The result, he says, will be an all-encompassing, innovative BI system with dashboards and Google-style querying that enable executives and practice leaders from across CRA to view, and slice and dice the data streams that they need most--whether that's HR or financial data on operating income or SGA revenues; new-business queries on employee skills and capabilities, or potential business conflicts; research pulled together from disparate sources; or social media capabilities to provide context and collaboration. (Some functionalities are already up and running, he says, and new elements are being added to the system on an ongoing basis.)
"It's really the overall intelligence that a company has in order to, at end of day, get the best revenue generation or the most revenue that you can based on specific opportunities," Anthony says.
"It's a big undertaking," he adds, "but companies that do it right and have the stamina can gain a strategic edge in comparison to competition and the folks who may not."
BI Tools Work Better--Finally
The growing corporate attraction to BI apps is not without valid reason: The analytic packages, user-friendly dashboards and data-management tools have, indeed, matured to a more capable state than ever before in their short history. Enterprise software vendors of nearly every stripe peddle some type of BI application.
"BI, to me, isn't new," says Jeff Liedel, the CIO of OnStar, the in-vehicle communications company and GM subsidiary. "What's new about it is that the tools have matured enough so that they can take cost out, increase speed and improve the depth of the analysis that you can do with your valuable resources." In other words: BI has finally hit the "cheaper, faster, better" stage.
The huge career-enhancing opportunity for IT right now, Liedel says, is to "lower the cost to generate the data and also give our business colleagues better ways to analyze [the data] to come up with trends and opportunities from the data."
Cars.com's Swislow says, simply, that BI is fundamental to his business, "which means it's a critical area to have processes with IT to mobilize the resources to maintain it and innovative how we use it." He says that Cars.com relies on vendor products for core tools and innovation--for instance, Business Objects, Cognos and Omniture (for online reporting analytics), among others. "But around the edges," Swislow adds, "you have to innovate on your own."