On-demand IT services can unlock the value of business data

Analysing data: How CIOs can help the business find a way out of the recession...

...providing intelligence for informed cuts. For this reason it was important to have a fast turnaround. Rosslyn was able to process 30 million rows of data in 18 hours.

Rosslyn Analytics says it has the first fully automated on-demand spend analytics service. Other vendors such as Zycus and Emptoris offer spend analytics as part of their product range.

Others try to achieve the same end with business intelligence tools. These do not have the capability to integrate and enrich spend data however and are more suited to reporting on the consolidated data after it has been run through a spend analytics service.

Case for spend analysis
For IT managers, the important thing about using on-demand services is they do not require new investment in infrastructure or projects. On-demand services are paid for by subscription, sometimes with a set-up fee. There is, of course, still the need to prove that any such investment is good value for the business. With spend analysis, making this case is straightforward.

If a business spends £1m per annum, then reducing that figure by five per cent has a value of £50,000, more than enough to cover the set-up and initial subscription to a service such as RA.Pid. This decision requires a simple return on investment calculation. Add to that calculation the reduced supplier risk and other benefits and the value proposition soon becomes compelling.

For the IT department, the point is that such on-demand service provides a quick win, and IT management is seen to be taking an initiative that will help the business achieve one of its most urgent goals, balancing the books.

However, it also demonstrates that on-demand services can provide a level of value that IT departments, or indeed, any other business department would struggle to provide - expertise on tap.

Accumulated wisdom
The providers of on-demand services have the benefit of having carried out the same task countless times on behalf of many different customers. This experience gives them accumulated wisdom that no business can achieve for itself.

Add to this advantage the economies of scale that allow such services to be provided at a relatively low cost and it soon becomes obvious that using an on-demand service is the best way to achieve many goals.

Quocirca thinks spend analysis is a particularly compelling example, but there are many others, such as on-demand employee expense management from vendors like Concur, Infor and Spendvision and on-demand content security from vendors like Symantec-MessageLabs, Cisco-ScanSafe and M86 Security. There are many others now covering all areas of IT.

In fact, IT managers who ignore the opportunity offered by on-demand IT services are likely to be doing the businesses they are supposed to be helping a disservice. The use of on-demand services to provide utility IT or helping a business differentiate itself through tackling a difficult but mundane process, such as spend analysis, is only set to increase.

If IT management does not take the initiative, the availability of such services makes it far easier for the business to do so for itself, bypassing IT altogether.

Quocirca is a user-facing analyst house known for its focus on the big picture. Made up of experts in technology and its business implications, the Quocirca team includes Clive Longbottom, Bob Tarzey, Rob Bamforth and Louella Fernandes. Their series of columns for silicon.com seeks to demystify the latest jargon and business thinking.