Delivering The Insight As An Analytics And Insight Team

Chris Johnston

“So,” said the new “Analytics and Insight” sales leader nervously, “I have something which has been bothering me. Why do we call ourselves the A&I team instead of the I&A team? If we are selling to customers, surely it’s the ‘I’ that they are interested in more than the ‘A’?”

There was universal agreement, and the conversation moved on. But my mind kept returning to this point. It’s true— in almost every area I work in, it is the insight we provide that is of most strategic value to our customers.

Data and analytics work with each other to deliver deep understanding, or insights, into your user base and company operations. Insights provide essential wisdom and reveal actions you can take to better your business. However, these insights cannot be obtained without analytics, and analytics is useless without data.

Data analytics initiatives can help businesses increase revenues, improve operational efficiency, optimize marketing campaigns and customer service efforts, respond more quickly to emerging market trends, and gain an important competitive edge over rivals—all with the ultimate goal of boosting business performance. Depending on the application, the data that’s analyzed can consist of either historical records or new information that has been processed for real-time analytics uses. In addition, it can come from a mix of internal systems and external data sources, and now, we can add increasingly accurate predictive capabilities into the mix.

Reality of the data explosion

We know the volume of data is increasing at an incredible rate. We are often reminded in press and analyst reports that more data has been created in the last year than in all previous years combined. Such articles often are written in an excited tone based on the unstated assumption that more data will mean more value, more benefit to us all.

However, there is a huge downside to the “data explosion.” Many companies risk becoming data-rich but insight-poor.

  • They accumulate vast stores of data that they have no idea what to do with, and no hope of learning anything useful from.
  • To add to the problem, a lot of data has a lifespan. At some point in time, it becomes no longer relevant, inaccurate, or outdated. But often it is held onto anyway in the mistaken belief that someday it might come in useful.
  • It’s important to remember also that collecting and storing data costs money: data requires storage and electricity to power it. And, if the information is sensitive, attention must be spent on security and data privacy, especially in the new world of enforced GDPR compliance.
  • Of course, the problem becomes even bigger when we take into account the predicted growth in the data companies will produce. In short, if a company is already struggling to store and analyze its own data now, it will be drowning in data in the next few years. IDC predicts that over the next three to five years, most companies will have no choice other than to commit to digital transformation on a massive scale, including fundamental cultural and operational transformations.

It becomes increasingly important for GRC, both from strategic and competitive points of view, to ensure that we are gathering as much relevant information from this data as possible. Old methods using sample data, old data, spreadsheets, and high-level reporting are simply not sufficient anymore. Manual methods of gathering data have not been sufficient for a long time, and yet many businesses continue to rely on these. After considering the points above regarding the appropriateness of data, it’s still absolutely true that there is value in a huge amount of the data collected by companies. But the correct data needs to be identified, collected, and analyzed to be able to provide increased insight.

GRC needs to move beyond manual methods

Automation is key! The automated collection of the right data, at the right time (perhaps in real time) transformed into easily consumable insights will make a difference. The combination of the right data, with the right analytics, made available to the right people in the right way can make an enormous difference.

Businesses can obtain significant value, perhaps differentiating value to ensure that they are aware of their obstacles and of their operational efficiencies, and in competitive markets, that they stay ahead of the game. However, given the amount of data being held within businesses today, this can be intimidating.

It can be difficult to know where to start, but you can feel assured in the fact that many companies have already started this journey. The analysis of massive data, from multiple systems, in real time, using predictive algorithms, is a reality for some. It’s available for all.

Learn more at an upcoming conference

And with that in mind, I’d like to encourage you to come and see what others are doing. Come and visit the International SAP Conference on Internal Controls, Compliance, and Risk Management being held in Amsterdam in March.

This conference will include:

  • Deep-dive workshops
  • SAP executive keynotes
  • Interactive workshops
  • Customer reference stories including BP, DHL Express, Innogy SE, Nationale Nederlanden, Stora Enso, United Utilities, Vodafone, and more

A robust approach to internal controls, compliance, and risk will help you stay ahead and thrive in today’s volatile business world, ready to respond to challenges, threats, opportunities, and regulatory changes the moment they arise. Please note: this is not a “technology event,” but instead is very much focused on business benefits.

Should you be interested in learning more, download the brochure for the event.

Find out how to reimagine finance, governance, and more at Financials 2018 and GRC 2018. Join SAP in Las Vegas, February 12-15.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)  | LinkedIn | FacebookYouTube

This article originally appeared on SAP Analytics.


Chris Johnston

About Chris Johnston

Chris Johnston is currently SAP’s Vice President of GRC Sales in EMEA. He has almost 20 years GRC experience and was one of the first people to be certified as a GRC Professional by OCEG. He is a firm believer in the strategic upside of the appropriate implementation of ‘governance, risk management and compliance’ technologies as one of the core drivers towards true enterprise performance. Prior to joining SAP, he worked in network security, as an ethical hacker, as a ‘Big 4’ auditor, and as one of the first European employees at Virsa Systems, creators of the Access Control product now sold by SAP.