October 24, 2011, 6:52 PM — Carrot or stick? That's the big question when it comes to emerging business-improvement technologies, such as analytics and spend management. Business improvement is the moniker I use for a category that transcends traditional "business intelligence." But whatever you call it, I believe it's how you view these areas, and how you present them to your employees, that will make all the difference in your outcome.
Take, for instance, spend management -- offered by companies such as Ariba, BIQ, Coupa Software, and Emptoris. Increasingly, organizations are turning to spend management to get a handle on how money is flowing through and out of the organization. Some executive teams and finance departments are introducing this technology as a way to improve business processes and gain a competitive advantage. Others are announcing it as a way to root out and rid the company of poor performers.
The same holds true of business analytics tools, which are available from Oracle, Host Analytics, IBM Cognos, SAS, Microsoft, QlikView and others. Indeed corporate leadership has taken to the notion of rummaging through data to divine decision-making guidance. However, depending on the prism through which that analytics is spied, it can either be a positive or incredibly negative experience.
Now, this isn't to say that the outcome of spend management and analytics won't mean saying good-bye to an overpriced provider or an employee performing a redundant job. But that shouldn't be the primary impetus for these projects.
Instead, finance departments and other corporate leadership should explain to employees that these tools represent opportunities to streamline current processes away from mundane to strategic and to uncover new revenue-generating ideas. This will take fear out of the picture and hopefully spark your workers' creative juices.