Recently, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said at Forbes CIO Summit that there is a major shift taking place in the global business software space - toward smarter and more predictive software. According to Benioff, analyzing data and suggesting the future course of action are the next wave of business opportunity. With that growth potential in mind, Salesforce has been acquiring a number of machine learning and data analysis startups, including PredictionIO, MinHash, Tempo IO and RelatelQ.
Benioff said "This will be the huge shift going forward, which is that everybody wants systems that are smarter. Everybody wants systems that are more predictive, everybody wants everything scored, everybody wants to understand what's the next best offer, next best opportunity, how to make things a little bit more efficient."
More smarter, more predictive enterprise software. That’s exactly what we’re seeing in the marketplace as well – and it’s an enormous trend. The demand today for intelligent automation and cognitive analytics is unprecedented. We hear it from system integrators who are moving with us into these solution areas, and we see it from our end customers.
Big data has unlocked enormous volumes of information, in-memory databases have made it instantly accessible, and today’s cloud environments deliver virtually unlimited computational horsepower. With all that, what’s a business to do? This has now become the key question.
Determining the best course of action. Today computational capacity is not the problem, and big data is not the problem. The challenge is identifying how to focus resources and capacity in the right areas – the ones most important to your business.
Let’s look at an actual case study where a business applied intelligent automation to analyze vast amounts of business information, and determined a course of action to solve a vital business problem.
The company here is a $10 billion EMEA-based food producer with hundreds of worldwide business processes, facing a two-part challenge. First, how do you make sure that every business process and every supporting application works like it should? Second, how can you achieve that very, very efficiently?
This global food company is highly tech-savvy with systems, data, and analytics spanning every part of the business. What’s unique is how they have combined them.
The enterprise is in the midst of a move to highly automated business process testing, covering every core process – and the company is almost half-way there. The aim is to test every process and app every day, and eliminate the high-severity software defects that have plagued key systems several dozen times over the last 3 years. But in a global business of this complexity, where do you focus?
Getting smarter. The company applied intelligent automation to combine real business transaction data with comprehensive business process maps. With accurate process information and actual transactions, they’ve been able to layer the two and develop “heat maps” to show exactly what transactions, processes, and systems are most critical – and where to focus their testing and QA resources. It’s made their priorities clear and focused their actions and resources to best achieve their objective – which is top-notch business execution with no glitches.
What’s more, now that everything is in place, they’ll be able to apply intelligent automation on a continuous basis going forward. So when processes change or transaction volumes shift, they’ll know immediately and can adjust priorities. Anytime they want.
Has it made a difference? Absolutely. As I mentioned, the company’s transition to high speed testing for their whole portfolio of business processes is only about half complete. But already business-impacting Severity 1 errors are now “hardly seen” and today Severity 2 application errors are typically spotted and resolved within 2 hours – usually before the business team even notices. “We couldn’t do it manually,” they observe.
Without question, the next wave of business software will contain more embedded intelligence, more automation, and more advanced analytics – all things that will drive your firm’s future actions and priorities. In fact, it’s already here. So get ready to catch the wave.