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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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Performance for the Public

I often have the pleasure to work with customers to understand the business impact of the software they’ve implemented, so that they can construct well-balanced case stories that their industry peers will relate to and understand.

Because of this experience, my colleagues often badger me for examples of customers successfully using certain software or seeking something particular. Both customers and individuals want the surety that comes from a reference story, so that if we’re spending money, ours or the company’s, we can be assured that what we plan to do has been done successfully before.

Past Success Is Nice but Innovation Is Better

But it can’t always be that way. Someone has to step out and lead the way. These innovators and early adopters act as beacons as they guide the rest of us towards great new ideas and ways of doing things— they break new ground. When this happens in my area of business, I not only take an interest, I actually utter the words, “Now, that’s really cool.” (Yes, I am from a generation that uses the word cool without embarrassment.)

And so it was that I recently found myself uttering that word again while reading about Boston’s terrific new information service for its tax-paying public. New data analysis tools and apps, delivered via website and iPad device, provide Boston’s citizens with information and statistics on the performance of public services (like schools) and enable citizens to report on problems (like potholes and graffiti). Devin Quirk, Boston’s citywide performance manager, told The Boston Globe that “this is a transparency program” designed to encourage greater civic engagement.

City Innovation Drives Engagement

What impressed me here were both Boston’s innovative approach to performance management and the manner in which it decided to distribute its data to the public. This was quite inspirational—surely, this will lead to a far greater degree of engagement and collaboration with the public on a range of civic topics.

One could ask “Why bother?”, since I’m sure Boston’s performance data was public record anyway. But how many of you can honestly say that your own city councils engage with you in such a positive way while utilizing the latest mobile technologies to share information that has an impact on your daily lives? Not many, I would hazard to say.

Where Could Business Engagement Lead?

Just think about this in terms of the business world. What if your organization could use this kind of technology to share information with suppliers or customers that regards stocking, supply, or service levels, for example? Your business could share access to performance data that impacts your mutual cost bases, resource levels, or impacts the time to market for goods.

Think about how this might affect the supplier/customer relationship or the competitive nature of certain industries. In a mobile world, with continual advances in the availability of devices and compatible business software, so much is possible and so much more is promised.

Be an Innovator, Be an Early Adopter

To face the challenge of this increasingly mobile world, you need only do two simple things—innovate and adopt. Mobile technology has the potential to enable you to rise above your peers and become even leaner and more competitive.

Extend the use of mobile solutions within your organization and engage more closely with your customers and suppliers through their use.

You never know, maybe the next cool news item I read will be the one about you!

How are you using mobile solutions now to innovate within your company?