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Rallying in the Post-Recession Era (Part 3 of 3)

So how do businesses ensure they have the right “sensory equipment” and “analysis capability,” that Brown speaks of, to respond to this whole new world of opportunities and threats in light of today’s post-recession resource constraints?

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I discussed the crucial role of data and a heightened “analytics culture” in an organization. That provides the proverbial “birds-eye view” of what’s going on. It’s data in its aggregate form, calling attention to macro trends. Fortunately, today’s embedded business intelligence tools make that much easier to implement than in prior decades.

But it’s not enough. For more immediate awareness and targeted responsiveness, it is usually necessary for an organization to capture and expose data elements and transactional anomalies that are unique to their processes and business conditions. Those nuances are typically outside the scope of packaged macro analytics.

What’s needed here is a new level of agility, a way to configure some extra bits in and around the enterprise software solution that fine-tunes the company’s “senses.” That capability is available now in next-generation application architectures that include a 100% service-oriented architecture (SOA), business process management (BPM), and some concepts coming to the business world from what’s commonly called “Web 2.0.”

With that foundation, business users can now add fields, modify screens, augment or streamline processes, detect events that spawn notifications or automate actions, and provide role-based views inside or outside an application -- all without "old-school" customizations that left them version-locked or orphaned from support. While the concept of “adding a field” sounds so amazingly elementary, one may quickly forget how very difficult these aspects were only a few years ago. Add to that the new concept of “data tagging,” where any user can tag any piece of data with their own pneumonic phrase and you now have the ability to find, group, and analyze clumps of information on the fly precisely as the user needs it. Late-breaking micro trends can drive your business forward almost as quickly as they are formed. Make some of those private tags public and you’ll soon find that groups of like-minded users discover and act on clumps of information that are relevant, recent, and reusable. Try to do that on a prior generation enterprise application.  

One more concept here worth mentioning before I wrap up this series: the Web 2.0 “mashup.” A mashup is a composite application that allows specific business information and functionality to be combined in a single portal page or embedded within the application. Mashups are topic-specific and/or role-specific, providing multiple data points necessary to understand a trend (about a customer, a supplier, a part, a process … you get the picture) alongside snippets of applications that can be used to take appropriate action without leaving the screen. Such purpose-built windows on the business are easy to create when the underlying applications are built on a 100% service-oriented architecture, from the server-side data structures and business logic right up to the client-side user experience.

In a nutshell, the recent economic crisis has changed business forever. You can either change or pack up and go home. Surely the survivors of the recession are not resting on their laurels – that’s not their style. The rules are different, the market share leader boards shuffling, and there’s a new generation of business applications to help you stake your claim, protect it, and profit from the fertile ground of your ongoing innovation.

Posted by Scott Hays, Director, Product Marketing, Epicor

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