Are you leveraging your SaaS investments?

If so, then congratulations! You’re one of the millions of organizations that have made the leap to the “Cloud”! Over the past few years, there has been a fundamental shift in the world of business as organizations replace traditional on-premise business applications for SaaS applications that provide an improvement in key areas such as availability, security, workflow, version lock, and scalability.  But even in this brave new world, there is still one critical area of business operations that’s often left behind. When it comes to critical business decision-making, most companies still maintain the status quo on how they use business application data to monitor, report, and act on operational performance.

It’s common to find organizations running multiple systems for various functions as new niche SaaS-based technologies replace obsolete, legacy technologies; for example, companies might use Workday, Intacct, or NetSuite for financials/inventory and SalesForce.com for CRM (and others for eCommerce and WMS). What goes against the whole point of leveraging SaaS applications is how corporate reporting is still being performed: companies still export data from these various applications for strategic reporting and using traditional on-premise Business Intelligence tools for analysis. The problem with this model is that in an age of increasing dependency of data, the data quickly becomes outdated, unreliable, and unavailable to the entire enterprise to digest and act on.  As an example, one recent company I spoke with was operating its entire company on SaaS, yet four different numbers were reported for their bookings in the first quarter of 2016!

As an Industrial Engineer I always try to stay focused on how I can help companies reduce waste or improve productivity to maximize the businesses potential. Every area in a business – sales and marketing, product engineering, shop-floor operations, etc… – needs to be constantly evaluated and improved in order to stay competitive in today’s global economy. This requires real-time and accurate data to determine where to concentrate your efforts. If you embrace Lean and Theory of Constraints, the traditional reporting process I described above could fall into five of the seven areas of Lean Waste: Defects, Overproduction, Transportation, Waiting, and Processing. In the world of manufacturing, we call these non-value added activities and they can be found in every aspect of the business.

Non-value added activities must be minimized in the pursuit of the goal of every company to drive more revenue and reduce its operating costs. How effective is it to run your business on SaaS-based applications if the steps to obtain data to be used to drive operations falls subject to one of these areas of waste? With today’s technological advancements, insights needed to make critical business decisions should easily be available to all users across the enterprise without requiring such cumbersome and unreliable processes found today in business.

Imagine an environment where every user can easily access dynamic, real-time, and accurate data encompassing any data source they need. This paradigm shift is finally starting to take place in the field of Business Intelligence. Even if you have on-premise sources of data, those repositories can also be leveraged for strategic reporting alongside SaaS data as well.

Post your thoughts below. And feel free to reach out to me if you would like to discuss the new change taking place in the field of Business Intelligence today.

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