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From BI to KPIs to Benchmark Success in the Cloud

From BI to KPIs to Benchmark Success in the Cloud

Ask any business manager or executive which information they'd most like to see after they've gathered their internal operations data, and they'll tell you they'd like to know how they compare with their peers. I think the most exciting aspect of the rapidly evolving cloud solutions of today is that they will satisfy this dream.

By Jeffrey M. Kaplan E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
05/10/13 5:00 AM PT

Organizations of all sizes across an assortment of industries are using a growing set of cloud analytics solutions to address their Big Data, business intelligence (BI) and data integration challenges, as I heard first-hand at the recent THINKstrategies' second annual Cloud Analytics Summit, which I had the privilege of hosting.

Escalating competitive pressures and customer expectations are forcing organizations to find new ways to tap internal and external data sources to achieve their business goals. They must also better understand how they compare and contrast with their peers from a performance standpoint. This means using key performance indicators (KPIs) to benchmark their success.

Legacy systems have proven to be too complex and costly to address these issues and achieve these objectives.

New Breed

A new breed of cloud-based analytics tools are leveraging today's more cost-effective Infrastructure as a Service offerings to capture and process structured and unstructured data. More user-friendly, Software as a Service solutions are making it easier for corporate end-users and executives to collate and share this information to make better important decisions. Plus, a maturing set of Platform as a Service alternatives are enabling organizations to build their own analytics applications.

At all three levels, today's cloud solutions are increasingly equipped with dashboards that provide a quick snapshot of current usage levels. They often include historical trends lines and configurable alerts to notify users when they are at risk of not achieving their objectives, or when they may face a potential problem such as customer abandonment or IT system failures.

Some of these thresholds are determined by internal metrics or user-designated criteria. Others are being driven by industry statistics as the user base for cloud services grows, and the cloud analytics vendors are able to aggregate their metadata to generate industry benchmarks that enable users to see how they are doing in comparison with their peers.

The Science of Marketing

One of the basic principles of business management is that you can't manage what you can't measure, and you can't measure what you can't monitor. In the cloud, you can measure everything. As a result, what used to be more art than science and more subjective than objective can now be clearly defined using readily available metrics. Marketing, for instance, is becoming a very exact science. Also, IT can now more clearly demonstrate its business value.

As today's cloud services attain a critical mass of customers, the cloud vendors can convert their usage records into valuable KPIs and create a new level of value for their customers.

Many of the leading cloud analytics vendors are already generating this new level of data for their customers, and some are embedding their functionality into other cloud solutions so it can be found in different functional areas.

Benchmarking capabilities should be on your checklist of important features to consider as you establish your criteria for selection of today's cloud solutions.

To learn more about these trends and ideas, view the video recordings of the Cloud Analytics Summit keynote presentations and panel discussions.


Jeff Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace, and and host of the Cloud Innovators Summit conference series. He can be reached at jkaplan@thinkstrategies.com.


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