Business Analytics in action….a seriously cool workshop

BUSINESS ANALYTICS EXPERIENCE

Have you ever wondered what it was like to run a large company? Have you ever wanted to make big risky business decisions with worrying too much about the results? Well, I have some good news for you!

Purchasing and implementing enterprise software like IBM Cognos can be a complex undertaking. It starts with finding the right vendor, understanding how the software can help fix business issues and it continues with obtaining buy-in from the business. Especially the last issue is not trivial. I have personally spent countless of days and nights working with different client sponsors on crafting careful messages about how the new processes and the software will help the business. My personal lesson learned is: selling change is not easy.

THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR

But there is a recipe that works in many cases: Rather than show and tell, let the business experience the difference. This is something we can learn from a car salesman: A car salesman does not spend time talking about the benefits and cool features of a car. No, he offers a test drive. During this test drive, I am able to experience the benefits hands-on myself. I am able to visualize how the new car can help me. If I like the car, I like it. And I know when it feels right.

THE BUSINESS ANALYTICS EXPERIENCE

How does all that related to Business Analytics? Very simple: Together with Roland and Patrick Mosimann (authors of the popular book the Performance Manager) we created a business simulation workshop that allows you to run a fictitious company using the IBM Cognos platform. And let me tell you: This is one fun workshop because you get to run a large company. It is called: The Business Analytics Experience

THE CONCEPT

Future ChipsThe workshop is typically run with groups of 8-16 people. We split the participants into competing teams. The objective for each team is to run the fictitious company ‘Futurechips’. Together with the group facilitator, we start by analyzing the situation of the company. The Cognos 10 platform provides vital information such as a financial review, overview of products, markets, etc.. This helps answer some critical questions such as: Why was the prior management team let go? What is the financial situation? What are the opportunities for the new year?

ENTER THE SIMULATION

How is Futurechips performing?

There is a lot to discover. Futurechips seems to have a bright future but the prior management team made some strange and short-sighted decisions. And it is fun to make these discoveries. The teams therefore get fully emerged into the game after a few minutes. After a short while solutions and ideas spring up. The teams start discussing. And it doesn’t end here: We actually get to make some critical business decisions. What markets do we want to focus on? Which products do we want to invest in? How should we adjust our pricing models? What is our overall strategy for the fiscal year? We do this by developing short strategic plans in IBM Cognos 10. The data that we enter is then fed into a sophisticated simulation engine that provides detailed feedback.

THE COMPETITION HEATS UP

Business Analytics Experience WorkshopAt this point, it is not untypical to see some serious competitive behavior (all in good fun!) between the groups as we compare the results from the first few quarters. We find out that we did some things right. We also find that the teams missed a few points. Plans and strategies are refined. And so it continues. There are more decisions to be made and the simulation continues to provide feedback.

THE BENEFITS

Ok. That sounds good? But what does that have to do with Business Analytics and what does that have to do with selecting software and implementing it? Very easy. The workshop allows the participants to experience how Business Analytics software can help them make better business decisions. Just to be sure: we do not talk about the software itself during the workshop but we use Cognos 10 to perform our analysis, to prepare our decisions and to help develop the detailed plans. The participants use the Business Analytics tools to gain insights and to prepare their decisions.

WHO, WHAT, WHEN?

Who should attend the seminar? Anybody who wants to learn more about business analytics (sponsors, project managers, CIOs, CFOs, business managers) and all those of you who are already implementing the software and who need to sell change within their organization. The workshop is a fantastic way to let business users experience how their work can change. It is just like test driving a new car!

Does that sound interesting? It really is. I LOVE running these workshops. It is a simulation and a game after all. As a matter of fact, we have many returning customers that want to participate over and over again.

Check out IBM’s website for more information and a current schedule of events. Our team is also happy to run these business analytics workshops in-house. Hope to see you at one of these workshops soon!