Making better business decisions

Making better business decisions

CIOs share their advice for making better business decisions

Scenario: Enhancing IT's reputation by using business intelligence to help make better decisions

Murat Mendi, CIO, Nobel Ilac

I am pushing my IT organization to take a more strategic role in driving business goals by heading up a data mining and business intelligence (BI) program to help sales reps and executives make better business decisions. As a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Turkey, we have data coming at us from all directions--things like sales numbers, pricing, doctor's visits, product bar codes, government regulations, and results from specific marketing campaigns. We need to organize, track and analyze this information to have an edge on our competition and make IT a strategic partner.

This new reporting function will allow our sales reps and senior leaders to track sales, gauge the success of promotional activities, and analyze actions our competitors are taking. But right now, we have data from many internal and external sources that is unstructured and stored in separate silos, which must be integrated. We also have to provide enhanced mobile functionality for our sales reps who are out visiting doctor's offices. The most difficult aspect of the project is incorporating the right level of agility--we must adhere to many shifting regulations throughout the lifecycle of a drug, and it's crucial to our business that we remain responsive and up-to-date.

Advice: Create a Governance Model to Track Regulations

Mikki Clancy, VP and CIO, Premier Health Partners

We are using shared governance for each component of our IT processes, including our business, clinical and quality analytics program, which is in its beginning stages. This general framework has been used by IT at Premier for 10 years, and is constructed so executives from key representative functions collaborate to identify the pros and cons, risks, costs, and other areas of concern of an issue. They then discuss the issue and make targeted decisions, create lasting documentation about those decisions, and finally get key stakeholder approval.

Quick response to ever-changing government regulations is also top-of-mind for me, and shared governance plays a key role. We do have one person focused on public policy and government affairs, but there are additional positions throughout the enterprise that are specifically accountable for government requirements. They are members of shared governance committees that tell others about any business process changes required.

Regarding data structures, we have clinical, financial, administrative and quality data sources, just to name a few. We built into our IT strategic plan a step for adopting core vendor methodology for data structures: Premier's core vendors became the sources of the truth. We rely on these vendors as data sources for any items that feed into the analytics structure. If there are exceptions, we use the shared governance model to debate and come up with a decision.

Advice:Embrace Mobility for The Sales Team

Sandeep Phanasgaonkar, CTO, Reliance Capital

I am embracing mobility for BI projects, and we are remaining agile enough to develop for multiple devices on any platform. Reliance sales agents manage campaigns on their mobile devices, with scheduled leads pushed out daily by the CRM system. Agents input highlights of the sales meetings on the mobile app and the details go back into the CRM, which then updates the BI database and provides an analysis of the campaign. This provides agents and branch managers with data for use in business decisions. We have a similar system that pushes cases to collections agents on their mobile devices, and then updated information is reported, via mobile, to the remote system.

When launching a BI program, it's easier to get user buy-in if the system is business-relevant and focused on a solving a pain point or creating a new benefit. Salespeople tend to operate on gut feelings, which makes it difficult to fully trust and embrace BI. But you can't make business decisions on a hunch. We have visible senior-level sponsors, such as the heads of sales, marketing and risk, and the CEO, who believe that BI--with its analytics and forecasting capability--will drive all future data-based decisions. I have done presentations and reviews about the BI initiative across all five companies operating under Reliance Group, and these senior executives were part of the talks I gave. You have to get users to understand that BI is not just being done so you can say, "I have BI, too." It's about making an impact on the business and helping everyone be successful in their jobs.

Mendi, Clancy and Phanasgaonkar are all members of the CIO Executive Council, a global peer advisory service and professional association of more than 500 CIOs, founded by CIO's publisher. To learn more, visit

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