Business Analytics in Russia

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It was the 2011 Business Analytics Forum in Moscow, Russia last week. Dmitry Lisogor, director of business solutions for SAP CIS kicked things off and introduced the sponsors, including long-term BusinessObjects partner Tern Group

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Alys Woodward of IDC gave a talk on Pervasive BI, with an excellent presentation on “Making your Business Analytics Pervasive”

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IDC ran a pervasive BI study in 2008 questioning 1141 organizations worldwide, and then performed regression analysis on the responses in order to identify what causes Pervasive BI.

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The chart above shows the results – across the top are the things that are most closely associated with successful, pervasive Business Intelligence, such as the number of users, number of different subject areas, etc. On the left hand side are the factors that can influence those different factors of pervasiveness. When there is a yellow square, it indicates that there was a statistically valid correlation between the two variables. For example, if you want to increase the percentage of power users in your organization, then training and design quality have an influence, but better BI governance makes little difference.

Alys discussed the impact of each of the five most influential factors on pervasive BI, and how companies can use them to improve their enterprise business analytics. The most interesting for me was “Design Quality”, with the excellent graphic below that sums up the potential pitfalls – and suggested correctives – for the major causes of BI project failure (a subject dear to my heart!).

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One piece of advice from Alys that rang very true: “make sure that your project has a branded name such as ‘Magellan’, not something generic like ‘the data warehouse project’” Why? Because if and when it ends in failure, you can simple restart it with another name: “Oh, yes, the ‘Magellan’ project – that was our steep learning curve… but now we have ‘Loadstar’… let me tell you more…”

Here’s the conclusion of Alys’ presentation – the six things organizations should be trying to promote, and the five areas for IT to work on. The color indicates how easy it is for an IT group to get started on their own (e.g. data governance is important, but requires the input of different groups across the organization as a whole, and is not something that IT can do alone, unlike investing in, say, subject-oriented analytic training).

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Next, Sergei Gnedenko, head of integration and development for Lukoil-Inform gave a presentation explaining his team’s experience of using SAP Business Intelligence products to meet the challenges of Lukoil, including an integrated Tax Planning and Administration system designed to improve overall data quality, check the tax calculations made by the authorities, reduce the risks of fines and penalties, and reduce the amount of staff needed for the process.

The project relied heavily on SAP BusinessObjects Data Services to integrate the data into a data warehouse:

“In addition to long-used and successful products like SAP Business Intelligence (Business Warehouse, Business Objects), the project used Business Objects Data Integrator, included in the package Data Services, for the first time. The product was successfully tested, well integrated into the overall architecture and we plan to use it other projects.”

Sergei explained how they are moving forward with their overall analytic maturity, and looking to increase usage by expanding BusinessObjects BI to mobile devices like the iPad (picture).

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Next Mihail Terehov, the head of analytical reporting for the fast-growing mobile 4G internet provider Yota gave a talk entitled “Internet access with built-in BI”. He explained that in a company initially scrambling to keep up with subscriber growth, there was a primarily a need for operational analytics, such as determining the causes of network traffic incidents, so they used a fast, simple data model close to the source of the data. Over time however, there was a need to provide answers to deeper analytic questions, and so the company has been developing a roadmap for a more advanced data model.

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After running several pilot programs, SAP BusinessObjects was the chosen product. Yota has worked hard on providing easy-to-understand, user-friendly views of the data through a BI portal. They also provided training for business users, which substantially increased usage and reduced the number of reports created through alternate systems. Most usage is still about operational BI and predefined reports, but things are changing over time, and the system has already proved itself essential to the business – if reports aren’t ready by 8am, it’s considered a tragedy!

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imageMihail gave a concrete example of how the technology is being used for comprehensive network analysis, with technical, marketing, and financial indicators. If the current base stations are underused, the company can create very targeted marketing plans designed to increase subscribers in those areas, and if they are overloaded, the data is directed to the engineering department, to retune the antennas, or increase the number of stations.

My keynote presentation was on the Big Leap Forward. You can download a version (in Russian!) either as an Adobe pdf or the original Microsoft PowerPoint version.

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The afternoon was packed with detailed technical breakout sessions, and the demonstration / sponsor area of the event was packed at lunchtime and during the afternoon break…

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For more pictures of the event, please visit my SAP Business Analytics Forum set of photos on Flickr

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