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työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö

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19.04.2012 09:28

Business Intelligence Challenges

Markku WallinCompanies swear by business intelligence, i.e. management-based on information. It is essential to gain at least a quarterly insight into the development of the operating environment, orders, sales, production, customer preferences, competitors and the economy. While the public sector has the same aim, it has not shown the same intent with respect to making use of knowledge management.

Simply put, cost-efficient business management is equivalent to trying to fulfil strategic objectives. In many cases, activity is restricted to collecting information on problems, rather than improving the effectiveness of methods of eliminating them. At times, achieving measures that we can be plausibly certain of will lead to the fulfilment of the objectives included in the government programme, or the organisation’s own strategy, seems sufficient. The more numerous or significant the measures are, the more important the activity may seem.

However, you cannot always verify whether objectives are met solely through the measures determined and implemented, particularly in the short term. When considering cause and effect, in most cases one is forced to admit that the impacts are only visible over the course of several years. In such a period, the operating environment may have changed so much that failure or success can actually be explained in terms of such change alone.

The social media, or other digital sources of information (e.g. product sensors), offer new real-time possibilities for collecting information to improve and market products and services, and for sales targeting. The same could be said of a service-minded public sector.

Although the direction we are taking is both clear and correct, it requires understanding and the intention to use the information created. For instance, if a company does not understand what customers really need, and fails to take determined action to please them, it will soon be an ex-company. In the case of Finland, the rise and fall of Nokia is a good example of this. So far, things have been much easier in the public sector. However, in the era of networked communications, this will soon be no longer true.

Sources of growth lie in changing one’s operating methods. The only way to achieve this is to take the digital path to the top of the world, and to stay there. In the business world, we are still far from exploiting information to its full potential. In particular, this applies to sales and ERP systems based on the Internet and social media, the comprehensive and qualitative management of customer relationships, and the automatic exchange of information, while fully exploiting the speed of broadband and electronic invoicing. The public sector is trailing some distance behind.


Markku Wallin

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