Software and Services Gauge Business Performance
Published: October 1, 2007
by Dan Burger
Maybe the "fish story" method of measuring business performance is your preferred cocktail party answer to the question of "How's business?" In the executive conference room, however, stretching the truth tends to get people in hot water. As an alternative, it might be nice to have confidence in your ability to measure and track business goals and more effectively manage businesses processes.
If you believe IT can help achieve better business performance and that better business performance leads to success against your competitors, take a closer look at this package of software and services from IBM. It is called the Globally Integrated Enterprise Assessment, which is IBM's way of saying "if you are weak on integration, you are weak on business performance."
Step one in the assessment is bringing in the IBM experts for an evaluation of your company's current status. If your IT systems resemble the world's largest ball of baling twine and your business processes are misaligned, you will hear about it. Based on its assessment, IBM's Global Services consultants will determine market opportunities, make recommendations, and devise strategies.
On the software side, the Global Services team is going to show up with a variety of tools capable of comparing business processes and performance to industry averages. The industry averages, by the way, are established using industry standard performance metrics and have been compiled from more than 16,000 Big Blue customers.
IBM is prepared to do this for companies in several markets. The list includes banking, telecom, healthcare, and insurance. The assessment software consists of pre-built business service templates that contain industry-specific frameworks and tools. IBM expects to expand this list of vertical industries throughout 2008.
One example of tool capabilities is the potential to reveal that a bank's credit card account-opening process performs well below the industry average. In this case, the software would identify specific areas that may need improvement such as accelerating the application process, reducing errors, or marketing to more credit-worthy consumers.
Tracking performance is done with dashboards that provide multiple real-time views of operations status, processes, and transactions. The capabilities include monitoring people performance during business processes and identifying bottlenecks, tracking other key performance indicators, and features such as a Google maps dashboard that combines geographical data with delivery location data to optimize and determine delivery routes.
It's not a coincidence that IBM is going to suggest that service oriented architecture can bring technology into alignment with business goals such as increased efficiencies, cost savings, and raising productivity. IBM has been singing the praises of SOA--and its WebSphere product line--for years. Through this Globally Integrated Enterprise Assessment software and services package, it hopes to get an opportunity to show companies the importance of examining individual processes and the potential for improvement after modifications are made.
The prospect of automating business processes that are common to a given industry may give IBM a foot in the door with companies that realize they need help determining which resources are no longer needed and how savings in one area can be applied to other business areas where they can make a big difference. For other companies, the idea of allowing Big Blue to get this close to their businesses sets off an alarm.
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