3-Step Change to Business Intelligence

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Photo courtesy of http://www.datapine.com

Today’s market place and business landscape has become very competitive that most companies make use of various business tools and processes that can generate competitive advantage from other companies – creating a domino effect of generating sales, profit, growth, reaching goals and targets and eventually continued company success.

What more competitive advantage can a company get than being able to predict future conditions of the market, the company and the actions of people involved in the company as well? Being able to do this would entail better decision making for the company. These are also reasons why more and more companies and organizations make use of business intelligence and its tools as a business tool.

What is business intelligence (BI)? This includes a wide range of applications, practices, and technologies for the extraction, translation, integration, analysis and presentation of data to support improved decision making (Reynolds, 2010).

Business intelligence works in such a way that data is pulled out from multiple databases, maybe internally from company files and the like or externally from various company touch points. These are then laid out and presented to create useful information for the organization’s use. Examples of this would include spreadsheets, data and reality mining amongst others.

More and more companies spearheaded by their respective managers believe that the use of BI is one key to continued success. Imploring this change in the company’s way of doing things means a step closer to reaching company’s goals and targets. Thus, managers also should encourage more effective use of business intelligence tools. How?  Here’s a 3-step process that may be of help.

First, a rationale why business intelligence is critical in an organization should be clearly imparted to every employee in the organization likewise its corresponding benefits not only to the organization but to the employees as well. Can this significantly impact an employee’s day to day task? How? In the long run, what impact can this create to the organization? And things like that. Also, the company should also see to it that the employees understand how significant their role is towards the use of business intelligence tools and that their cooperation is highly needed and expected.

Second, proper orientation and training of the “how to(s)” should be introduced to every employee. The management should devise customized training programs for employees. This would mean being able to know ways that would enable employees to effectively grasp and understand how to use BI tools.

Third, counter resistance to change through the use of a rewards and recognition program. During this time, employees may also encounter obstacles in using these new tools and can somehow create resistance to using these. The management should be ready on how to properly address these. The use of a rewards and recognition program would also be helpful to motivate employees. The management can reward and recognize employees who have effectively managed the use of BI and have notably altered personal and company performance. The management can also make use of extrinsic factors such as increasing an employee’s salary / wage. These will not only encourage the use of BI tools but likewise motivate them to perform well to the extent of motivating others and become champions of this change.

Surely, encouraging the use of these business tools is a challenge to every company/organization especially to those that consider this a major change in day-to-day business operations. But through the 3-step process presented above can surely be a start for an organization wanting change for success through the use of business intelligence tools.

Reference: Reynolds, GW. Information Technology for Managers. Course Technology, Cengage Learning. 2010

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Online Shopping and Me: Based on Experience

My first try of online shopping was back in 4th year college. That time, my life revolved around marketing cases and plans, presentations, group reports and a lot of research and paper works. As in, a lot! My best friend back then was my laptop and of course a reliable internet connection. It was also during those times that we got to work more in groups. My groupmate then, was the one who made us go into online shopping and showed us its perks.

Here’s how it went. The four of us were working on a paper with our laptops when one of our groupmate pulled out from her bag an android tablet. Back then, android tablets were not so common and a little pricey. We were all amazed and would also want to buy one since it also functions like a laptop plus it’s handy. She shared to us that she got it from ebay and that it’s cheaper compared to those in malls. Right there and then, the three of us decided to make an ebay account and purchase the android tablet. 🙂 Since we bought in bulk, the seller also gave us a discount. Two days after, we all had our brand new android tablets – like a boss! 🙂

Since then, online shopping has become a helpful routine for me.

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Here are a few of the things I have bought online 🙂

One of the reasons why I like online shopping is because it is convenient. I think there is no more convenient way of buying something you need than clicking that “buy” button in a website. The tedious and time consuming practice of roaming around stores and malls looking for the items in your shopping list is replaced by scrolling over a shopping site for the items you need, adding the items to your virtual shopping cart and directing into the check out page for your payment. Several days after, your purchased items are right on your doorsteps at home or in your office or wherever you would want your purchased items to be delivered.

Shopping online is also more convenient when the item you need is out of stock at the retailer’s brick and mortar store. Inventory in online shops are too many that items would hardly go out of stock. One time, I went looking for office shoes in a nearby mall. It turned out, my shoe size was not available anymore. I tried searching for it in an online store and they had the complete set of sizes for that particular design. So, without thinking twice, I bought the shoes online.

Comparing prices of items is more convenient when shopping online. Searching the item would generate a number of retailers for that item, quoted in different prices. It is easier to compare prices and go for the item sold at the lowest price.

Paying for the item is also convenient when shopping online as there also sites which allows you to choose the payment channel. Some online shopping sites would allow you to pay via banks, payment centers, credit cards or even cash-on-delivery (COD). I usually go for COD when this option is available such that I can personally check the item (if it’s the same item I ordered, if it’s free from defects, etc.) before receiving it from the courier. Thus, if it is otherwise, you can immediately return or ship the item back to the seller.

There are also times when online shopping is not convenient or less convenient than the traditional in-store shopping.

As mentioned, there are times when items purchased are with defects or the item shipped is different from what you purchased. This is inevitable since in online shopping, you don’t have the liberty of checking the item before your purchase. It is a hassle on our part to return the item especially if there are no drop-off points indicated for returned items. Thus, when purchasing online, we should always see to it that we check on the terms regarding return and exchange of the item – how to return the item, where to return the item and refund or money back guarantee.

Online shopping is also less convenient to buyers who want the products ASAP. Online sites usually have standard turnaround time from online purchase to receipt of item by the buyer. This usually would take 3-7 days or more depending on the buyer’s location, the seller/warehouse’s location and the courier.

Though a number of online sites and retailers make it more convenient to compare prices, these also make online shopping less convenient at the same time. How? More sellers mean you have to choose which of these are reliable and trustworthy and not bogus. Since you don’t get to examine the product before buying, you should carefully choose a site or retailer that would most likely give you the product as it is expected. Extra caution is necessary whenever the internet is involved; it also follows in online shopping.

Since, my first online shopping experience, I have already purchased a number of items. Some of which I’ve been very satisfied and happy. Though there are some I wish I didn’t buy at all.

Here are a few of the things I bought online / I will continue buying online without hesitation:

  1. Bags. They are usually what you see and read is what you get, most especially if bought in B2C sites. They are usually less expensive online and designs & varieties are always available.
  2. Home necessities such as shoe racks, organizers, storage boxes, etc. They are most of the time up to 25%-75% off compared to mall prices. And always a value for money.
  3. Hotel Room Reservations. Buying these online is more convenient and usually at a lower rate compared to booking through the company channels (even on the company website itself). There are websites that specialize on hotel room reservations / bookings such as agoda.com and bookings.com that show a number of available rooms at a lower rate which are sometimes contrary to the details and information indicated on the hotel company website. But of course we all know that this is legit e-business with hotel companies who agree to pay these websites in exchange of confirmed room bookings for let’s say a month or so depending on their agreement. Anyhow this is still a great deal for us online shoppers.

Meanwhile, here are the products I will have to think twice before buying over the internet. Some of which I have bought but have fallen short my expectations.

  1. As mentioned earlier I have experienced buying a pair of shoes in an online store without thinking twice since they got my shoe size which was unavailable in their local store. It turned out that the shoe size I specified doesn’t fit me perfectly. Lesson learned? Think before you click. Shoes should be bought with prudence since these should be for fitting before purchasing. Online sites should include measurements to give a buyer an idea how big or small the product is.
  2. Same reason with number 1. Unless you’re 100% sure that it will fit you, better think it over first or else you’ll just have to give them away.
  3. Vacation packages / Restaurant Discount Vouchers. You can save a lot of money from buying these because they cost 25%-50% off the regular price. However, validity and legitimacy of these items should be carefully evaluated before clicking the buy now option as various cases of fraud have been reported concerning these products/services.

And below are the products I wouldn’t buy over the internet simply because they are for me too costly for a risk I would take in case the product will not be delivered / is lost / is fake / is defective. My first online shopping experience buying an android tablet is an exception though.:)

  1. Electronic Gadgets
  2. Jewelry
  3. Home Appliance

So there – my own firsthand experience of online shopping! For those who haven’t tried it yet, go! Go online and find something you might want to buy. It may not be as expensive as an android tablet. A moderately priced item can be a start – in case you regret buying it, you can always give it to someone who would want it as a gift or would need it more than you do. There’s no harm in trying but I think you’ll appreciate online shopping in one way or another when you do.  Enjoy!

 

WWW:Wonderful Wireless World

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Photo courtesy of http://www.ist-cascom.org

Wouldn’t it be so nice if all things were wireless? Imagine, the convenience of not having to worry about tangled wires of gadgets’ chargers, headphones, and the like inside your bag? The satisfaction that every mother would feel if all appliances at home are looking neat and clean without dangling wires attached to each and every socket and plug at home? What a neat and organized world this would be – a wonderful wireless world!

 

We may be very far from that wonderful wireless world we are aiming for but not so long ago, geniuses have already embarked on this idea that we are currently benefiting from these – wireless technologies.

I believe at least once in our lives, we have been exposed to these wireless technologies. Embedded meaning in the word itself is technology that functions without the constraint or use of wires.

Yes, I know we are all familiar with our wireless LAN, the WiFi or WiMax which make it possible for us to connect to the World Wide Web, our mobile phones, 3G or 4G transmissions, the GPS, or even up to the simplest remote control we have at home, these are all wireless technologies.

These wireless technologies have changed the way we do things. One example is that, it is now easier for us to carry mobile phones and reach our loved ones, colleagues and friends through voice calls, emails, or even Facebook instead of the old telephone which limits us to phone calls alone. Another very simple example would be, the convenience we experience at home when using all appliances which function through a remote control. There is now no need to stand and push that button when switching from one TV channel to another; no need to get out of bed and adjust the aircon thermostat – all these made possible by our dear friend, the remote control.

Because it has changed how we do things, these also paved the way for various opportunities such as:

  1. Job opportunities. The rise of wireless technologies demanded for experts and skilled workers in the field of engineering, computer programming and design, software creation, mechanic, networking, data analysis, education and many others.
  2. Education. The internet thru the wireless LANs, Wifi or WiMax made way for education and knowledge enthusiasts to benefit from free internet based classes such as courseras, webinars and online master’s programs. Likewise, information gathering and research on any topic have become effortless. Search engines allow us to look into various websites that matches the keywords we are searching for by simply clicking on the search button.
  3. E-businesses. Brick and mortar stores have taken the initiative to invest in e-business for wider market reach. The internet thru wireless networks also made possible the exchange of goods not only between businesses and customers, but also B2B and e-government transactions through websites, portals, blogs, social media sites and many others.

Organizations nowadays are continuously building this wonderful wireless world by capitalizing on these opportunities. In our organization, we have incorporated the following:

  1. Job postings for almost any position in the organization would require literacy and proficiency in the use of computers and wireless technology, in communications or the web since almost all facilities are online and system integrated.
  2. Our website allows clients to be informed of the various products and services being offered by the company as well as educate them of their financial needs and wellness.
  3. We also cater to online inquiries and applications of clients with regards to our products and services. Clients are also given the convenience of transacting online, may this be via mobile phones or computers, by logging on to the clients’ portal. Through these, clients halfway across the globe or within the comforts of their homes need not go to the nearest business center or office.

Indeed, being able to do all the mentioned above with wireless technologies, makes us so powerful. However, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. There should be appropriate caution to ensure safety when using wireless technologies. Here are some to dos that can be used as guidelines:

  1. Passwords are confidential and should not be shared with anyone.
  2. Never click on the “Remember password” button whenever you log on to a website or portal. This is to preserve confidentiality of your password.
  3. Always log out your account.
  4. Ensure that data is encrypted, if possible.
  5. Ensure that you only give away your information to trusted sites and people.
  6. Call the attention of your immediate supervisor or boss whenever you feel that organization data security is compromised.

Since everything is made possible via wireless transmission, information travels faster and the risk of wrong recipients and compromised data security is high. We just have to be extra careful by following certain guidelines like those mentioned above.

Surely, wireless technology is beneficial. It brings various opportunities but it also has loopholes. When use for the advantages of one and the company, it truly can make the world we live in, a wonderful wireless world.

 

Money and IT Security : Things You Don’t Want to Lose

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Photo courtesy of http://www.danapoint.org

Would you entrust your hard-earned money to someone you barely know or just met? The classic answer to this question is of course a “No”. No, simply because of the lack of bond and trust with the other person. And another reason could be that, you can already keep and protect your money on your own.

But with today’s environment and business landscape, a “Yes” as an option is not bad at all. Yes, I will entrust my money to that someone/something provided he or she or it has the expertise and tools to safeguard my money at all cost or even make my money grow. I also believe that this is one motivation why we make use of banks.

We deposit our hard earned money in banks for security and the additional benefit in the form of interests earned. Banks, in my opinion can be compared to that third party known as outsourcing company – a company that provides services that could be provided by company employees, as according to George W. Reynolds (2010), as in this case, we ourselves.

IT security in a company can be compared to our hard-earned money. As much as we want to just keep our money to ourselves, there are times the company needs an extra push to see to it that all integral data, information and information systems and processes are secured which most of the time, the company alone cannot do or is more costly and skills intensive when a company does it.

However, just as our hard-earned money when put in a bank is exposed to various risks such as interest/market risks and the like, various issues are also involved when IT security is outsourced. The following, I believe, are the primary questions the management should ask themselves and should be answered by a “YES” when outsourcing IT security is taken into account:

  1. Don’t we have the expertise and facility to do it on our own?
  2. Is this strategy cost efficient?
  3. Do we know a reputable and trusted company to do this for us?
  4. Can we ensure that information technology security is not compromised?

When IT security is outsourced, the answer to question no. 4 is very vital. Just like in banks, confidential information are safeguarded by policies and protocols indicated in documents signed by the depositors/clients. In question no. 4, yes, we can ensure that information security is not compromised. How? By creating stipulations in our service level agreement that warrants exploitation of systems and all company information.  The SLA pertaining to this section should include clauses similar to the following:

  1. Right of the company to terminate the contract anytime when any of the following is leaked and and/or compromised and/or exploited:
    • Company information such as strategies, processes, information systems, employee data and/or any other data or information deemed by the company as confidential
  2. Fine amounting to for example, the total contract price plus 50% of the total contract price
  3. Case to be filed by the company legal counsel when such situation arise
  4. The contract will not be allowed for subcontracting
  5. The project will be headed by the selected project manager of the company in partnership with the selected project manager of the outsourcing company
  6. The project team members will be composed of the top performing employees of good character and the like

When IT security is outsourced, vigilance of each of the employees and managers is also necessary. On the spot audits can also be done just to see to it that everything is in order. Just as what we do, we do balance inquiries of our bank accounts for our own internal control.

Yes our hard-earned money and IT security on the onset may seem very different but when you look at it closely, similarities do exist. One thing is for sure, they are the things we and the company don’t want to lose.