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According to the Chartered Institute of Information Technology, business analytics consulting is a form of consultancy, where the consultant plays the role of investigating a business’s systems, identifying improvement areas in the systems, and then provides solutions to problems identified (Ambler). Business analytics consulting not only provides IT solutions to businesses, but also provides solutions in other areas such as analysis of a business’s strategic needs; policies and market business approaches; and business process modeling and design (Ambler). Generally, business analytics consulting helps organizations to bridge the gap between their business needs and use of information technology to analyze different kinds of data (What does a Business Analyst Do?). In many cases, business analytics consulting services is provided by companies, which are involved in development of computer software and those operating in the IT sector. An organization/business faced with the need of analyzing huge volumes of data can engage a business analytics consultant to help it complete the task. Currently, some of the renowned business analytics consulting include IBM and SAS Institute.
In the case study, IBM launched its business analytics consulting services through a pilot project at TD Securities. TD Securities had a need of improving the performance of its options trading system. Riswan Khalfan, the chief information officer at TD could not find a ready-to-use technology that could suit the job at hand. He therefore agreed to let IBM use TD as a test subject for a research project that IBM had dubbed ‘stream” computing. Previously, TD Securities would only handle between 1 and 2 million pieces of option trading data per second. However, after introduction of IBM’s “stream’ computing, TD Securities was able to handle 5 million pieces of option data per second. This allowed the bank to analyze options trading data as it came in, and make instant trading decisions.
Business analytics consulting is a very important service for executives who deal with large volume of data in their computers, and utilize that data to make routine decisions. For instance, sales executives need to analyze sales patterns of different products and services in order to make decisions concerning where to target customers, which products to offer, and what advertising strategies to employ. With business analytics, sales executives are able to pick apart of the sales data as it comes into their computing systems from the market and make more precise forecasts of future sales. Based on the results, they are able to modify their marketing activities to make them more efficient (Hamm).
Businesses can benefit from using business analytics consulting in many ways. To begin with, business analytics helps a business to realize its optimization objectives faster, with low risk and cost (Business Analytics and Optimization Services). This is achieved through development of an effective information strategy, which allows a business to focus on its internal functions, identify existing and possible problems associated with the functions, and then provide solutions to these problems by modifying business processes, organizational data and applications, as well as business policies and procedures. In addition, business analytics consulting helps to improve decision-making processes. Business analytics creates an environment where timely, accurate, relevant, and actionable information is provided for decision-making. Therefore, an organization does not deal with stale or backdated information when making decisions. This allows an organization to make timely and instant decisions aimed at improving performance in the organization. Timely decisions play a vital role in productivity and efficiency of an organization. Therefore, a business, which utilizes business analytics consulting can benefit greatly through having increased productivity and efficiency.
In corporate computing, business analytics consulting assist business executives to utilize any information available to them about their specific industries to their advantage. For instance, in the sales and marketing department, marketing executives can utilize business analytics to monitor trends in the market and identify changes as soon as they occur. This way, the executives can be able to modify their marketing and sales techniques to achieve growth and/or competitive advantage. Moreover, through business analytics, a sales executive can analyze market data as soon as it comes into his/her computing system and identify what markets to pursue, or how to price the business’s offerings. This is because business analytics assist a marketing executive to identify which markets are more competitive as well as identify the most suitable differentiation and cost management techniques to use in specific markets (Business Analytics and Optimization Services).
A business can also benefit from business analytics by employing advanced analytics and optimization techniques to tackle and solve complex or unique problems (Business Analytics and Optimization Services). This helps an organization to develop proactive strategies as opposed to reactive strategies. Proactive strategies are advantages to a business because they help in enhancing performance and improving operational efficiency. Studies indicate that almost 85 percent of information held by many organizations is in the form of unstructured content (Business Analytics and Optimization Services). This results into increased information processing time, slow response to customer needs, and inflexibility of internal operations. Business analytics consulting help such organizations to reduce information-processing time, increase agility to customer needs, and establish flexibility.
Based on the case study, it is evident that TD Securities was able to benefit from the business analytics consulting provided by IBM. TD Securities was able to increase its information processing speed, from between 1 and 2 million pieces of data per second to 5 million pieces of data per second. The TD’s chief information officer states that quicker decisions are better decisions. This provides evidence that TD Securities was able to improve its decision-making process through the assistance of IBM’s business analytics consultancy.
From the case study, it is indicated that competition in the business analytics business is very fierce. IBM’s direct rival in the business analytics business is Hewlett-Packard, which formed a business analytics unit two years ago. The firm has around 3,000 consultants compared to IBM’s 4,000 consultants. Other stiff competitors of IBM in terms of software intelligence are Oracle and SAP. Over the last two years, Oracle, SAP, and Hewlett-Packard have individually bought various intelligence software players in the market as well as other comparable capabilities. In terms of data mining, IBM faces stiff competition from SAS Institute, which has a very big capability to analyze huge storehouses of corporate information.
From the case study, one of the reasons as to why there is very stiff competition in this business is because analytics is emerging as one of the few bright spots in the passive technology market. This means that analytics business proves to be a very profitable undertaking for firms operating in the IT industry. Studies indicate that the business analytics market is expected to grow in the next few years. According to IDC, a market research firm, a 3.45 percent growth in the $23 billion market for business analytics software was expected in 2009. Similarly, a 2 percent growth in the $45 billion analytics consulting business was expected in 2009. It is therefore clear that the increased competition in this business is to explore the possible benefits provided by the forecasted growth in the business.
Moreover, the growing competition in the business analytics business can be directed towards the increased analytics revenue. Analytics is increasingly becoming one of the strategic fields in corporate computing (Hamm). This is because of the numerous benefits that business executives are reaping from it. Therefore, firms in the IT industry are striving to invest in this business in order to take advantage of the increasing revenues in the business.