What does it feel like to run a company? How cool would it be to make really important decisions? How awesome would it be to have all the critical information that you need to get your job done? Good questions? Here is the good news for you: You can certainly experience what it feels like. How? Simply join the Business Analytics Experience Workshop. IBM has developed these workshops together with the team from Align-Alytics and PMSI. Participants get to run a fictitious company called Future Chips. Together with your team mates and a workshop host, you will analyze the past performance of Future Chips and you will get to develop strategic plans, marketing tactics, pricing strategies etc.. But it doesn’t stop there – the business analytics experience workshop gives you real-time feedback. All your decisions will be executed by a simulation engine. It’s quite cool!
The Mini-MBA in a fun format
A participant of the workshop recently said: “Attending the workshop is like getting a mini-MBA. And it’s fun!”. The business analytics experience workshop does teach you quite a bit about real-life business. It is based on the book “The Performance Manager“. Along the way you will also experience what it feels like to have business analytics available to prepare and make decisions. But rather than me describing it in more detail, you should hear from the creator of the workshop. My friend Roland Mosimann is the CEO of Align Alytics. We recently met at the IBM Vision event in Orlando. The team hosted one of the first CFO versions of the workshop.
The Business Analytics Experience Workshop
Come and join the Business Analytics Experience Workshop! First of all, it’s great fun and you can learn a lot. I have hosted close to a hundred of these and I love it. Find out more about the upcoming schedule on the IBM page. You can also read more about the workshop in a prior post on this blog.
Have you heard of the Performance Manager book? If not, you should take a look at it! The Performance Manager is a book that can provide a lot of value to you and your Business Analytics projects. Some people describe it as a ‘Recipe book for Analytics’. Mike Duncan recently blogged about designing dashboards and selecting the right KPIs. The Performance Manager publication is a great tool to help you with that.
First of all, the Performance Manager is not necessarily a book that you read from the first page to the last. No, it is rather a smart compendium that you pull out when you need it. The basic idea of the book is to provide the readers with deep insights and ideas about the type of goals, metrics and responsibilities they need to think about when designing new reports, dashboards and planning templates. The book is structured around the eight primary functions of a typical business (Finance, Marketing, Sales, etc..).
Business Analytics is the number topic for most CFOs and CIOs this year. Fall is a perfect time to catch up on the latest news in this area and to learn about the latest and greatest IBM solutions. The IBM teams across the globe (including my group) are currently busy organizing and preparing four major events and workshop series. If you are currently using business analytics or are evaluating it, you should definitely make time to attend one or more of these events. There will be a big focus on Cognos 10, Cognos Customer Insight and SPSS.
Business Analytics Forum: This event is big – IBM’s annual user conference for the Cognos, SPSS and other related products. The Forum is once again hosted at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. It kicks off on October 24th and runs through the 27th. The conference offers hundreds of sessions about the technology, business best practices and customer stories. There are also certification camps, EXPOs, focus groups and much more. This year we will see a special track dedicated to social media. I personally highly value the opportunity to network at this annual event. This is always a special opportunity. If you have time and budget to attend, you should sign-up soon – early-bird registration ends on August 31st! Make sure to also check out Delaney Turner’s blog post about this event.
IBM Performance: If you cannot attend BA Forum, I would highly recommend to sign up for one of the Performance events. They belong to my favorite roadshows. These are 1-2 day complimentary events hosted across the globe. Sessions and solution showcases help you evaluate, use and derive more value from IBM solutions for business analytics. There will be a lot of demos and information about IBM Cognos 10, along with solutions from SPSS, Clarity and Netezza. I will deliver a bunch of keynotes and presentations across Europe.
Business Analytics Experience: Have you ever participated in a business simulation? This is the perfect opportunity! The Business Analytics Experience workshop allows you to run a fictitious company called Future Chips. Together with other attendees, you will analyze the business, develop plans and fine-tune specific parameters such as pricing, marketing tactics etc.. The workshop is a lot of fun and really let’s you experience what it means to fully leverage business analytics. You can find out more about this in a prior post on this blog. The complimentary workshops are run across Europe and North America.
Best Practices in Action: Being successful with business analytics requires more than just technology. You also need to implement business best practices such as rolling forecasts, driver-based planning and such. Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have therefore developed a bunch of workshops that focus on sharing a lot of proven practices and how to best get started with implementing them. This fall we will focus on Rolling Forecasts, Budgeting and Dashboard Design. You can find out about the upcoming schedule on the Speaking & Events page on this blog. I will update that page as soon as the schedule has been confirmed. You can also find some additional information about these type of workshops on this blog.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to run a large company? Have you ever wanted to make big risky business decisions with worrying too much about the results? Well, I have some good news for you!
Purchasing and implementing enterprise software like IBM Cognos can be a complex undertaking. It starts with finding the right vendor, understanding how the software can help fix business issues and it continues with obtaining buy-in from the business. Especially the last issue is not trivial. I have personally spent countless of days and nights working with different client sponsors on crafting careful messages about how the new processes and the software will help the business. My personal lesson learned is: selling change is not easy.
THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR
But there is a recipe that works in many cases: Rather than show and tell, let the business experience the difference. This is something we can learn from a car salesman: A car salesman does not spend time talking about the benefits and cool features of a car. No, he offers a test drive. During this test drive, I am able to experience the benefits hands-on myself. I am able to visualize how the new car can help me. If I like the car, I like it. And I know when it feels right.
THE BUSINESS ANALYTICS EXPERIENCE
How does all that related to Business Analytics? Very simple: Together with Roland and Patrick Mosimann (authors of the popular book the Performance Manager) we created a business simulation workshop that allows you to run a fictitious company using the IBM Cognos platform. And let me tell you: This is one fun workshop because you get to run a large company. It is called: The Business Analytics Experience
The workshop is typically run with groups of 8-16 people. We split the participants into competing teams. The objective for each team is to run the fictitious company ‘Futurechips’. Together with the group facilitator, we start by analyzing the situation of the company. The Cognos 10 platform provides vital information such as a financial review, overview of products, markets, etc.. This helps answer some critical questions such as: Why was the prior management team let go? What is the financial situation? What are the opportunities for the new year?
ENTER THE SIMULATION
There is a lot to discover. Futurechips seems to have a bright future but the prior management team made some strange and short-sighted decisions. And it is fun to make these discoveries. The teams therefore get fully emerged into the game after a few minutes. After a short while solutions and ideas spring up. The teams start discussing. And it doesn’t end here: We actually get to make some critical business decisions. What markets do we want to focus on? Which products do we want to invest in? How should we adjust our pricing models? What is our overall strategy for the fiscal year? We do this by developing short strategic plans in IBM Cognos 10. The data that we enter is then fed into a sophisticated simulation engine that provides detailed feedback.
THE COMPETITION HEATS UP
At this point, it is not untypical to see some serious competitive behavior (all in good fun!) between the groups as we compare the results from the first few quarters. We find out that we did some things right. We also find that the teams missed a few points. Plans and strategies are refined. And so it continues. There are more decisions to be made and the simulation continues to provide feedback.
Ok. That sounds good? But what does that have to do with Business Analytics and what does that have to do with selecting software and implementing it? Very easy. The workshop allows the participants to experience how Business Analytics software can help them make better business decisions. Just to be sure: we do not talk about the software itself during the workshop but we use Cognos 10 to perform our analysis, to prepare our decisions and to help develop the detailed plans. The participants use the Business Analytics tools to gain insights and to prepare their decisions.
WHO, WHAT, WHEN?
Who should attend the seminar? Anybody who wants to learn more about business analytics (sponsors, project managers, CIOs, CFOs, business managers) and all those of you who are already implementing the software and who need to sell change within their organization. The workshop is a fantastic way to let business users experience how their work can change. It is just like test driving a new car!
Does that sound interesting? It really is. I LOVE running these workshops. It is a simulation and a game after all. As a matter of fact, we have many returning customers that want to participate over and over again.
Check out IBM’s website for more information and a current schedule of events. Our team is also happy to run these business analytics workshops in-house. Hope to see you at one of these workshops soon!