So often IT and finance are cast as adversaries, with the former battling for something the latter just doesn't want to give. So I really enjoyed a recent Computerworld story that relates how IT helped the finance department at Title Resource Group, a real estate closing company, bring down the company's telecommunications costs.
They did it by using business intelligence tools (the article doesn't say what they were) to shed light on a notoriously shadowy area of the balance sheet: cell phone expenses.
Once the company knew what it was dealing with, it renegotiated for better rates with its two primary carriers, a good reason to keep telecom suppliers to a minimum, as I've written before. It also put its employees into three categories, minimal use, voice-only-use and voice-and-data-use, and then tweaked expense policies for these groups. Though the company's CIO won't specify the exact savings, he hints that it's around 35 percent.
Though most of the article focuses on how Title Resource Group cut costs rather than on how it employed BI to determine the scope of the waste it was then able to address, I think it's also a great example of an IT department that was able to demonstrate BI's value to the business.
That's not always an easy task, as I wrote earlier this year. I cited a B Eye Network article on BI business requirements written by Steve Williams of DecisionPath Consulting. He wrote:
(Business executives) see no reason to get excited about business intelligence absent a more compelling business case and more concrete BI requirements that relate to the things they do, like conduct marketing campaigns, manufacture and ship products, buy raw materials, provide services to customers, and so forth. As a result, they underfund business intelligence, which limits its business impact and thereby justifies their skepticism.
It seems like a smart strategy. Target a specific area in which greater transparency will help your company cut costs. Then use BI to provide that transparency.