Tuesday 25 March 2014

Five reasons you don’t need Business Intelligence

Answer ‘yes’ to most of the following, and you make decisions with confidence based firmly on good data analysis. Answer ‘no’ to three or more, and your decision making agility could probably benefit from a little BI attention.

1. I trust my data and can make decisions with confidence

If you and your team know your internal data is clean and consistent, it is unlikely you need business intelligence. Everyone knows how difficult it is to work with data that throws up more questions than answers. When data isn’t consistent, and varies between departments even though it’s supposed to be the same, time gets wasted. Business intelligence makes sure the data that people use can be trusted, because it is only useful if everyone agrees it has value. So getting data in shape is part of any business intelligence project - as teams who have gone through the process will tell you.

2. My information is always up to date

If your team can rely on up-to-date information, then you probably don’t need business intelligence. Your data is current, available, and enables people to make good and timely decisions. But up-to-date and reliable information doesn’t happen by accident. Nor does it happen without a focused project to improve the quality and availability of data. So if you enjoy good quality and timely information, there’s probably been a business intelligence initiative somewhere in your company.

3. I don’t have to ask IT when I need a new report

If you and your teams can create the reports you need, without having to involve your IT department, you probably don’t need business intelligence. You already enjoy accessible information in a format that is easy to use. So you can focus on solving business problems, instead of spending time getting hold of data.

If you don’t have Business Intelligence in your business, you will know the frustration of asking for new reports when you need answers to important questions. Or perhaps you’d like to have relevant data to check out a hunch you have about a business problem. If you have to go through a lengthy procedure to get the data, you probably won’t bother. If you have the information available, you will likely check it out and see if it’s worth following up.

4. I work easily with data from different systems

If your team can access the information regardless of which system it came from, then you probably don’t need business intelligence. You already know the benefits of “joined-up” data analysis, and the competitive edge it gives you. You can already see a complete picture of your interaction with customers, or your products, or other aspects of your business that are important.

If you have to look at your data system by system, you will be vaguely aware that there is a better way. You might wonder how much more competitive you would be if the join between your various systems was seamless. And you might wonder if business intelligence could help. It probably could.

5. I have a lot of flexibility in how I analyse my data

If you find it quick and easy to manipulate your data, then you probably don’t need business intelligence. If you find it easy to sort, filter and change the variables in your reports, you probably know why people are so keen to get business intelligence into their businesses. You know that the flexibility to drill down and get more information, when and how you need it, makes all the difference to the way you work.

Business intelligence is a great way to sharpen up decision making, and improve the visibility of important data. But it’s not for everyone; some lucky people already benefit from Business Intelligence. If you are not one of them, and would like to find out more, then get in touch. We might be able to help.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Microsoft Surface 2 takes off with Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines have announced that their 11,000 pilots are being provided with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets. The tablets are replacing the small forest-worth of paper manuals traditionally carried in bulky black pilot bags. 

A typical pilot bag weighs between 38 and 40lbs, and contains about 12,000 sheets in manuals, charts, weather information, and other documentation. Delta estimates that flying all this weight costs about $13m annually in extra fuel.  Not only is all this paper heavy, but it has to be frequently updated and reprinted, which is also expensive.

The deal is important for Microsoft. Delta Air Lines is the world’s largest airline in terms of passenger numbers, and had initially trialed the electronic pilot bags using iPads. Yet Delta decided to go with the stylish Surface 2 tablets. This is good news for Microsoft, but what’s behind the decision? Why has Delta chosen Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet over the Apple iPad? 

This is some of what was reported from the trials:
  1. The Surface’s High Definition ClearType display offers good contrast and low reflectivity, which is crucial in varying light conditions. Being able to see information on a screen clearly and consistently is  particularly important when flying an aircraft.
  2. A reliable long 10-hour battery life is necessary for pilots to be productive before and after flights, as well as in the air. 
  3. Pilots like being able to have two apps side by side on the screen. They can now more easily determine the best route, as they can see both a navigation chart and weather information at the same time.
  4. Surface 2 tablets have an impressive 17.0 x 27.5 cm screen size. Which is important is you’ve got a lot of information to get on the screen.
  5. The tablets are sleek, lightweight and less than 9mm thin – which is a lot more than can be said for the old pilot bags.
When I was at the Microsoft Partner Symposium in London last week, I met one of Delta’s pilots, Captain J Glen Hodge, and asked him how he liked the Surface 2 tablet.  “It’s very easy to find what you want, and a lot faster than finding paper-based information. The split screen is particularly useful. It’s going to make pilots’ lives a lot easier.” 

A Delta representative told me that all their devices will be set up in the same way, to make it easy for one person to borrow another’s tablet. That’s important when safety and reliability is the key concern. In the airline business, as much as any other, teamwork is crucial.

The Surface 2 tablet is just one device in a range that runs the Windows 8 operating system. Delta are also equipping their cabin staff with Nokia phones, running Windows Phone 8, with an application to process passenger shopping. All these Windows devices: phones, tablets, notebooks, and desktop devices give a consistent user experience, and can run applications designed for specific business needs. 

The opportunities for businesses using these new devices are becoming apparent. People can be more productive, wherever they happen to be – whether that’s in the airport lounge, or in the cockpit. Anatec Software helps business teams make the best use of their mobile devices, and their business data.  Get in touch if you want to explore how your team could fly higher.