Business Intelligence

Summary: Optimation Group offers business analytics services that identify trends and patterns in data. We'll take you through what is involved, and explain how Optimation helped a major retail bank increase growth in lending by 5.7%.


Business analytics is an integral part of how intelligence can be gathered from data. The initial steps in any business intelligence engagement are to set-up the infrastructure and the taxonomies associated with the data. However, once the data is prepared then it can be dissected and reviewed using analytical techniques to draw insights and identify relationships previously unknown.

Most people view business intelligence as an area that involves data warehouses, tools, reports and dashboards. Here at Optimation we believe that for our customers to derive as much value from their BI investments they must look further by asking the right questions that calls for valuable insights that matter, with us helping you to find the answers. We refer to this broader Business Intelligence approach as business analytics.

Why are business analytic services used by Optimation Group’s customers?

Adopting a fresh way of thinking is vital to any new business intelligence project. Enterprises are now producing massive datasets - big data - so traditional approaches to business analytics are no longer adequate. Big data presents more complications so to find the right answers to the problems surfacing in the organisation there needs to be a stricter alignment between analysis and the core business goals.  

Also, having an answer doesn’t necessarily mean we have the right question. Optimation focuses on getting the questions right, too. Our customers use our business analytics services to arrive at both the right questions and the right answers.

What type of business problem does business analytics solve?

Business Analytics can assist with solving most business problems. All businesses have some sort of data they collect. Data can be of the traditional structured form or unstructured form. Analysing this data can help lead organisations to the most effective and efficient path to solving the problems businesses face. For example, a major retail bank  in New Zealand invested in a proof of value project which combined internal data about customers with external data about their mortgage holding with other banks with the aim of improving outbound mortgage sales.

They got the best people together from across the organisation and spent six months developing data structure to ensure the right information was being captured and extracted. There was strong executive support and a strategy with a clear aim. They also invested in external expertise from Optimation. Optimation took just two weeks to do the same work by using our proven methodologies. 

Optimation started slowly and iterated in order to fine tune the system. Within a couple of months there was a significant increase in successful conversion calls. However, there was little increase in mortgage business from these clients who had confirmed a desire to convert. The project uncovered issues with the loan onboarding process.

Once fixed, the decreasing churn ultimately provided an overall growth in lending to the half year of 5.7%.

What type of company should consider undertaking business analytics projects?

Business Analytics (of which Business Intelligence is a subset) means different things to different organisations. Business Analytics can add value regardless of the size or the type of organisation, the tools they have or how much they are prepared to invest. Anyone can reap the benefits. All that is needed is the willingness of the organisation to embrace “evidence based decision making”. The methods, tools and techniques can easily be tailored to fit a range of organisations from small and agile to large and complex. Optimation has a range of solutions that can adapt to wide ranging set of customers and their needs, from working with their own business intelligence platforms to leveraging the platforms implemented within Optimation. By using analytics and data mining techniques, a large number of businesses who have embraced this way of operating are transforming parts of their business, from customer engagement to supply chain management.

Back in 2004, Hurricane Frances was headed straight for Florida. Wal-Mart executives decided this would be a prime time for utilising their new predictive technology. Their IT experts mined their data in order to predict how their sales would be affected by the storm. Based on spending trends around other weather events, Wal-Mart could forecast their sales rates, and see that they should expect their strawberry Pop-Tarts and beer stocks to be depleted the quickest. By identifying these trends it allowed management to better cater to their customer's needs, whilst driving sales at the same time.

What is the process used by Optimation when undertaking a business analytics project for a client?

At Optimation, we have follow a structured approach to business analytics that can flex to suit the varying problems faced by our customers.  Our approach can be executed as a whole or in parts as required, where each step in the process ensures valuable outputs for our customers.

Explore optimise and embed

We have found the explore, optimise and embed steps to be real differentiators in terms of value generation for our customers. These services are rarely offered by analytics suppliers and can be the difference between mere analytical outputs and implemented strategic changes to realise benefits from the analytical process.

What are some of the specialised processes within business analytics?

The three main specialisations within business analytics are:

  • Data mining
  • Statistical modelling
  • Embedding insights

The specialisations within business analytics illustrate the broad areas that can help businesses extract additional value from their existing data investments. Initially, to better understand the data we use data mining techniques to analyse and identify patterns in the data, giving us understanding of what are the right questions to ask as well as which data to interrogate. Once we understand the underlying structure of your data, we can apply modelling techniques to gain insights. In this step we use our analytical experience to find and communicate previously unseen relationships in a relatable way. Lastly, we embed these insights within your business processes. This gives you the power to leverage data driven decision making to drive real change in your business model, fundamentally changing how your organisation operates. This step takes analytics from an academic exercise form to something that becomes much more powerful.

Here at Optimation, we take pride in “operationalising” any form of analytics outputs, whether its high end statistical models or logic based business rules. Operationalising means the analytical outputs are embedded into an organisation’s operating model, from strategic level to operational and tactical levels, so that decisions are based on evidence. It is important to note that this process is iterative. Models and analytical techniques can learn constantly from one another making predictions more accurate. So this is never a “set and forget” approach, but more a “learn while doing approach”.  

What is the future of business analytics?

The future of business analytics will be focussed on data science rather than conventional statistics. This change will be brought about by an increase in the strength of the algorithms and an increase in computing power, which will see seamless transition from the developing to operationalising insights. We are already starting to see the power of the intersect between analytics and computer science in the form of machine learning Previously, due to limitations in computational power, large data sets were difficult to deal with on a commercially viable scale. Increases in computational power has enabled the modelling of massive amounts of data, both accurately and quickly. Deep insights can be gleaned learned from large datasets in a short period of time.

If you would like to discuss how business analytics can benefit your business, get in touch with us today.

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