A-Level Coursework: Information Networks and Business Intelligence

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Health Care -- Information Networks and Business Intelligence - Case

The Marchfield Clinic and Exclusive Resorts cases offer a number of Business Intelligence lessons. Even without considerable it education and experience, there are at least 10 discernible lessons presented in the accounts of their BI developments. There are counterarguments to all the lessons; however, those counterarguments are refuted by research and experience.

Lessons to be learned from the Clinic and Resort Cases about Creating, Implementing, and Using Business Intelligence

The first lesson learned from the Clinic and Resort cases is that businesses must often use Business Intelligence products from more than one company because no one Business Intelligence vendor has mastered all BI areas (Electrosmart Ltd., 2013). As Mantfield states, in Business Intelligence, there is no such thing as "one-stop shopping" (Mantfeld, 2010). A counterargument might be posited by Microsoft Corporation, which has extensive systems and is capable of creating Business Intelligence solutions compatible with existing programs such as Word and Excel (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). That is easily refuted through the examples of Marchfield Clinic and Exclusive Resorts. For example, while Marchfield Clinic praises its SAP BusinessObjects Solutions, it had to convert its "existing 60 Cognos catalogs into new semantic layers" that would be compatible with SAP BusinessSolutions and the Clinic's it people still had to develop clinic-specific functionality from the software (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011). For another example, though Exclusive Resorts highly praises Microsoft Dynamics AX, Exclusive Resorts' it specialists still had to develop "customizations" and "extensions" for its own needs (Microsoft, Inc., 2011); furthermore, some suggestions by Exclusive Resorts personnel proved attractive to Microsoft personnel, who used some of those ideas to further develop Microsoft's Business Intelligence (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). This indicates that even an industry giant like Microsoft has not already developed all Business Intelligence areas. Consequently, a company seeking Business Intelligence solutions must research a number of potential providers and a number of their offered solutions.

A second lesson learned is that a company's internal Information Technology specialists must know the state of the art, as there are numerous potential providers offering multiple software packages with specific limited functions (Imhoff, 2005). A counterargument is offered particularly in the Resort case, as there is ample praise for the helpfulness and knowledge of the Microsoft it specialists assisting the Resort. Nevertheless, both cases refute the counterargument. Marchfield Clinic reports purchasing three "solutions": "SAP BusinessObjects enterprise software, SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius® enterprise software, and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence® software" (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011, p. 3). In addition, Exclusive Resorts reviewed "hundreds of offerings" and eventually purchased "Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services, SQL Server Analysis Services, and SQL Server Reporting Services" (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). In both cases, a knowledgeable and constantly learning it staff was vital to proper selection, development and implementation of the BI solutions.

A third lesson learned is that implementation of the Business Intelligence solutions is expensive (Electrosmart Ltd., 2013). A counterargument, made in lesson ten of this paper, is that proper BI solutions ultimately save money. However, the Clinic and Resort cases clearly show that the outlay of funds for BI solutions is considerable. Marchfield Clinic speaks of "deployment costs" for 50 satellite locations and every participating physician's PC (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011, p. 3). Meanwhile, Exclusive Resorts speaks of prior software licensing fees paid to Oracle that significantly impacted this global company's entire budget (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). Though proper BI solutions ultimately save considerable sums, the sizable outlay of funds for BI solutions is undeniable.

A fourth lesson learned is that implementation can be quite time-consuming on the part of management, it and staff (Mantfeld, 2010). A counterargument would be that this is less time consuming than laboring with outdated business systems for data, services, accounting and management. Nevertheless, researched experts specifically state that the time involved in proper BI solutions is considerable. While the Marchfield Clinic article did not mention any timeframe for implementation, the Exclusive Resorts article mentions the fact that the conversion with SAP BusinessSolutions took 9 months (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). Though proper BI solutions can ultimately save time, the outlay of precious time for research, selection, installation, compatibility, training and management of the solutions are considerable.

A fifth lesson learned is that system-wide use of the new business intelligence takes meaningful education (Electrosmart Ltd., 2013). A counterargument may be that "user-friendly" it experts, such as those from Microsoft, can make BI solutions so compatible with existing systems that little reeducation is needed (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). Despite Microsoft's optimistic claim, the non-Microsoft case gives an example of the need for staff education. Marchfield Clinic had to employ a "train-the-trainer" approach (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011, p. 3) for over 800 end-user physicians and unspecified training for "6,500 administrative and healthcare workers" employed by the clinic (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011, p. 1). Consequently, even with a highly-praised BI solution and very cooperative it specialists, there is still a need for reeducation to most effectively use BI solutions.

A sixth lesson is that management of the Business Intelligence solutions, even after they are established and implemented, takes a substantial number of company personnel (Electrosmart Ltd., 2013). A counterargument would be that proper BI solutions would actually cut personnel, as so many systems would be well-integrated and the duplication of effort in such areas as data collection and entry would be eliminated (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011). However, the Resort case specifically illustrates the need for a staff dedicated to the BI solutions. Exclusive Resorts, for example, has a standing Business Intelligence Team using the Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services, SQL Server Analysis Services, and SQL Server Reporting Services to continually provide "business performance" and "advance reporting" to the company's decision-makers (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). Though some employee positions could conceivably be eliminated with proper BI solutions, more individuals within the company must evidently be dedicated to making the BI solutions work properly.

A seventh lesson is that outsourcing to BI vendors and systems integrators should be done only for the knowledge that a company lacks and that this outsourcing should be aimed at transferring that knowledge to company personnel (Mantfeld, 2010). A counterargument could be that outsourcing allows the proper performance of tasks for less money than must be otherwise spent on employed staff. However, the Resorts case shows the true expensive impact of outsourcing. Exclusive Resorts, in particular, mentioned the notably high costs of outsourcing support services and its conscious elimination of outsourcing to dramatically reduce costs (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). While outsourcing is evidently sometimes required to compensate for a lack of knowledge in the staff, it is undoubtedly an expensive proposition that is best used ultimately to educate staff so outsourcing is no longer needed.

An eighth lesson is that the company using Business Intelligence must anticipate change and be ready to adjust (Mantfeld, 2010). A counterargument, which is more one of practice than of logic, is that many companies still follow outdated business models and attempt to force BI solutions to adjust to outdated models (Imhoff, 2005). The intelligence of adjusting outmoded business models is well-established. Marchfield Clinic's leadership has adopted that approach, planning for "future needs" before investing in its current Business Intelligence solutions (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011, p. 2). Exclusive Resorts also speaks extensively about planning for the future when choosing its BI solutions, customizing the Microsoft platform to provide for future usage and growth of its business (Microsoft, Inc., 2011).

The ninth lesson, which evidently makes the extensive expenditures of time, effort and money worthwhile, is the fact that properly chosen, developed and implemented and managed Business Intelligence solutions can significantly improve performance of numerous systems while ultimately reducing costs (Mantfeld, 2010). The counterargument(s) would consist of all the cautionary lessons 1 through 8 above. Nevertheless, with intelligent selection, development, implementation, education and management of its Business Intelligence solutions, Marchfield Clinic is able to serve 375,000 patients per year, funneling onsite data entry by physicians and case managers, for example, into a centralized system that continually updates information (Konitzer & Cummens, 2011). This improves the data quality, meaningful analysis of the data, and application of increasingly improved systems of patient care, billing and management, among others, while cutting costs of double data entry, delays and multiple data locations. Meanwhile, by careful planning, close partnership with Microsoft and thorough education of its involved staff, Exclusive Resorts can manage its properties worldwide for 3,300 customers and received a return on investment for purchase of the Microsoft Dynamics solution and first-year licensing within 12 months while using its Business Intelligence solutions for: Accounts payable; Accounts receivable; Banking; Fixed assets; General ledger; Purchasing; and Intercompany matters (Microsoft, Inc., 2011). The usefulness and cost-effectiveness in both the Clinic and Resort cases are specifically asserted by those businesses.

The tenth and perhaps all-encompassing lesson is that a company intending to employ organization-wide Business Intelligence solutions must plan carefully (Mantfeld, 2010). A counterargument to careful planning might be management's belief that only 1 or 2 internal systems need to be improved by "patching" a partial BI solution (Imhoff, 2005).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Information Networks and Business Intelligence.  (2013, May 7).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/information-networks-business-intelligence/2457443

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