What’s the Difference Between Business Intelligence (BI) and EPM?

Business Intelligence Emerges From Decision Support

Although there were some earlier usages, business intelligence (BI) as it’s understood today evolved from the decision support systems (DSS) used in the 1960s through the mid-1980s. Then in 1989, Howard Dresner (a former Gartner analyst) proposed “business intelligence” as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision-making by using fact-based support systems.” In fact, Mr. Dresner is often referred to as the “father of BI.” (I’m still trying to identify and locate the “mother of BI” to get the full story.)

The more modern definition provided by Wikipedia describes BI as “a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.” To put it more plainly, BI is mainly a set of tools or a platform focused on information delivery and typically driven by the information technology (IT) department. The term “business intelligence” is still used today, although it’s often paired with the term “business analytics,” which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Along Came Enterprise Performance Management

In the early 1990s, the term “business performance management” started to emerge and was strongly associated with the balanced scorecard methodology. The IT industry more readily embraced the concept around 2003, and this eventually morphed into the term “enterprise performance management” (EPM), which according to Gartner “is the process of monitoring performance across the enterprise with the goal of improving business performance.” The term is often used synonymously with corporate performance management (CPM), business performance management (BPM), and financial performance management (FPM).

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Why Supply Chain Risk Management is Key to Supplier Management

While brand damage can be quite costly to the businesses whose sales rely strongly on the customer loyalty they generate from their brand strength, cost volatility and supply disruption is very costly to all manufacturers. In fact, in the latest 2015 study by the Business Continuity Institute, supply chain disruption is double in priority relative to other enterprise disruptions and over three-fourths of respondents cited that they had at least one recent (significant) disruption. The same percentage didn’t have full visibility of their supply chains.

While category management can address and even reduce supply chain risk by ensuring a chosen strategy has the right level of resiliency, prevention and agility, it cannot prevent risk or do much to eliminate the source of risk once something has happened. That can only be done by each party in the supply chain doing everything they can to eliminate the risk. In particular, a supplier needs to do all they can to minimize the risk on their end.

However, not all suppliers are as advanced in supply chain management, and in particular, risk management as the buying organization. That’s why good supplier management combined with SCRM is key. Good risk management is a combination of risk prevention and risk mitigation when a risk is detected. Risk prevention involves selecting suppliers, products and services that are low risk and risk mitigation involves taking action as soon as an indicator is detected.

A supplier is not always good at mitigating or even detecting risk in its supply chain, or may overlook an obvious sign that an observant buyer would not, which is why proper supplier management is key. This begins even when qualifying suppliers. Including risk criteria related to the supplier and supplier location gives a good indication of a supplier’s the risk level. Besides the supplier qualification criteria, supply location-related risks provide an overview on potential threats like natural disasters, political situation, sanctions or economic risk. This gives buyers the chance to take preventive actions.

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How to Use Big Data to Enhance Employee Performance

Big Data has been one of the most significant and influential aspects of the Information Age as it relates to the enterprise world. Essentially, Big Data is the massive collection, indexing, mining, and implementation of information that emanates from just about any activity that can be monitored and managed electronically. Some of the uses of Big Data include: marketing intelligence, sales automation, strategizing, productivity improvement, and efficient management.

Enhancement of the workforce is one of the exciting and meaningful benefits of Big Data for the business sphere. Recently, human resource managers and analysts have been researching the implementation of Big Data as it relates to employees, and the following trends have emerged:

Employee Intelligence

For many decades, companies and organizations have tried various methods to gain knowledge about what their employees are really like. The productivity that workers can contribute to their employers is based on personal needs as they are balanced against the performance of their duties. With Big Data solutions, both personal needs and performance can be diluted into metrics for efficient analysis.

Modern workplace analytics originates from tracking employee records as well as metrics on their performance, interactions and collaboration. The idea is to focus on the right metrics to create a climate of positive engagement.

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One step ahead: How data science and supply chain management are driving the predictive enterprise

DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, today launched its latest white paper highlighting the untapped power of data-driven insight for the supply chain. The white paper has revealed that most companies are sitting upon a goldmine of untapped supply chain data that has the ability to give organizations a competitive edge. While this wealth of supply chain data already runs the day-to-day flow of goods around the world, the white paper has revealed a small group of trailblazing companies are utilizing this data as a predictive tool for accurate forecasting.

“The predictive enterprise: Where data science meets supply chain” is a white paper by Lisa Harrington, President of the lharrington group LLC that was commissioned by DHL to identify the opportunities available to companies to anticipate and even predict the future. It encourages companies to get ahead of their business and direct their global operations accordingly.

Data mining, pattern recognition, business analytics, business intelligence and other tools are coalescing into an emerging field of supply chain data science. These new intelligent analytic capabilities are changing supply chains – from reactive operations, to proactive and ultimately predictive operating models. The implications extend far beyond just reinventing the supply chain. They will help map the blueprint for the next-generation global company – the insight-driven enterprise.

Jesse Laver, Vice President, Global Sector Development, Technology, DHL Supply Chain, said, “At DHL, we’re helping our customers get ahead of the competition by working with them to harness the wealth of data information from across their businesses, allowing us to develop smarter supply chain solutions that factor in their wider business operations. For our technology customers, we use data analytics to predict what’s going on in the supply chain, such as what products are in high demand, so we can tailor our solutions accordingly.”

While supply chain analytics technologies and tools have come a long way in the last few years, integrating them into the enterprise is still far from easy. Companies typically progress through several stages of maturity as they adopt these technologies. The descriptive supply chain stage uses information and analytics systems to capture and present data in a way that helps managers understand what is happening.

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Globalization Creates New Avenues for Supply Chain Risk: riskmethods Shares its Predictions for 2016

As part of our ongoing series on what procurement technology providers see as the biggest challenge for procurement in 2016, we recently spoke to riskmethods to hear its thoughts on the topic. Heiko Schwarz, riskmethods founder and managing director, pointed to increased external risks, globalization and regulation compliance as the main issues procurement and supply chain managers will have to tackle in the new year.

These three major trends will expose organizations to risks in 2016, Heiko said. External risk will continue to be an issue. For example, extreme weather such as rain or snow storms will expose and disrupt supply chains even more than in the past, he said. Political risks have been a growing trend for years, but will continue in 2016 as well, he added.

Globalization is also pushing enterprises to search for new suppliers in countries or regions they probably have not worked in before. Procurement’s scope in the last year has dramatically changed, going from a “domestic-centric” view to a more global one, Heiko said. Specifically, he believes we will see movement away from China as the cost of operating there continues to rise. China is no longer a low-cost sourcing country, and this is putting pressure on companies to move to new areas, places such as the northern regions of Africa, he said. This globalization push will put increase supply chain complexities in 2016.

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New Solutions for Supply Chain Risk Management: A Case Study

We are entering an era where it is becoming possible to detect supply chain risks much more quickly. A case in point is offered by AGCO. AGCO AGCO +1.96% is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of a wide range of agricultural equipment. In a discussion with AGCO’s Jan Theissen, Director of Strategy and Methods, and Jake Stone, Manager of Supply Chain Risk and Contract Management, I learned about this public, Atlanta headquartered corporation’s journey to improve their sourcing and supply base risk management capabilities.

AGCO’s products are marketed under a number of well-known brands, including Challenger, Fendt, GSI, Massey Ferguson and Valtra. The manufacture and assembly of their products occurs at 34 locations worldwide and historically each of these brands was managed as a separate supply chain. Further, because the company had grown by acquisition, these different supply chains used more than 10 different enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions for direct sourcing.

Beginning in 2012, Mr. Theissen, a newly appointed procurement leader, led a transformation of the sourcing organization. AGCO moved from a fragmented and decentralized procurement to a centralized commodity management structure in order to better leverage buying synergies and increase the overall maturity level of this organization. Implementation of standardized roles and responsibilities, and global policies and procedures, were supported by an extensive change management program. The company formed a School of Purchasing to further develop the capabilities of the organization.

The risks associated with sourcing became part of each category manager’s job; these managers became responsible for supplier risk management, not just savings. Mr. Stone was brought into establish new, systems, processes and capabilities to manage procurement risk. One thing Mr. Stone put in place was a clear communication and escalation process to deal with risks once detected.

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Beware the ‘black swans’ in your supply chain

Enterprises know that merely having a supply chain involves a certain amount of risk, but few do enough to protect against the one-off, extreme incidents that can disrupt them.

That’s according to Yossi Sheffi, an MIT professor who is director of its Center for Transportation & Logistics.

Such events — sometimes referred to as “black swans” — include unanticipated catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, the BP Horizon oil rig explosion, the 9/11 terrorist attack, the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, and even the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

While most risk-planning processes focus on events that happen relatively often, such as routine weather emergencies, they often ignore the extreme ones that are considered too unlikely to worry about, Sheffi argues.

While such events are unlikely, the probability that they’ll happen isn’t zero — as history has proven again and again.

“Black swans are never expected,” Sheffi said in an interview. “There are many examples of low-probability, high-impact disruptions. People don’t believe they can happen, but they do — and there will be more.”

Vendors such as Resilinc and Elementum along with IBM, SAP and Cisco are increasingly coming out with software to help companies protect themselves, he noted.

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Bringing Elegance and Simplicity to Problem Solving and Enterprise Technology Adoption

There’s an old expression, “Don’t work harder; work smarter.” Old as it may be, this is one of the adages of New Purchasing: The answer to complexity does not have to be more complexity.

Is this not the reason for enterprise technology? Organizations adopt solutions that enable their employees to work more quickly, more efficiently and with better organization. Really, this is the same reason that many people adopt technology in their personal lives, as well.

If you’re looking to build a website, you no longer need to code everything from scratch. Instead, services from sources like Google and Homestead can do that for you. With Google Domains, you can easily find a domain and build a website for your business, while their innovation services provide developer tools, APIs and other resources for quickly adding novel features. Similarly, Homestead offers you the means to “Get a site. Get found. Get customers.”

Each of these solutions providers offers you a simple, elegant solution for what seems like a pretty daunting task. Wouldn’t you expect the same technology treatment for improving your enterprise procurement?

Just as building a website for a personal blog or corporate website has never been easier, the same is true for creating an online shopping site. Shopify’s solution can help you to create an online storefront for one product or millions – without needing any specific design skills. With a platform like Mobify, you can even extend that digital marketplace with mobile touch points.

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