organizations and what we intended to do about it. A very clear positioning for our "Brand".

What do you think ? With the multitudes of BI applications and Data Warehousing Solutions are organizations today better equipped to see the Full Elephant or are they still like the Six Blind Men ? Share your stories and watch out for Part 2 of The Business Intelligence Chronicles.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Business Transformation - Analogies from the World of Nature

As I have worked over the years transforming organizations, I cannot but help but draw analogies with the World of Nature :

1. The Hibernators : These organizations have a penchant for cycles of accumulating fat and then trimming it down. Almost like polar bears or other animals of cold climes. Much of this comes about from the cyclical trend of the business they operate in. I once worked in a company where this trend was driven by the cyclical supply of milk- the key ingredient of their final product. All winter it built up stocks of intermediates, added manpower. Only to trim it all during the harsh Indian summers when the milk supply dried down.

2. The Chameleons : Nothing intrinsically changes about these organizations as they supposedly "transform". An appearance of change is created to satisfy stakeholders like banks, shareholders, media etc. Many of the family owned public companies in India in the 80's and 90's used to fall in this category. The internal processes and structure of the company remained unchanged fixated on the mindset of the owner but the external portrayal constantly changed to suit the environment.

3. The Butterflies/Silkworms: Many organizations grow fat as they are inefficient utilisers of resources which are available aplenty since these companies are generally market doyens or operate in a protected environment. Latest trend is for them to go into a transformative pupa stage away from the prying eyes of external stakeholders under private ownership. The objective being that they after transformation will emerge from their cocoons as attractive butterflies, the cynosure of all eyes, worthy of great premiums. Many will not reach this stage as the private equity investor may decide to harvest the silk from the pupa rather than waiting for the butterfly to emerge. Needless to add the company itself would be killed and the value (silk) extracted by sale of brands, patents, equipment etc.

Any other analogies come to mind ?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do you know ? Reinvent yourself or become obsolete...

A very powerful and fascinating video on the progression of Information Technology, a compilation of unique factoids which you will appreciate (to the beat of some nice remix music).
Do you know ?
Drives home the message that we need to constantly reinvent ourselves so that we do not become obsolete!!

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