Improving Time to Insight for Midsize Firms

Kevin Nicholas, VP of Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at Sage and Bill Tennant, VP of Sales at ZAP report on their work together to improve business insight for midsize enterprises by helping them manage their data

“The benefits of data warehousing and Business Intelligence (BI) are well-established across all industries and company sizes, including the midmarket.” So says a recent report from analyst firm IDC on ZAP.

Most importantly though, “successful implementations,” they say, “allow organizations to leverage an integrated and curated view of business data, providing a trusted and secure place for organizations to generate business insights used for confident decision making.”

But how exactly can an organization go about this?

How can a business leverage the value within the large and growing amount of business data that is streaming into them and through them?

It’s a question worth asking because–as Leandro DalleMule and Thomas H. Davenport from Harvard Business Review recently discovered–“Cross-industry studies show that on average, less than half of an organization’s structured data is actively used in making decisions…”

As a side-note, DalleMule and Davenport also noted that this mass of data is not only unexploited but also unsecured and ungoverned.  “More than 70% of employees have access to data they should not,” they report, “and 80% of analysts’ time is spent simply discovering and preparing data.”

But there are serious gains to be had if a business can harness their data, with IDC’s recent report–‘Improving Time to Insight for Midsize Firms’–pointing to “research (showing) that organizations successfully analyzing all relevant data are reaping significant business gains”… including:

  • Being able to pinpoint areas in the business for cost reduction
  • Enhancing relationships through a deeper and richer understanding of the customer
  • Improving productivity through better performance management

The way midsize firms can rise to the challenges above, IDC believes, is through the use of “simplified, prepackaged solutions” that tick three key boxes:

  1. “Aligned to their industry”
  2. “Require less technical expertise to use and implement”
  3. “Provide prebuilt components for data transformation, modeling, and analysis using preconfigured templates and workflows”

These three facets, they believe, “(help) offset the limited IT infrastructure, restricted IT budgets, and scarce in-house BI skills that characterize many midsize enterprises compared with their large enterprise peers.”

All of this sets the scene for ZAP’s recent partnership with Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions with three million global customers, in developing Sage X3 Data Management and Analytics (SDMA).  It’s a software solution which demonstrably improves an organization’s operational performance by speeding up the collection, organization and analysis of data.

IDC explains: “[SDMA] aims to automate elements of the time-consuming and more complex aspects of manually building a data warehousing and BI platform…  A good example of this is the support and prepackaged content [SDMA] provides for specific development tasks,” which it highlights as five key deliverables:

  1. Data connectivity–“Data connectors for files, cloud applications or services, and on-premises relational databases”
  1. Data integration–“Prebuilt extract, load, and transform (ELT) routines provide automated profiling and transformations for all data sources”
  1. Data warehouse modeling–“Prepackaged data warehouse models for specific ERP, CRM HRM business applications”
  1. OLAP modeling–“Helping to harmonize and automate the OLAP model build and semantic layer generation process”
  1. Reporting and dashboards–“Packaged reports alongside specific reporting structures and KPIs”
  1. Data governance and security–“Configurable administration and security capabilities ensure access and compliance requirements can be met”

SDMA has recently become, as IDC describes it, “the data management and analytics platform for the Sage X3 ERP portfolio”. And it’s not only Sage X3 users who benefit, such that “customers can integrate data from Sage 1000, Sage Line 500, Sage 500, Sage 300, and other applications into a centralized data warehouse where it can be made accessible for reporting.”

“This approach also helps in ERP migration projects, as SDMA enables data to be automatically extracted and stored in its warehouse without the need to maintain the legacy system for historic reporting and compliance purposes.”

According to Kevin Nicholas, VP of Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at Sage, “We foresee many more Sage customers using SDMA in 2018 to access their business information and become data-driven businesses.” That’s using all the data that Harvard Business Review identifies–and that IDC describes how to manage–not only to answer each question as it comes up, but to anticipate and answer the next question before it’s even asked. That’s surely the ultimate definition of reducing time to insight.



IDC Market Note, ZAP: Improving Time to Insight for Midsize Firms (doc #EMEA43048517, September 2017)

What’s Your Data Strategy? Leandro DalleMule, Thomas H. Davenport, May–June 2017 issue Harvard Business Review