Migrating from CRM to Big Data

Big data moved to centre stage from being just another fad, and is being punted as the latest cure-all for information woes. It may well be, although like all transitions there are pitfalls. Denizon decided to highlight the major ones in the hope of fostering better understanding of what is involved.

Accurate data and interpretation of it have become increasingly critical. Ideas Laboratory reports that 84% of managers regard understanding their clients and predicting market trends essential, with accelerating demand for data savvy people the inevitable result. However Inc 5000 thinks many of them may have little idea of where to start. We should apply the lessons learned from when we implemented CRM because the dynamics are similar.

Be More Results Oriented

Denizon believes the key is focusing on the results we expect from Big Data first. Only then is it appropriate to apply our minds to the technology. By working the other way round we may end up with less than optimum solutions. We should understand the differences between options before committing to a choice, because it is expensive to switch software platforms in midstream. data lakes, hadoop, nosql, and graph databases all have their places, provided the solution you buy is scalable.

Clean Up Data First

The golden rule is not to automate anything before you understand it. Know the origin of your data, and if this is not reliable clean it up before you automate it. Big Data projects fail when executives become so enthused by results that they forget to ask themselves, ?Does this make sense in terms of what I expected??

Beware First Impressions

Big Data is just that. Many bits of information aggregated into averages and summaries. It does not make recommendations. It only prompts questions and what-if?s. Overlooking the need for the analytics that must follow can have you blindly relying on algorithms while setting your business sense aside.

Hire the Best Brains

Big Data?s competitive advantage depends on what human minds make with the processed information it spits out. This means tracing and affording creative talent able to make the shift from reactive analytics to proactive interaction with the data, and the customer decisions behind it.

If this provides a d?j? vu moment then you are not alone. Every iteration of the software revolution has seen vendors selling while the fish were running, and buyers clamouring for the opportunity. Decide what you want out first, use clean data, beware first impressions and get your analytics right. Then you are on the way to migrating successfully from CRM to Big Data.

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How Bombardier Inc. scored a Bulls Eye

When travelling anywhere in the world on land, sea or air, chances are, you will travel courtesy of something made by aerospace and transportation company Bombardier based in Montreal, Canada. In 2009, it set itself the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. In other words, it hoped to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it was putting in.

By 2012, Bombardier concluded it was not going to become carbon neutral by 2020 at its current rate of progress. It discounted purchasing carbon offsets because it believed it would serve its interests better by introducing new energy-saving products to market faster. That way, it would achieve its objectives vicariously through the decisions of its customers. But that was not all that forward-thinking Bombardier did. It also set itself the following inward-facing objectives:

  • Reduce carbon footprint through efficient use of energy and less emissions
  • Involve the Bombardier workforce to raise awareness of behaving responsibly
  • Implement sustainable initiatives to further reduce the company carbon footprint

Specific Examples

At its Wichita site, Bombardier (a) fitted a white roof and insulation reducing summer energy consumption by 40%, (b) added an energy recovery wheel to balance air circulation, and (c) introduced skylights with integrated controllers to lower energy consumption by lighting.

At Mirabel, it enhanced the flue-gas management system by adding a pressure differential damper.

At Belfast, Bombardier (a) optimised HVAC systems to reduce pressure on chilling and air-handling plants, (b) installed solar panels on the roof, and (c) obtained approval for a waste-to-energy plant that will convert 120,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste material annually.

By the end of 2013, Bombardier had already beaten its immediate targets by:

  • Reducing energy consumption by 11% against 2009
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emission by 23% against 2009
  • Reducing water consumption by 6% against 2012

Future Plans

Bombardier will never stop striving to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. It has a number of other projects in the pipeline waiting for scarce resources to fund them. During 2014, it continued with energy efficient upgrades at its French, Hungarian, Polish, Swiss, and UK plants.

These include consumption monitoring systems, LEDs for workshop lighting, new heating systems, and outdoor energy-saving tower lighting. The monitoring is important because it helps Bombardier focus effort, and provides measured proof of progress.

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Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a vital component in BC (Business Continuity) planning. Through risk assessment, your company may determine what vulnerabilities your assets possess. Not only that, you’ll also be able to quantify the loss of value of each asset against a specific threat. That way, you can rank them so that assets that are most likely to cripple your business when say a specific disaster strikes can be given top priority.

However, a poorly implemented risk assessment may also cost you unnecessary expenditures. Many risk assessors are too enthusiastic in pointing out risks that, at the end of the assessment, they tend to over-appraise even those having practically zero probability of ever occurring.

We can assure you of a realistic assessment of your assets’ risks and propose cost-effective countermeasures. These are the things we can do:

  • Identify your unsafe practices and propose the best alternatives.
  • Perform qualitative risk assessment if you want fast results and lesser interruptions on your operations.
  • Perform quantitative risk assessment if you want the most accurate depiction of your risks and the corresponding justifiable costs of each.
  • Conduct frequency and consequence analysis to identify unforeseen harmful events and determine their effects to various components of your organisation and its surroundings.

We can also assist you with the following:

Spreadsheet Fraud

To any company executive or business owner, the mere possibility of fraud can be enough to send alarm bells ringing – for good reason. In a prolonged recession, the last thing investors would want to discover is a huge, gaping hole where supposedly a neat profit should have been. Also to find out that such loss was brought about by deliberately falsified accounting and poor spreadsheet controls only makes the situation even more regrettable.

Why?

Because these losses would not have occurred had there been a stronger risk management program in place and more stringent quality control on critical data to begin with.

But given the nature of a spreadsheet system i.e. its sheer flexibility and easy accessibility, plus the fact that they were never intended to be enterprise-level tools, there are no hard and fast rules for auditing spreadsheets. Also because of the lack of internal controls for end user computing (EUC) applications, in this case spreadsheets, you can’t expect these systems to yield consistently accurate results.

In fact, most managers assume that major spreadsheet errors should result in figures that are blatantly out of touch with how things stand in the real world, making these errors easily detectable.

Well they assumed wrong. You’ll find cases where the losses ran to millions of dollars without anyone being the wiser.

In instances of fraud, the problem becomes more complicated as these errors are deliberately hidden and cleverly disguised, perhaps one erroneous cell at a time. Even if these cover-ups started out with smaller figures that may have had negligible impact on a company?s operation, the cumulative costs of these ?insignificant? errors multiply exponentially as the spreadsheets are reused and utilised as bases for other related reports.

While there is no generally accepted definition of the term ?spreadsheet fraud?, its quite easy to identify one when a case crops up. Fraud arising from spreadsheets are typically characterised by:

Fallacious inputs – correct figures are deliberately replaced with false values.

Erroneous outputs owing to data alteration – hyperlinks are linking to the wrong spreadsheets or cells; use of macros or special lines of code which are understandable only to the person who developed the code.

Concealment of critical information – can be done with easy ?tweaks? such as hidden rows and columns, using the same colour for both the font and the background, or hard coding additional values into a cell.

There is nothing really highly-sophisticated or technical in any of these methodologies. But without internal spreadsheet controls in place, it would take a discerning eye and a thorough review to catch the inconsistencies contained in a spreadsheet fraught with errors. Also, if these errors are knowingly placed there, the chances of finding them are close to nil.

Learn more about our server application solutions and discover a better way to protect your company from spreadsheet fraud.

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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