Evaluating BI Services In Asia Pacific

Business decision-makers in Asia Pacific (AP) are increasingly aware of the importance of business intelligence (BI) and broader analytics to business strategy and execution. However, lack of internal expertise remains a significant barrier to BI project success.

In response, Fred Giron and I have just published The Forrester Wave™: Business Intelligence Service Providers In Asia Pacific, Q4 2013. In it, we identified eight companies that offer strong capabilities and services for AP-based organizations seeking BI service support.

To succeed in the region, BI service providers must provide guidance on how to translate data access into actual insight and information into business value. This requires a strong understanding of local cultures, business practices, regulatory frameworks, and market dynamics. When evaluating providers, understand how their capabilities are likely to evolve across five categories:

  • People. To minimize project risks, understand who will be the on-site business and technical leads on BI projects and how many successful implementations this staff has led in a similar industry and similar technical environment within the region.
  • Technical expertise. Service providers need to demonstrate region-specific knowledge of the technical characteristics of various BI tools, platforms, architectures, and applications. Most companies will not have all of the necessary skills on site, so closely evaluate ease of access to remote staff from the service provider as well.
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Manufacturers In China Should Change Their Sourcing Strategy To Improve Business Competence

Chinese manufacturers are repositioning. They’re willing to invest more in improving their core competencies, like R&D and design capabilities, by using outsourcing providers that have successfully served foreign peer companies in the same industry. They must dedicate all their resources — including internal IT systems and solutions like ERP — to meeting this goal.

We recently published a case study on Tagal, a joint venture of ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe and Angang Steel in China. The company was finding it difficult to face up to new business challenges; not only was its infrastructure aging, but its original outsourcing services agreement was constraining business development.

To solve these problems, Tagal changed its sourcing strategy and successfully migrated its ERP system to an Itanium x86 platform to accelerate business processes. The resulting ERP efficiencies enabled employees to process orders and reports twice as fast as before. This has improved Tagal’s relationships with its customers, which are some of the world’s largest automakers. Tagal also reduced its total cost of ownership by 20% in the first nine months alone, primarily due to the simplified sourcing strategy.

How did Tagal achieve these tangible outcomes? It redesigned its service contract and employed three key principles when re-evaluating vendors:

  • Modifying sourcing governance. Tagal drew on lessons that it learned from 10 years of outsourcing. Its new service provider contract contains more penalty terms; for instance, the provider now must refund the outsourcing fee in any month in which it does not fix two system errors within an agreed time period.
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Despite challenges, distributed Agile is possible

As we move to what Forrester calls ‘The Age Of The Customer,’ enterprises will need to reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers, we are seeing a notable shift in what the business expects from IT. IT requirements are increasingly being influenced by the business leader who wants technology to not just enable efficiencies but to also provide an edge over competition by helping to develop things like new marketing and sales channels, and applications that provide greater insights on buyer behavior and what influences them.

By 2020, we anticipate that evolving customer expectations will open up tremendous opportunities for businesses, but at the same time, they will evolve so rapidly that businesses that are unable to keep pace will face the threat of extinction. Therefore, the need of the hour is for speed. Getting software products and services to market quickly, cutting product development costs, while continuing to maintain high standards for flexibility, nimbleness, and time-to-market – this is leading to a tremendous increase in interest around Agile development.

Many organizations have already adopted Agile to some extent within their organizations. According to Forrester’s Forrsights Developer Survey Q1, 2013, 19% of developers stated they use Agile (Kanban, Scrum, TDD, XP). However, most of these initiatives are primarily in-house – Forrester’s Agile Survey Q3 2013 showed that the majority of organizations continue to use Agile more widely in-house, than with systems integrators.

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