Services 

Inquil

inquiline

SYLLABICATION:

in·qui·line

NOUN:

An animal that characteristically lives commensally in the nest, burrow, or dwelling place of an animal of another species.

ETYMOLOGY:

Latin inquilnus, lodger, tenant : in-, in; see in–2 + colere, to inhabit; see kwel-1 in Appendix I.


          By maintaining a strong relationship with the product development and technology teams within our client companies, we enable business possibilities for the companies. While we are often identified as distributors of software products by our client companies, our services to our client companies actually include

  • Qualification of prospective customers

  • Needs analysis and requirements analysis for the prospective customers

  • Quantification of customization workload for the solution being implemented

  • Research into the possibility of integration of multiple software products

  • Identification of financing possibilities available to the prospective customers, by pursuing exclusive agreements with our client companies

What, Why, How

What

 

What

Why: Reduce Information Turbulence

How

Deferred parsing of business events

Enabling what-if analysis

Event storage and validation

Complete Event Capture

Enables analysis of event context for future planning

 

Intuitive Multitasking

Reduce need to re-initiate or abort actions.

 

Built-In Exception Management Expert

Ramping up expertise of each worker so that he is not generating more rework and communication

 

Flexible Business Processes

Because unplanned events challenge existing business processes

 

Deadline-based exception anticipation

Reduce rework required to achieve 100% service-level

Estimating parameters determining service level using dynamic programming model

Intelligent Task selection

Success in completing a task depends upon the actions it involves

 

Intelligent Capacity Selection

Having access to a market but not being able to deliver certain skill sets can cost a business money

 

Non-queueing theory

Heterogeneity in Customer needs

 

 

 

Inquil's vision

Following are the key bullet points that are a part of our vision:

 

 

 

 

Following are the key bullet points that are a part of our vision:

 

  1. Complete Event Capture -: The challenge here is to capture an event in its entirety. An event usually consists of multiple bits of information occurring simultaneously, and the type of bits forming the event may not be identical each time. Usually, the types of events a system can capture are defined by the interfaces, and the interfaces built are constrained by the underlying schema. So, to achieve complete event capture, this equation has to be flipped around.

  2. Event-driven Schema -: Usually, new types of event continue to challenge the schema that an architect lays down for a particular application/project. One way to counter this phenomenon is to incorporate adaptability into the system, so that the types of events determine the structure of the schema 

  3. Task Identification -: Scheduling systems are often designed to take tasks as inputs. As a result, the system just records whether the tasks are complete or pending. However, within a large database, each blank cell indicates an incomplete task. So, the system needs to recognize and prioritize tasks using the "blank-cell" definition. The user of the system just inputs events, and the system determines unfinished tasks, rather than the user specifying tasks directly.

  4.  Evaluation of Alternative schedules - : At any given time, a particular schedule needs to be assigned an "executability" value, and depending upon the resource constraints etc. alternative schedules need to be available to replace the existing schedule.

  5.  Conflict resolution -: In case different users/entities place different values for different schedules, tools have to be implemented to identify intermediate schedules that are acceptable to the different parties. The solution here will have a flavor of genetic algorithms and game theory.

White Papers

Manifest Management

Why-1

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Manifest management: The Why...

 

 

 

Businesses need to have a plan, and since a business deals with the unpredictable nature of the real world, the plan needs to be flexible. As a business changes its strategic goals and as the tactical resources available to the business change, the business needs to review its plan and modify it. One can safely say that very few businesses will argue against the above two statements. So the two statements should be convincing enough for any business to recognize the utility of a software tool that helps them schedule and reschedule continuously and consistently.

However, one still needs to make a convincing argument from a technology standpoint as to why rescheduling software tools deserve special attention. After all, isn’t scheduling/rescheduling nothing but a different style of reporting information? And wouldn't a schedule manifest just be a new style of displaying relevant information as is any other style, such as a business report, an invoice, an order, a product catalog, a customer list etc.? So if the information is not new, and all we are describing is just another style for displaying it, then why all the hype?

In this paper, we attempt to use analogies to explain why manifest management needs special attention in the world of business management software development.

Business management software helps keep business data organized. One can compare organization of business data to keeping one’s home organized, spic and span. We fill up our homes with all kinds of objects e.g. furniture, utensils, books, instruments etc. We then recognize that our day is spent performing certain activities. We want to be in a certain mental state while engaging in these activities. So we divide our homes into rooms and place items related to different activities in each of these rooms. In a way, business data management has a similar flavor.

When building business management software, one starts with the intention of being able to build a system that enables storage and retrieval of data at a fast pace. One then recognizes that the purpose for which one wants to store and retrieve data only becomes clear once a relationship is realized between the data and real-life entities. This triggers the need to be able to organize data so that the data assumes the life of real-life objects. But being able to convert data handling to object management does not solve the complete problem. Just like one organizes the objects at home between different rooms, one needs to make sure that depending upon the activity being pursued, data objects become available pertinent to the activity.

But what happens when you plan to throw a party? You plan to invite a collection of people into your home. You plan to entertain, and you want to be the best host you can be. You want to use all the tools that are at your disposal to be a good host. The more you try to impose a structure on the party, the less flavorful it is going to be. Your guests will want to explore your home and you will want them to enjoy the personality of your home too. While they engage themselves with your interests, they will also want to learn about each other, most likely through conversations and group activities, with certain level of coordination required. In summary, the less you try to dictate the activities your guests pursue and the more you give them a chance to interact freely and select the activities they want to pursue, the more you are going to be remembered as a perfect host. But once the party is over, you would want to get your home back in order, obviously.

Here at Inquil, we would like to propose that building a manifest is just like throwing a party. You may have figured out how to organize your data by (1) building schema containing entities and (2) data objects for organizing data depending upon the activity you want to pursue. But that does not mean you have understood how to build a manifest for yourself that will guide you through the unpredictable events and your transient intentions during the day.

Why-2

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Reconfigurable Manifests: Factoring Business Strategy into your Tactical Planning

 

 

 

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"

Most people have heard this, but very few business owners pay heed to it.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the urgencies of getting the work done each day that it is tempting to think that spending your valuable time planning is actually unproductive.  The time you spend creating employee manifests is time you could also be spending on your business strategy.  That’s a big sacrifice for the small business owner who is very much aware that “time is money.”

Creating daily employee manifests is an important and critical task for any business owner. However, it is important for an owner to remember that strategy ultimately beats tactics every time. Doing the work is very much a tactical activity. A tactic is a prescribed way of doing something.  On the other hand, strategy is a broader concept. Strategy is an approach to doing something that may involve several tactics. When you are heavily focused on the tactics, and owners who are also owner-operators know this best, the best you can do is get better at the performance of the work. That is, you can become more efficient. The idea behind strategy however, is that you spend your time strategizing to come up with better tactics. Then you can become more effective.

Do you remember in The Raiders of the Lost Ark movie when Indiana Jones is confronted by a sword wielding samurai type, flourishing his sword in an obviously expert manner?  Indie had so far put up a good struggle to escape his enemies, but now it looked like he’d run out of luck.  This is such a good example of strategy vs. tactics.  The swordsman had obviously spent many hours honing his skills and Indie was no match for him in that department.  Do you remember what Indie did?  Instead of having his head dislocated from his body by the swordsman, Indie casually pulled out his gun and shot him. Game over. Tactically, Indie was no match for the swordsman, but he had a superior tool to handle the situation at hand, and a better strategy in his back pocket which made the swordsman’s tactical skills superfluous.  Imagine how adding time for strategic planning could work in your business. What would happen if, instead of working hard on tactics, you had the time for focusing on developing a strategy that simply blew your competitors away? Wouldn’t it be better spending some time on strategy vs. the daily task of creating a manifest for you, your employee manifests and the inevitable need for reconfiguring these manifests whenever Murphy rears his ugly head and once again reminds us of his merciless law.

Creating manifests are an all important part of your business. Reacting to unplanned events and successfully reconfiguring employee manifests in a timely fashion is even more important. Having a clear focus, a set of tasks and times to have them completed, a way to measure the resources and materials on hand, a device to record and warehouse the completion of manifests, and a means of analyzing the histories of manifests is critical.  Your tactical efficiency is all very well, but when an unforeseeable event occurs and you are using old and superfluous tools, you will never win.  Many businesses are stuck in their decade old ways of trying to solve the daily if not hourly need to make changes in employee manifests so they can perform tasks better, more skillfully and more efficiently, thinking that is the only way to get things accomplished. However, an owner who has learned to use our on-demand software, creating and reconfiguring employee manifests becomes less cumbersome and owners can now spend their time to come up with a better strategy and increase their chances to win hands down concentrating now at pleasing their customers and keeping their loyalty.

However, until now, creating small business employee manifests has never been easy and many people waste their valuable time using ineffective business tools that don’t work when time critical rescheduling is necessary.  There is now a better approach to reconfiguring an employee manifest than how small business owners have been used to. If you would like to learn more about how our software can create an effective employee manifest, this paper will tell you all about it. Take some time now to learn how to have time to operate strategically instead of tactically. Now you can let your computer, powered with intuitive intelligence via our patent pending “Reconfigurator” create your employees’ daily manifests. Our computers will now be intuitively performing the tasks we all expected them to be handling in this millennium.

What-1

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Reconfigurable Manifests: Building a Manageable Workplace for Your Employees

 

 

 

In today’s business climate companies are forced to implement sweeping changes in an effort to grow and survive. A knowledge-based economy and global transformations require swift adjustments. This environment presents new challenges and demands for everyone, from the board and CEO to the entry-level employee. Change is and always has been an inevitable part of life. But for most people change and adversity are difficult paths to traverse, especially in our work settings where the challenges may abruptly alter the course of one’s career and lifestyle.

Employees fear losing their jobs, or get transferred to unfamiliar positions. Little control over workplace events triggers increased tension, uncertainty, anger, and other forms of job stress.

Underlying the physical workplace--and exerting a powerful influence on it--is an emotional playing field that I call “the workplace within.”

Effectively managing employee manifests means not fearing or resisting change and challenges, but empowering management and employees with the necessary skills to effectively manage changes. Strategically preparing managers and employees catalyzes better organizational performance – regardless what changes you might face.

Is this issue too “personal” for the business place? That may be the conventional wisdom. But I would suggest based on years of research and firsthand management experience that the answers to many business performance issues lie more with the individual than the organization.

The interplay among individuals, their responsibilities and the corporate culture drives a business’ viability. Effectively managing the workplace within can help reduce counterproductive behavior, improve the organization’s collaborative thinking, increase cooperation among colleagues, and enhance customer service – even in the midst of change and reorganization. Here are several strategies

Prepare Managers – Company leadership must assist managers in understanding the emotional landscape of change and provide them with tools to address issues. Who we are dictates how we perceive experiences, how we react to others, and how well we work together—and how we cope with change. Few companies offer managerial training in issues of change, leaving managers ill prepared and a target for blame.

“Name the Game” – I’ve observed firsthand numerous managers whose unexamined emotions have negatively affected whole work groups and even acquisition deals. Make employees aware of how they express their emotions and how their communication, body language, speech and behavior impact the overall group. Admit up front that there may be a temporary increase in pressure or workload impacting employees and that the company is willing to work in making a transition as acceptable as possible.

Communicate Early and Often – Rumors and innuendo, if allowed to propagate randomly, are extremely harmful. Keep everyone updated on the most recent decisions directly or indirectly affecting staff. This will make employees feel that they are a part of the process. With healthy communication, employees are more apt to remain with the company and often develop an even deeper bond during a time of change.

Acknowledge Emotions – An increased level of empathy and understanding is important and must be felt from the top down. People expect life to be easy and when it is not, they need assurances that employers are concerned and will do as much as possible to assist them during unsettling times.

Increase “Emotional Intelligence” Companywide – At the same time, making employees aware of their own feelings is just as important. Without a good grasp and understanding of our feelings, we often manifest anger in counterproductive behavior. Encourage employees to dissipate stress in a productive manner by doing more of the things they enjoy, like exercising, volunteering, spending time with family.

Perhaps most importantly, you will also want to help them understand that they ultimately have control over their lives and that allowing emotions to control decisions can be detrimental. As an investment banker, I once watched a deal unravel because the sellers were so emotional and volatile that the buyers simply lost confidence in their ability to manage the company going forward; they walked away from a deal that made every bit of sense “by the numbers.”

Even with a recovery underway, it’s unlikely that life in business--for organizations and for individuals--is going to get any easier. Change will be continual, confronting us in waves. Negotiating these changes and challenges effectively on the outside will require all of us to be effective managers of that other, hidden workplace--the workplace within.

What-2

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Strategic Planning: Selecting Performance Indicators

 

 

 

What should you measure?  This is an area that makes all the difference in developing effective management and performance control systems.  In small businesses, the tendency is to not measure much at all, because it takes time and effort to record and analyze information, not to remind you of the time needed to deal with those pesky manifests. In a small business, where productivity is critical to success, it is often seen as unproductive to spend time recording and measuring.  However, the adage, more haste, less speed applies here.  The need for speed can lead to confusion and lack of productivity if there is no clarity.  It doesn’t help how fast you are going, if you are going in the wrong direction, or around in circles, which is what happens in many small businesses. It does help when the speed of your software tools and their unbiased suggestions offer the clarity that is essential for your businesses’ success.

Many small businesses get stuck and don’t make progress because they fail to keep track of even the most essential performance numbers. In any business, there are a number of critical activities which make a difference.  You should at least have software tools that can measure your critical success factors without bias.  Do you know what the critical success factors are in your business? Few business owners are able to answer that question adequately. If there is an activity that is critical to the success of a business, it should be measured to keep track of performance in that area.  If you are not sure, the first thing you need to do is to determine what your critical success factors are.  Then utilize our software tools to measure performance for each of them.  Typically, there may be 6 to 10 critical success factors in any business; in sales and marketing activities and in operational areas.

While some numbers are critical to know, there are other numbers that are useful to know.  These help you keep track of performance so that you can see where you need to improve performance, or to set targets for performance improvement when the numbers are already OK.  This is how the best companies get ahead and stay ahead.  It is still important to not get bogged down with all this measurement, recording and analysis, but it is important that you have the right software tools to be the foundation of good control systems so your can prevent and minimize the potential for headaches.  Critical success factors need to be measured more frequently, perhaps weekly, daily or even hourly in some cases. Other good-to-know numbers may be measured less frequently, perhaps monthly or even annually. Most importantly, theses factors can be successfully measured and analyzed with our web based Reconfigurator software. Our software will transform your businesses’ computer into a an intuitive computerized business system.

Without these systems in place to keep control of performance and to identify areas that can be improved, you are really flying by the seat of the pants in your businessAnd if your business grows to the point where you can’t physically be aware of what is going on, you will be flying blind as well.  Getting and keeping control is one of the keys to small business success and one of the critical reasons for powering your business with Reconfigurator software offered by Inquil Solutions.

What-3

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Growing your team: Crossing the management barrier

 

 

 

A major barrier to small business success that limits business growth significantly is the failure to develop adequate control systems.  When a business is small, say less than 5 employees, it’s not too difficult for the owner to keep track of what is happening.  Most of the time, at that level, the owner can see or hear what employees are doing.  However, once the business starts to grow beyond the point where the owner can be physically aware of what people are doing, the problems begin to grow as well. Couple this with the cumbersomeness and time consumption in creating and reconfiguring work manifests for 5 or more employees and it is no wonder that small businesses sit precariously on a fence of chaos.

Many small business owners don’t want their business to grow too big because they don’t want the headaches that come with having a big business.  However, this comment comes from a lack of awareness of how to actually grow and manage a business successfully.  Staying small also has its share of headaches, especially when you are good at what you do and are creating a growing demand for your products or services.  The best answer to the issue of how to manage business growth is not to keep it small, but to learn how to keep it under control.

Business owners who are used to keeping control by being able to see or hear what everyone is doing need to adjust their sights and have our web-based software look at your businesses key numbers instead of you, the owner, keeping a personal eyes view on your employees activities.  Often in the smaller business, simply checking what people are up to often does not uncover the truth about productivity.  People can appear to be busy, but this does not mean they are being productive.  Activity must not be mistaken for productivity. There is only one surefire way to control productivity and that is to have a means of finding out the answer to this question: “How much?”  A variation of this question may also apply and that is, “How well?”

The old management adage goes like this: what you can measure you can manage. It is really only possible to control and improve productivity in a business when you actually measure how much has been achieved.  Subjective judgments through observation alone are insufficient and often biased. Objective measurements don’t lie. You can’t be fooled by the pretense of activity when you observe results as our software measures and analyzes your businesses’ manifest histories. Wonderfully, the more you use our software, the more intuitive it becomes and the entire process gives you greater anticipation and assures you of greater control over your business.

Contingency Theory

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Rescheduling using Contingency Theory

 

 

 

When managers try to develop complex products with many interdependent subsystems quickly, the high event information processing load this creates can cause organizational failure. There is currently no way for managers to tell when the incoming events impacting a project team are great enough that the risk of organizational failure has reached unacceptable levels. Engineers use the Reynolds number in fluid mechanics as a metric that predicts whether the flow of a fluid will be smooth and stable versus turbulent and chaotic. This paper describes an initial attempt to design a tool to lessen the cumbersomeness of entering event information, tracking the flow of this information, defining new trends, and discovering the pertinence of the new relationships which were created when this event information interacts with previous data. An “organizational Reynolds number” that uses various organization and work process parameters to predict whether a project team is approaching the turbulent event information flow regime and is thus at risk of organizational failure could be part of the positive results as we discover the correct way of entering event information into the system.

Organizations with limited resources are assigned the challenge of dealing with unexpected events faster than ever before. The high event information processing load generated by event complexity, task interdependence, and excessive schedule pressure can overwhelm a project team. An inability to intelligently enter event information produces errors, poor decisions, and bad communication that can quickly spread through the work processes and project teams, resulting in additional coordination and downstream rework that can cause quality meltdowns and organizational failure.

Project failure can lead to product failure as well. The prototype Lockheed Launch Vehicle called for five-to-one schedule shrinkage from Lockheed’s prior military launch vehicles and required outsourcing of a key component to save costs. The vehicle launched four months late and had to be detonated in the atmosphere (Levitt, 1999). The failure was not due to a technical challenge or the use of inexpensive materials; the problem arose from a small cable harness team in Alabama that was under intense time pressure. In the face of frequent changes to the concurrently evolving avionics design, the cables subcontractor became overwhelmed with coordination responsibilities and was unable to complete its task successfully. If management could accurately diagnose potential areas of failure, it could proactively try to prevent them by changing the design of the organization to handle the input of event information load. Engineers use the Reynolds number in fluid mechanics as a metric that predicts whether the flow of a fluid will be smooth and stable (laminar flow) versus unstable and chaotic (turbulent flow).Event Information flow throughout an organization acts in the same way – sufficient organizational capacity will allow for good event information flow through a team while an overwhelmed group will suffer from turbulent event information flow and risk total failure. A metric similar to the Reynolds number that could determine if the event information flow through an organization was going to be efficient and reliable versus inconsistent and chaotic would help management assess the risk of organizational failure. The goal of this research is as follows: Use eventualreality.com an on-demand platform to help in your company’s rescheduling dilemmas and aid in predicting when an organization is at the risk of failure.

Event Capture

Why-1

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Business management and total event capture

 

 

 

As owners or managers of enterprises, either in a manufacturing business or in the service industry, at least part of our working day is spent scheduling appointments, shipments, deliveries and meetings. And, we can all agree that if we schedule things, somewhere down the line we all have to reschedule things. Now I am sure we all have normal business days, days that are not so normal, and days that are downright nightmares. Most of the time, these situations come about with unexpected occurrences or what we will refer to as events. These events may have immediate implications and possible repercussions further through the work day, week, or month. If not solved in a timely manner, unscheduled and missed appointments or tasks can be a very costly problem, both monetarily and well as in decreased commitments from involved business partners. As if out of nowhere, all of our business procedures may no longer be working in tandem and chaos can begin. Most of us can probably recall a typical day soon becoming a ride on a crazed horse galloping towards a blazing barn. For most of us it occurs all too frequently. An unforeseen event can get very expensive.

There are many companies claiming that they have solved the problem of rescheduling. One says their automated telephone appointment scheduler handling thousands of calls per minute is the answer. Others claim that providing a sophisticated web-based subscription service is the solution. Yet another says their highly configurable what if rapid analysis computer application will do the trick. There are also hundreds of gadgets on the market promising to help solve your rescheduling needs. But the problems persist and new events keep occurring and occurring like a snowball rolling down a mountain: gathering speed, size, and dangerousness: heading straight towards your business.

One approach to addressing this rampage of multiple multi-faceted events at your business is to control the kinds of events your business is designed to cope with. The ‘mantra’ over the last half a century has been to standardize business processes, through globalization, franchise setups and inter-business relationships. The biggest innovation over the last one and a half decades in business has been the internet, primarily because it enables standardization of business processes across a larger market segment than was ever imaginable before. However, the availability of this approach does not imply that chaotic events no longer influence business processes. It is just that a business can now choose to spend enough resources at capturing a large enough market segment through standardization of business processes, so as to not to have to worry about events that fall beyond the boundaries of the scope of the business processes. Customers demanding special business unforeseen needs are left stranded, having to maneuver around business processes to meet their needs through ad hoc planning and rescheduling.

Thus, the rescheduling dilemma continues, not because the problem has not been defined correctly, but because appropriate technologies for addressing it do not exist. We at Inquil say the problem has not been addressed correctly. If you are a small business, for example, you recognize that your customers rely on you for meeting their special needs, even in the presence of large global businesses. Although automated systems, web-based solutions, computer programs, and gadgets all perform functions that may make your business and personal lives more productive, most of you can tell each other stories about how these computer programs, websites and devices are not really satisfactorily facilitating finding solutions for your continuing rescheduling nightmares. At Inquil we have discovered that the problem is in developing the correct way of capturing event information. Existing scheduling solutions involve information storage or information handling. At Inquil, we not only believe the problem is with event information input but we are pleased to announce that we are well on our way to solving this problem. Soon we will be offering you real solutions to yours and everyone's daily dilemma-successfully dealing with the complexities of rescheduling.

What

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

 

 

 

Recording Business Events – Flexible Input and Deferred Parsing

 

 

 

You need and should have as much control that’s available over the events in your business. Utilizing our cutting edge software-based rescheduling program will not only lessen the cumbersome task of entering event information into your computer-it will help create a whole new way of translating this event info: so it can be now be truly compared with your existing info (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) Until now, no one has successfully addressed or solved the problem of taking this very unique event information and interfacing it with your computer’s existing information so that successful rescheduling can take place. Solving this problem will mark the advent of a huge jump in the progress of creating true computer intelligence-intuitive intelligence.

We are saying that the system should not be designed based on some static interpretation of how information needs to be stored in a relational data base-the system should be designed by recognizing the nature and the dynamics of the information coming in. Events happen and we have to recognize those events.

When you set up a business you set up business processes -and a business process is not composed of facts; it supposed to respond to events. Events need to be parsed in the context of other events for determining facts. So, what we need are not facts tables-we need events tables: tables that store event information. Now, that event information has to be translated into factual information (facts tables). That should become the rule of the software: you just fill in the event tables- you don’t have to think about the fact tables: the event tables get translated into fact and relation tables. Again, we are defining an entirely new technology which is related not to information handling or information storage but data input, specifically event-driven data. Events are occurring- Information is changing- and because information is changing-relations are changing. But, if you do not recognize the nature of change in information you cannot build the right kind of technology to handle it.

Once we began to recognize that some information comes in as events (not facts) we started building a system that is very conducive to re-scheduling. To build a real re-scheduling system you cannot even start without having this event input factored in. (see fig. 1)-“event-driven information”- information that can easily be filled out on a form supplied within our software—a form we will refer to as an “event form”-a form that will not only be utilized to help solve your present event driven rescheduling dilemma- it will also be stored along with all other event tables to be compared and contrasted to aid in the solutions of future rescheduling scenarios, help discover and identify trends, and forecast the timing of some future rescheduling complexities.

In this context of events and relationships we are saying that a system with a fixed set of relationships is bound to be more limited in terms of anticipating future scenarios than a system where events are stored and the relationships are reconfigured depending upon the dynamics of the events. That’s the component we are trying to get to by redesigning the system and redefining the state of the art of computer intelligence. That’s the component we are trying to get to by redesigning the system.

Why-2

Importance of Event History

 

 

Importance of Event History                     


 

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana (1863 - 1952), The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905                   
 


"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted; it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience. "
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905                                                       
 

“Those who do not learn from event history are doomed to repeat tasks, deplete resources and defeat objectives.”...  
 

“Those who cannot store events are doomed to repeat tasks”

Intuitive Decision-making

The Value of Better Decisions

The Value of Intuitive Decisions in Your Organization                                    

In every organization, employees make hundreds of decisions each day. They can range from whether to give customer X a discount, whether to start producing part Y, whether to launch another direct mail campaign, whether to order additional materials, etc. These decisions are sometimes based on facts, but mostly based on experience, accumulated knowledge, rule of thumb, and the continuing daily events related to the organization’s success or failure.

That poses a problem because experience, knowledge, and rule of thumb can take years to develop. Some employees never acquire these skills and they cannot afford avoiding the repercussions of events. Those who do may still fall prey to decision traps or biases in judgment. Improving the quality of business decisions has a direct impact on costs and revenue. For instance, giving a customer a discount may or may not help the bottom line, depending on the profitability of the client over the duration of the relationship. To improve the quality of decisions, managers can:

Option: Do critical tasks themselves.

Result: This leads to burnout, bottlenecks, and opportunity costs of not doing more strategic work.

Option: Hire additional skilled staff.

Result: This increases costs dramatically.

Option: Attempt to define a policy for all possible decisions.

Result: This leads to decisions that do not meet with the rapidly changing needs of the business.

Option: Give existing staff the tools to make intuitive decisions, based on their ability to enter time-critical event information on correctly formatted event forms: this, combined

with a continuously up-dated event history creates an intuitive computer system capable of suggesting time-critical tasks.

Result: Properly inputted e, combined with a continuously up-dated event history creates an intuitive computer system capable of suggesting time-critical tasks.

This creates an agile enterprise and is the most cost-effective solution.

The Means to Making Intuitive Decisions

The ability to input event information is the key to allowing employees to utilize computers to make rapid intuitive good decisions. What is a good decision? A good decision can be defined as one that helps the organization move closer to its goals. But how do employees know if the decision they are about to make will help the enterprise meet its objectives? They need tactical and strategic information: defined by correctly inputting events, event histories, along with an intuitive computer system. All employees can utilize event information to adapt tactical and strategic planning.

For example, how do you define the work of a stonemason?

• Is he placing stones side by side and cementing them together?

• Is he building a wall?

• Is he building a cathedral?

Each job description is also an event. But by focusing on the third definition, the mason will understand the goal and the context of his task, not to mention find his work more interesting. Give him up-to-date event information on how the rest of the building is progressing, how many stones he has left, and how other masons did his job in the past, and he will be able to utilize event history and an intuitive computer system to make better on-the-fly decisions in response to changing work conditions. This observation holds true for any type of employee.

Event information presented in the context of tactical and strategic planning is a powerful motivator and enabler.

Are we meeting our objectives?

Increasingly, managers’ incentive plans are based on quantifiable objectives, such as profitability, percentage of on-time deliveries, proportion of satisfied customers, etc. However, managers often have limited ways of knowing whether they are progressing toward their objectives. At the end of the year, they receive their bonus, and are told how well they did. They may be pleased or disappointed, but they have little way of predicting the impact of their actions on corporate welfare.

Management by objectives (MBOs) only works if the employee has a way to monitor his own progress in reaching his objectives. With intuitive business intelligence (IBI), each user having access to event forms and event histories has the means to see how his or her actions impact the overall corporate profitability. Complex incentive plans may not be as necessary if employees, at any time, can see which of their actions improve or hurt overall performance.

The Case for Intuitive Business Intelligence

You understand the value of making a better decision and how giving your employees greater access to event information can empower them and yield even greater results. Now it’s just a matter of finding out how an IBI solution can make that notion a reality. This document will supply you with the knowledge you need to gain a complete understanding of all the issues you will face when implementing a IBI solution. The brochure is divided into three sections. The first section gives you a clear definition of the term intuitive business intelligence and highlights the characteristics of an IBI deployment. The second section outlines the three most common benefits you will gain from an IBI solution. The third section looks at the issue of measuring the benefits of IBI and explains how you can justify your IBI investment. Throughout this document, you’ll find numerous examples of current INQUIL customers who are using IBI in a wide variety of creative ways to make their organizations more responsive, productive, and profitable.

What is Business Intelligence?

The Vision

An account manager, on her way to a client visit, looks up past proposals, as well as the client’s ordering, payment, delivery, support, and marketing history. At a glance, she can tell that the client’s ordering volumes have dropped lately. A few queries later she understands that the client has a support issue with a given product. She places a call to her support department, and learns that the defective part will be replaced within 24 hours. In addition, the marketing records show that the client recently attended a user conference and expressed interest in the new product line. The account manager is now fully prepared for a constructive sales call. She masters all aspects of her client’s relationship with her firm, understands the client’s issues, and can confidently address new sales opportunities.

The Problem

Vast quantities of data...

As businesses increase their reliance on enterprise systems, they are rapidly accumulating vast amounts of data. Every interaction between departments or with the outside world is an event; historical information on past transactions, as well as external market information, is cumbersomely entered into information systems for future use and access.

...Yet very few answers

With all this data available, it’s surprising how difficult it is for managers to get a clear picture of relevant fundamental business information, such as inventory levels, orders in the pipeline, or client history. In most organizations, it would take the account manager, in the example above, hours or days to get answers to her questions.

Many organizations contain disparate silos of information. Client orders and payment records are kept in the accounting system; installation and support information is stored in the customer service database; contact management software tracks the proposals and sales call history; and marketing contact history is kept by marketing. Rarely do these systems speak the same language, and there is no simple way for a non-technical user to get answers quickly.

The Solution—Intuitive Business Intelligence

Intuitive Business Intelligence refers to the use of our unique technology that collects and effectively inputs event information to improve business effectiveness.

The different information systems described in the previous section may be successful at helping users accomplish specific tasks, but they’re typically not well suited at providing information to end users. With intuitive business intelligence, users will be able to reconfigure daily event information and event histories to fuel an intuitive computer system. This will create true objective business knowledge, and translate this knowledge into anticipation, control and profit.

So what is intuitive business intelligence? IBI enables your organization to track, understand, and manage your business by successfully entering event information in order to maximize enterprise daily performance. With IBI, organizations are able to improve operational efficiency, build profitable customer relationships, develop differentiated product offerings, and predict trends.

In enterprise networks, IBI provides employees the ability to input time critical event information to help make better business decisions, and can be used in environments ranging from workgroups of 20 users to enterprise deployments exceeding 20,000. In an extranet environment, IBI is available on demand: this allows organizations to deliver new services and build stronger relationships with customers, partners, and suppliers via the internet.

In enterprise performance management (EPM), organizations must understand and have constant visibility into their key performance indicators and metrics that span across their organizations. By doing this, organizations ensure their strategy is aligned from top to bottom and across the organization from marketing to sales to manufacturing to human resources. Providing this enterprise insight is a key strength of IBI.

The Characteristics of an Intuitive Business Intelligence Solution

Single point of access to event information

With IBI systems, organizations can unlock event information held within their databases by giving authorized users a single point of access to event data—a IBI portal—in both intranet or extranet environments. Wherever the event data resides, whether it is stored in operational systems, event data warehouses, event data marts and/or packaged applications, users can prepare reports and drill deep down into event information history to understand what drives their business, without technical knowledge of the underlying data structures. The most successful IBI on-demand applications allow users to do this with an easy-to-understand, non-technical, graphical user interface.

Using IBI in all departments of an organization                                   

There are many different uses for IBI systems. Our example at the beginning of this section focused on one specific application: sales. However, as illustrated below,

IBI systems can be used at every step in the value chain.                       

Pressed4Time: The company uses IBI to track, understand, and manage event data in every department—from finance, production, and development, to research, sales and marketing, and purchasing. Users at all levels of the organization access supplier and customer reports relating to online requests and negotiations, marketing launches, and franchisee customer capacity management and tracking, all via our on demand platform.

Timely answers to business questions

The key to unlocking the power of event information is to give users the tools to quickly and easily find answers to their questions. Some users will be satisfied with standard reports that are updated on a regular basis, like current inventory reports, sales per channel, or customer status reports. However, the answers these reports yield, can lead to new questions. Some users will want dynamic access to event information. The information that a user finds in a report will trigger more questions, and these questions will not be answered in a prepackaged report.

While users may spend 80% of their time accessing standard or personalized reports, you will find that for 20% of their tasks, they need to go elsewhere to obtain additional information not available in the original report. To address this need and to avoid end user frustration (and related report backlog for the IT team), an IBI system offered on demand is required that lets users autonomously make ad hoc requests for information from corporate data sources.                                                                                                             

Making the most of the internet by creating an extranet

You can open up IBI system access to users outside the organization through extranet applications with clearly defined security limits. For example, customers may want to consult their ordering history to analyze their buying patterns and identify cost-saving opportunities. Or suppliers may be interested in gathering sales data.

MasterCard International: For merchants, access to IBI offers the opportunity to monitor their businesses more closely on a day-to-day basis. Advertising agencies are able to use information from the extranet when developing campaigns for merchants. On the authorization side, a call center can pull up cardholder authorization transactions to cut down on fraud. MasterCard expects that in the long term and as business partners increasingly demand access to system data, the system will support more than 20,000 external users.

 The Benefits of Intuitive Business Intelligence

Because of the wide applicability of IBI in both enterprise and extranet deployments, the business benefits are numerous. These benefits can be grouped into three main categories: lowering costs, increasing revenue, and improving customer satisfaction.

And this list is far from exhaustive, since empowered users continue to find new ways to implement IBI.

Lowering Costs

Improve operational efficiency

By giving internal or external customers access to real-time event data over the web, customers can track their own accounts and answer their own questions. As a result, customer satisfaction is improved while reducing support costs. A significant, added benefit to real-time event data access is that data becomes much cleaner. By reviewing the data themselves, customers can spot errors, and help improve the quality of the information in the event data warehouse.

A leading dry cleaning delivery company: Today, the organization's customer care extranet allows customers to access their account information over the internet; however, it used to be that the company would send paper reports to all of its customers. Any errors in the reports would take one to two months to correct because customers would first have to receive the report, catch the mistake, and then notify the company of the error. Now customers spot the errors themselves in real time and notify the insurance company directly through the extranet, usually within a couple of days or less.

Eliminate report backlog and delays

Intuitive Business Intelligence allows business users to design their own queries and reports, allowing organizations to redeploy the programmers who formerly performed this task. This can generate significant cost savings in human resources, since sought-after staff can be reallocated to projects that add more value to the organization.

Handspring, Inc.: “The Company receives event data from such partners in multiple formats and a variety of systems, so it needed to consolidate and analyze data to give employees better information for decision-making. [With IBI, Handspring] can now generate reports on items such as web orders, bookings, billings, backlog, and shipping activities in less than one day, versus weeks before.”  

Do 20% of your products account for 80% of your sales? If you don't know, intuitive business intelligence can give you the answer.

Negotiate better contracts with suppliers and customers

A solid grasp of facts and figures is invaluable when it comes to negotiating contracts with suppliers and customers. For instance, by analyzing event histories, supplier performance, on-time delivery trends, percentage of rejects, and price changes—you are in an excellent position to discuss all aspects of the contract as well as possibly negotiate volume discounts. And identifying a customer's spending patterns could qualify him or her for a particular packaged deal.

Shell Services International: With its IBI solution, Shell was able to access event information about revenues between fuel and non-fuel business. Seeing that

20% of their products were delivering 80% of their sales, Shell made significant improvements in margin and turnover. They also negotiated better deals with suppliers and improved product master file management, which helped them reduce working capital.

Find root causes and take action

If one division is doing better or worse than others, identify the root cause and either implement a best practice or fix the problem. Was the problem caused by better/worse management? A regional market trend? A new sales strategy?

With IBI, you can find root causes both to problems and to best practices by simply asking “Why?” The process is initiated by analyzing a global report, say of sales per quarter. Every answer is followed by a new question, and users can drill deep down into a report to get to fundamental causes. Once they have a clear understanding of root causes, they can take highly effective action.

                                     

Using IBI can turn open questions into specific answers.                                                        

Identify wasted resources and reduce inventory costs

You can use IBI to apply activity-based costing methods to identify hidden costs or missed opportunities. From these findings, resources can be allocated to highly profitable products, customers, and projects, thereby increasing the bottom line.

Also, referring to event histories, one gains a clearer understanding of success of promotions can help to effectively monitor inventory levels.

TruServ: The parent company of True Value Hardware “has used IBI software to improve efficiency of its distribution operations and reap a $50 million reduction in inventory costs.” “The marketing department uses [IBI] to track sales promotion results such as which promotions were most popular by store or by region. Now that TruServ is building promotion event histories in its databases, it can ensure all stores are fully stocked with adequate inventory during an event.” TruServ “was able to achieve a return on investment in about five to six months.”4

Leverage your investment in your ERP or data warehouse

While the bulk of the investment in your IBI system is probably in enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications or your event data warehouse, it is very difficult for non-technical users to take advantage of available event data without a good reporting and analysis tool.

IBI helps unlock the event data in your company’s event data warehouse(s).

PRESSED4TIME: One of the nation’s leading suppliers of dry cleaning delivery services uses IBI to make ad hoc queries against its SAP system. Thanks to PRESSED4TIME’s IBI system, franchises can access reports that are tailored to their needs and that hold a lot of detailed event information. Working offline on their laptops, users can drill down to the required level of detail on product or customer information.

Increasing Revenue

Sell information to customers, partners, and suppliers

Leading organizations are using IBI to differentiate their product and service offerings from competitors through value added, web-based services. In the past, many departments generated zero revenue, but now with an IBI on-demand platform, they create a recurring revenue stream by selling information to customers, partners, and suppliers.

Owens & Minor: The $3 billion medical supplies distributor has signed up 80 hospital accounts and six of its top suppliers, including pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, for the service. Hospitals pay up to $1,250 per month and suppliers pay $2,000 per month. It is estimated that Owens & Minor will generate at least $2 million in fees next year.

Improve strategies with better marketing analysis

With easy access to ordering, accounting, production, shipping, customer service, and even external event-databases, marketers can find answers to the most detailed of questions such as, “What was the success rate of my direct mail campaign?” or “What was the incremental revenue generated from the new TV ads we just ran?” or “Which ten items were most popular across our 50 stores during the past couple of weeks?”

With this information, the marketer can precisely tailor product launches and promotion campaigns to the targeted audience. Using IBI, companies can micro segment their markets and gain an edge over the competition.

Ben & Jerry’s: IBI allows the U.S. ice cream maker to track, understand, and manage relevant event information on the thousands of consumer responses it receives on its products and promotional activities. Through daily customer feedback analysis, Ben & Jerry’s is able to identify trends and modify its marketing campaigns and its products to suit consumer demand.

Departments within an organization that have led the deployment of IBI On-Demand have found themselves switching from being a cost center to becoming a profit center.

Empower your sales force

Better results from your sales force can be achieved by analyzing its selling patterns: compare results to targets, to figures from previous years, to other sales staff results, and suggest improvements. Encourage the sales force to focus on high profitability customers and products. The sales force can also use IBI to analyze data on brands, clients, and distributors.

TaylorMade: “When salespeople went out to visit TaylorMade’s customers at golf pro shops and sporting goods retail chains, they didn’t have up-to-date inventory reports. The sales reps would take orders for clubs, accessories, and clothing without confidence that the goods were available for delivery as promised,” [Tom Collard, information systems director with TaylorMade] says. “The technology has helped TaylorMade not only reduce costs by eliminating the reporting backlog…it has eliminated a lot of wasted effort that resulted from booking orders that it couldn’t fill.”5

Improving Customer Satisfaction

Give users the means to make better decisions

With access to event information, users can make better decisions faster, without having to escalate standard problems up the management hierarchy. This guarantees pragmatic and effective solutions since the people directly involved in the operations make decisions. In addition, users have the increased satisfaction of controlling their own process.

Ingram Micro: This wholesale provider of high-tech goods to technology solutions providers is working to create a new BI extranet in order to deliver advanced information to the company’s suppliers and business partners.

Says Ingram Micro CIO Guy Abramo,“Today it’s incumbent on us to provide our partners with sell-through event information so they can see what happened once their PCs hit distribution. That’s critical for them to do inventory planning and manufacturing planning—helping them to understand what products are selling to what segments of the marketplace.”6

Provide quick answers to user questions

One of the primary benefits of IBI is that you can dramatically reduce the time it takes for internal and external users to get answers to their questions. Perpetual flow of reported, relevance determined and up-dated event information translates to fewer delays and faster response time, users are empowered to act quickly, based on the event information they receive when they need it.

Principal Financial Group (PFG): PFG’s financial department has received substantial benefits from the products’ real-time event data extraction and analysis capabilities. The department can now rapidly review monthly and yearly relevant event data, increasing the speed of decision-making and improving productivity and business performance.

Challenge assumptions with factual information

Almost all businesses rely on assumptions and rule of thumb. However, it is

Worth while to challenge these hunches through detailed analysis of operational data, because assumptions and rule of thumb are frequently incorrect.

British Airways: Peter Blundell, former knowledge strategy manager for British Airways, and various company executives had a suspicion that the carrier was suffering from a high degree of ticket fraud. To address this problem, Blundell and his team rolled out intuitive business intelligence. “Once we analyzed the event data, we found that this ticket fraud was not an issue at all. What we had supposed was fraud was in fact either information relevance and quality issues or process problems,” says Blundell. “What it did was give us so many unexpected opportunities in terms of understanding our business.”7 Blundell estimates that their IBI deployment has resulted in around $100 million in cost savings and new revenues for the airline.

Justifying the Investment

By now, the benefits of IBI—lowering costs, increasing revenue, and improving customer satisfaction—have been explained, and you can see why IBI is a prerequisite to making better decisions. But you might be wondering, “How do I justify this investment?”

The Process for Quantifying IBI Benefits

Increasingly, top-level management expects IT departments to justify their costs by presenting quantified value gains, typically using ROI methods. Management is no longer prepared to sink large sums into IT projects simply because they are the latest and greatest technology. Information technology has come of age, and it is expected to make a significant contribution to the bottom line.

When looking at how IBI affects the bottom line, you should analyze the various benefits you can expect to see from an IBI deployment. A practical way of breaking down these numerous benefits is to separate them into four main categories:

• Quantifiable benefits

• Indirectly quantifiable benefits

• Unpredictable benefits

• Intangible benefits

Quantifiable benefits include working time saved in producing reports, selling information to suppliers, etc.

Moët et Chandon: The famous champagne producer, reduced its IT costs from approximately $.30 per bottle to $.15. A leading risk insurance company: Because customers have self-service access to their information on-demand in the insurance company's event-database, they no longer receive paper reports. This one benefit alone saves the organization $400,000 a year in printing and shipping costs. The total three-year ROI for this IBI deployment was 249%. Indirectly quantifiable benefits can be evaluated through indirect evidence— improved customer service means new business from the same customer, and differentiated service brings new customers.

Owens & Minor: A customer of Owens & Minor cited extranet access to the event-data warehouse as the primary reason for giving the medical supplies distributor an additional $44 million in business.

Unpredictable benefits are the result of discoveries made by creative users.

Volkswagen Finance: The IBI system allowed an interesting discovery that later resulted in significant new revenue. The customers of a particular model of the Audi product line had completely different behaviors than customers of other cars. Based on their socio-economic profiles, they were thought to want long lease terms and fairly large upfront payments. Instead, event information revealed that Audi customers actually wanted shorter leases and to finance a large part of the purchase through the lease. Based on that insight, fed into an intuitive computer system, the company immediately introduced a new program combining shorter length of lease, larger upfront payments, and aggressive leasing rates, especially for that car model. The take up on the new program was immediate, resulting in over $2 million new revenue.

Intangible benefits include improved communication throughout the enterprise, improved job satisfaction of empowered users, improved knowledge sharing, and more time for all of these experiences because of the lessening of the cumbersomeness of inputting event information

ABN AMRO Bank: The corporate human resources department at ABN

AMRO uses IBI to gain insight into its workforce by analyzing up to the minute event information in its event-data warehouse affecting such items as gender, age, tenure, and compensation. Thanks to this sharing of intellectual capital, the HR department is in a better position to demonstrate its performance and contribution to the business successes of the corporation as a whole.

Suggested Solution

While a deployment’s ROI is most accurately determined on a case-by-case basis, we suggest the following approach for evaluating these systems. This approach has the advantage of taking both measurable and intangible benefits into consideration:

• Quantify the expected measurable benefits.

• Qualitatively describe, as precisely as possible, the anticipated intangible benefits.

• Estimate the total cost of ownership (TCO), including hardware, software, personnel, consulting services, and future ongoing costs. Bear in mind that the choice of system architecture—integrated or non-integrated—can greatly affect total cost of ownership.

• Then apply the following decision rule.

 

Measuring these intangible benefits, while challenging, can be done by creating a series of assumptions to determine the impact these types of benefits have had on the bottom line. For example, if customers access event reports directly and that empowers the sales force to make more sales calls (because their time has been freed up from creating the reports), how much more revenue are the sales representatives bringing to the company because of these additional calls? Would a realistic, conservative estimate on the amount of incremental business done with this additional time be a 2% increase? If so, then in a $100 million company, that would be a $2 million benefit for the company.This process can be undertaken for any benefit acquired through intuitive business intelligence. And while a little more time consuming than simply calculating the quantifiable benefits, it will in all likelihood yield numbers that are sure to create a positive ROI that would make any executive or business manager feel that implementing intuitive business intelligence was a wise decision.

Conclusion

The widespread use of intuitive information technology can generate tremendous amounts of event data within an organization. This event data contains relevant information that is invaluable to the organization’s decision makers. The issue for most organizations is that the event data is inaccessible to all but the IT department. While IT can run queries and produce reports at the request of business users, a self-service approach to event information provides the greatest benefits. With direct, easy access to event information in event data warehouses, users can find answers to all the questions that are raised by their activities. Armed with precise, relevant event information, users can develop effective responses that help their organization attain its goals. IBI is the key to leveraging this wealth of event data that accumulates in an enterprise. With IBI, non-technical users can pinpoint what drives their business activity. They can help reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve customer satisfaction. While many of these benefits are clearly quantifiable, some of the more intangible ones, such as improved communication throughout the enterprise, improved job satisfaction of empowered users, or sharing of intellectual capital, can give your business the greatest edge over its competitors.

We hope this paper has helped clarify the value that IBI can deliver for your organization. If you would like further information on INQUIL and our products and solutions, please visit inquil.com.

Context Sensitive Application

 

 


 

 

 
 


 
 
 

Inquil Solutions, LLC
1205 Hancock Street, Suite 604
Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: 617-501-9021
Email: contact@inquil.com