Key to unlocking value of analytic tools is finding the right partner
Written by: David McWilliam, Director at Cortell Corporate Performance Management
Mid-sized businesses are faced with the same challenges and priorities as their large enterprise counterparts.
These include the need to better understand customer behaviour and business performance in order to grow the business and drive profitability in a highly competitive environment.
In addition, the midmarket is typically also faced with several further challenges – tight budgets, manual processes and reporting that may have become out-dated, lack of transparency and insight, and many more.
Analytics tools such as Business Intelligence (BI) and Performance Management (PM), once seen as the sole domain of the large enterprise, have now become critical to the mid-sized business to help them address these challenges.
However, with mid-sized businesses, successfully implementing these analytics tools is of utmost importance as budgetary constraints do not allow for investments that fail to add value.
Partnering with the right service provider is thus essential in unlocking the value of analytics tools, to help these mid-sized businesses drive sustainable growth, profitability and competitiveness.
One of the challenges that mid-sized companies face is keeping a finger on the pulse of various aspects of the business.
When a small business transitions to a mid-sized organisation due to growth, many of the processes and reporting functions become outdated.
Furthermore, these functions are not able to deliver transparency as work, volumes and the geographic footprint increase.
Many of these processes and reporting functions are typically manually driven, which may suffice for a small sized business, but will hinder visibility into the performance of various areas of the business as it expands.
Fact-driven decision making in all areas of business has become vital, not only due to the nature and pace of the business market, but also as a result of a new generation of business people in the information age, who require readily available insight at their fingertips.
In addition, studies consistently prove that organisations with the ability to gain insight from data, in other words those organisations that invest in business analytics and are able to make faster, more accurate decisions as a result, far outperform those that do not.
From customer behaviour and customer requirements to performance and the drivers of profit, along with more accurate budgeting and forecasting, analytics tools have become crucial.
However, for the mid-sized business, large capital investments such as those required for analytics and PM tools are a major decision, and a poorly thought out strategy in regard to this investment could potentially damage the business.
In order to drive maximum value from this investment, mid-sized businesses are increasingly looking to partner with a value-added supplier that can ensure returns can be realised.
Working with such a partner will assist mid-sized businesses to firstly determine their business objectives around analytical tools, to understand what information they require, and then apply the most appropriate solution to meet this requirement.
The right partner will ensure that any solution meets the needs of the business first and foremost, to ensure the investment into technology is sound and driven to add value.
A correctly implemented and maintained analytics solution can aid in many areas, removing time consuming manual processes and automating functions, driving more accurate decisions and minimising risk.
This also means that people resources can be more effectively deployed, removed from time consuming tasks that add little value and reassigned to areas that can drive business growth.
However, information analytics tools should always be driven first and foremost by business objectives.
An expert service provider with benchmarking capabilities will help mid-sized businesses to ascertain what will work in their scenario, and what will not.
The service provider will have the skills and knowledge required to maximise Return On Investment (ROI), and will assist mid-sized businesses with creating a roadmap that enables these organisations to measure progress against their objectives over time.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”