Cloud services, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and on-premises infrastructures connected by wired and wireless networks now represent the backbone of modern enterprises. To fully harness the benefits of modern network architectures, network operations teams need a deep understanding of how these systems perform. This visibility is essential if teams are to avoid the downtime that results in lost revenues.

To be successful, teams must enhance their operational awareness and gain comprehensive visibility into the performance of both internal networks and those managed by third parties. Even by making small advances in this IT arena, teams can deliver large business benefits and demonstrable return on investment (ROI). 

Broadcom

Fig 1. Following a maturity model enables IT teams to take achievable steps toward expanding their operational visibility

Eliminating Redundant Network Monitoring Software Yields $1M in Cost Reductions

To move from basic visibility to proactive network operations, teams must meet the following objectives:

Establishing unified contextual awareness across network inventory, alarms, events, fault, performance, flows, logs, and configurations for traditional network architectures.Retiring redundant toolsets and establishing one source of truth for data collection and correlation across multi-vendor technologies.Instituting advanced capacity planning and insights into how bandwidth consumption affects user experiences.

Over the years, teams have invested in capabilities for monitoring complex networks that connect employees to a mix of enterprise applications, public cloud environments, and SaaS applications. The end result has been tool sprawl, which costs companies an average of $2.5 million per year. By following a maturity model that advances IT awareness in complex network architectures delivering critical user experience, businesses can expect a 50% reduction in costs over three years, delivering savings of more than $1M.

Avoiding Downtime Yields $2.5M in Revenue Savings

To move from proactive operations to modern observability, teams must establish awareness of modern network technologies like SD-WAN. However, gaining this visibility can’t mean adding more tools to your environment. Today’s teams need tool vendors that offer add-on capabilities, so they can use their current monitoring processes and workflows and apply them to these complex, modern network technologies. This guarantees that teams don’t have to deploy, learn, and administer new tools. Plus, it means teams can more easily apply the operational expertise they already have to the software-defined networking space.

By following these steps, teams can discover opportunities for avoiding downtime. This downtime avoidance can lead to improved network availability for critical business services, which can provide revenue savings of up to $2.5 million over three years.

Realizing an ROI of 160%

The holy grail for network operations is to move from modern observability to experience-driven network observability. Achieving these capabilities requires establishing advanced visibility into the experience of network users.

Research shows that, when following this maturity model for advancing network monitoring capabilities, organizations typically invest around $2.6 million. These investments can deliver business benefits amounting to $6.8 million over three years, resulting in a net present value (NPV) of $4.2 million and an ROI of 160%.

As companies invest in network innovations to support changing business needs, teams need to make commensurate investments in tools to manage their modern environments. However, it’s vital that these investments enable teams to establish unified visibility, including of both legacy and new technologies, and of both networks that are managed internally as well as those managed by external vendors. By leveraging these capabilities, teams can reduce downtime and costs.

Many business leaders still view IT as a cost center, rather than a strategic partner. By delivering significant business outcomes, including sizable cost savings and ROI, IT teams can fundamentally and permanently change this perception.

To learn more, visit Broadcom.

Networking

CIO.com: Can you detail the Bin Dasmal Group’s digital transformation process and how changes have helped improve business performance?

Umesh Moolchandani: Among various IT initiatives undertaken during the last few years, upgrading ERP has revolutionized the organization. The upgrade has allowed the business to optimize the total cost of ownership by approximately 25% to 30%, while deploying serves with the highest standards of security in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, shifting the cost model from CAPEX to OPEX. Furthermore, the integrated view of company data in web-enabled architecture has improved information sharing, collaboration across functional and corporate boundaries, and decision making for the management using advanced analytics based on a single view of data. This has to be achieved by investing in the latest available technologies with lower total cost of ownership and maximizing ROI. For setting up the infrastructure, the objective was to host the servers in Oracle Cloud instead of investing in on-premise hardware. The key objective was to host the application securely in the cloud, with no or limited public exposure, while keeping optimal performance, infrastructure resiliency, and data redundancy. Implementing CRM software has also improved response time to customers as well as decision-making based on customer-related data.

Umesh Moolchandani

Where have you been investing during the past two years in terms of tech initiatives?

Bin Dasmal Group decided to upgrade the legacy ERP application to a more agile, modern and cutting-edge web-based application in a cost-efficient and secure manner in order to help track its supply chain activities from inventory purchase, production, processing and final shipment to customers. This integrated view of company data in a web-enabled architecture would improve information sharing, collaboration across functional and corporate boundaries, and improve decision-making for the management. We also deployed CRM software that covers a broad set of applications and software designed to help businesses manage customer data and customer interaction, access business information, automate sales, provide marketing and customer support, and manage employee, vendor and partner relationships.

In addition, we decided to work with [modern data protection software developer] Veeam as our backup solution provider based on its capabilities for providing tools for both on-premise servers as well as cloud environments, and the ability to handle disaster recovery requirements. The new architecture was created with high availability at various levels, like server and storage levels. The servers along with VMware Essential Plus and Veeam software deployed in the Dubai Investments Park, and a few changes were done in the datacenter architecture for deploying disaster recovery. So the solution enabled cross-site disaster recovery of the servers and data based on the required RPO and RTO, which were decided based on the criticality of the system and data. Plus, the Veeam software was configured to back up cloud-based servers too.

Can you give us a little more detail of how further investing in ERP is helping the business?

The upgrade of ERP application included a newly procured manufacturing module that allowed Bin Dasmal to improve operational efficiency using best practices in the manufacturing industry. The new application also provides greater visibility into operational processes and profitability by providing various dashboards, reports and alerts with different dimensions. It’s easy to use, can be accessed anywhere based on rights and security and provides improved reporting of business data. This has improved decision-making because managers at all levels have real-time access to the same data, such as production status summaries and financial reports. The new processes, and upgrades in existing processes, have increased the cost efficiency and better visibility in operations, resulting in improved quality and customer service for the whole Bin Dasmal Group.

The company also moved to the cloud. Why did you choose to work with Oracle above other providers?

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offers several unique features and tools that support migrating and running its databases and business applications portfolio efficiently. Minimal changes are required to move Oracle applications, reducing the cost and length of migration to the cloud. Its infrastructure also offers tools and architecture that help enterprises seamlessly move from on-premise to the cloud, leveraging improved automation and built-in security to mitigate threats, ultimately supporting superior migration and economics. Their IaaS offering delivers a diverse range of capabilities unmatched in the industry—from its second-generation platform and suite of bare metal services to remote direct memory access (RDMA) for technical computing clusters. This differentiation enables Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s guarantee on both predictable performance and customer isolation.

Where is Bin Dasmal Group going to further invest? We’re going to shape business priorities in consultation with business leadership for the long term, and create IT roadmap for optimization of back-end processes, IT infrastructure capability building, large-scale automation, transformation strategies, and so on. It’s also critical to keep an eye on the beyond Covid-19 era since the competitive landscape will be reshaped and markets, competitors and value propositions will differ from those before the pandemic. At this stage, it would be crucial to understand the changes ahead in order to take the correct steps that will align the company with the world beyond the crisis.

CIO, Digital Transformation

1.

What is business analytics?

Business analytics is the practical application of statistical analysis and technologies on business data to identify and anticipate trends and predict business outcomes. Research firm Gartner defines business analytics as “solutions used to build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities, and predict future states.”

While quantitative analysis, operational analysis, and data visualizations are key components of business analytics, the goal is to use the insights gained to shape business decisions. The discipline is a key facet of the business analyst role.

Wake Forest University School of Business notes that key business analytics activities include:

Identifying new patterns and relationships with data miningUsing quantitative and statistical analysis to design business modelsConducting A/B and multivariable testing based on findingsForecasting future business needs, performance, and industry trends with predictive modelingCommunicating findings to colleagues, management, and customers

2.

What are the benefits of business analytics?

Business analytics can help you improve operational efficiency, better understand your customers, project future outcomes, glean insights to aid in decision-making, measure performance, drive growth, discover hidden trends, generate leads, and scale your business in the right direction, according to digital skills training company Simplilearn.

3.

What is the difference between business analytics and data analytics?

Business analytics is a subset of data analytics. Data analytics is used across disciplines to find trends and solve problems using data mining, data cleansing, data transformation, data modeling, and more. Business analytics also involves data mining, statistical analysis, predictive modeling, and the like, but is focused on driving better business decisions.

4.

What is the difference between business analytics and business intelligence?

Business analytics and business intelligence (BI) serve similar purposes and are often used as interchangeable terms, but BI can be considered a subset of business analytics. BI focuses on descriptive analytics, data collection, data storage, knowledge management, and data analysis to evaluate past business data and better understand currently known information. Whereas BI studies historical data to guide business decision-making, business analytics is about looking forward. It uses data mining, data modeling, and machine learning to answer “why” something happened and predict what might happen in the future.

Business analytics techniques

According to Harvard Business School Online, there are three primary types of business analytics:

Descriptive analytics: What is happening in your business right now? Descriptive analytics uses historical and current data to describe the organization’s present state by identifying trends and patterns. This is the purview of BI.Predictive analytics: What is likely to happen in the future? Predictive analytics is the use of techniques such as statistical modeling, forecasting, and machine learning to make predictions about future outcomes.Prescriptive analytics: What do we need to do? Prescriptive analytics is the application of testing and other techniques to recommend specific solutions that will deliver desired business outcomes.

Simplilearn adds a fourth technique:

Diagnostic analytics: Why is it happening? Diagnostic analytics uses analytics techniques to discover the factors or reasons for past or current performance.

Examples of business analytics

San Jose Sharks build fan engagement

Starting in 2019, the San Jose Sharks began integrating its operational data, marketing systems, and ticket sales with front-end, fan-facing experiences and promotions to enable the NHL hockey team to capture and quantify the needs and preferences of its fan segments: season ticket holders, occasional visitors, and newcomers. It uses the insights to power targeted marketing campaigns based on actual purchasing behavior and experience data. When implementing the system, Neda Tabatabaie, vice president of business analytics and technology for the San Jose Sharks, said she anticipated a 12% increase in ticket revenue, a 20% projected reduction in season ticket holder churn, and a 7% increase in campaign effectiveness (measured in click-throughs).

GSK finds inventory reduction opportunities

As part of a program designed to accelerate its use of enterprise data and analytics, pharmaceutical titan GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) designed a set of analytics tools focused on inventory reduction opportunities across the company’s supply chain. The suite of tools included a digital value stream map, safety stock optimizer, inventory corridor report, and planning cockpit.

Shankar Jegasothy, director of supply chain analytics at GSK, says the tools helped GSK gain better visibility into its end-to-end supply chain and then use predictive and prescriptive analytics to guide decisions around inventory and planning.

Kaiser Permanente streamlines operations

Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente uses analytics to reduce patient waiting times and the amount of time hospital leaders spend manually preparing data for operational activities.

In 2018, the consortium’s IT function launched Operations Watch List (OWL), a mobile app that provides a comprehensive, near real-time view of key hospital quality, safety, and throughput metrics (including hospital census, bed demand and availability, and patient discharges).

In its first year, OWL reduced patient wait time for admission to the emergency department by an average of 27 minutes per patient. Surveys also showed hospital managers reduced the amount of time they spent manually preparing data for operational activities by an average of 323 minutes per month.

Business analytics tools

Business analytics professionals need to be fluent in a variety of tools and programming languages. According to the Harvard Business Analytics program, the top tools for business analytics professionals are:

SQL: SQL is the lingua franca of data analysis. Business analytics professionals use SQL queries to extract and analyze data from transactions databases and to develop visualizations.Statistical languages: Business analytics professionals frequently use R for statistical analysis and Python for general programming.Statistical software: Business analytics professionals frequently use software including SPSS, SAS, Sage, Mathematica, and Excel to manage and analyze data.

Business analytics dashboard components

According to analytics platform company OmniSci, the main components of a typical business analytics dashboard include:

Data aggregation: Before it can be analyzed, data must be gathered, organized, and filtered.Data mining: Data mining sorts through large datasets using databases, statistics, and machine learning to identify trends and establish relationships.Association and sequence identification: Predictable actions that are performed in association with other actions or sequentially must be identified.Text mining: Text mining is used to explore and organize large, unstructured datasets for qualitative and quantitative analysis.Forecasting: Forecasting analyzes historical data from a specific period to make informed estimates predictive of future events or behaviors.Predictive analytics: Predictive business analytics use a variety of statistical techniques to create predictive models that extract information from datasets, identify patterns, and provide a predictive score for an array of organizational outcomes.Optimization: Once trends have been identified and predictions made, simulation techniques can be used to test best-case scenarios.Data visualization: Data visualization provides visual representations of charts and graphs for easy and quick data analysis.

Business analytics salaries

Here are some of the most popular job titles related to business analytics and the average salary for each position, according to data from PayScale:

Analytics manager: $71K-$132KBusiness analyst: $48K-$84KBusiness analyst, IT: $51K-$100KBusiness intelligence analyst: $52K-$98KData analyst: $46K-$88KMarket research analyst: $42K-$77KQuantitative analyst: $61K-$131KResearch analyst, operations: $47K-$115KSenior business analyst: $65K-$117KStatistician: $56K-$120KAnalytics