Monday, April 8, 2013

What's missing from Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence is the process of transforming data into information and through discovery, transforming that information into knowledge/insight/foresight in better management and governance.

Business Intelligence is "Organization's motivation and ability to effectively create and use the information to execute business activities that deliver sustainable and higher profitability compared to the competition.". However, traditional BI is to capture business hindsight through the collection and transforming mass amount of enterprise operational data, the lower adoption rate, lack of easy-to-use interface, makes it not as popular as it should be, now advanced data analytics or Big Data brings a new wave of information intelligence, what’re pros and cons for the BI/analytics solutions?

1.   Traditional BI Missed a few Key Points

Traditional BI hasn’t been quite as successful with the ability to provide pertinent real-time information that is associated with corporate strategy, operational and financial plans. As BI collects this data, it becomes an IT requirement to be able to present this data to the decision-makers. This is the inherent disconnect. Why do businesses assume IT can produce the information in reports that the business needs, or when they need it?

  • BI has a lot of potentials but it can often end up being a static reporting tool instead of being used as an analytical tool. All said and done it does provide very good insight and value to management with reduced dependency on time-consuming reporting from multiple departments 
  • BI's downfall is that it is an IT tool, not a business application. It fails to look at the obvious. If you don't know the question and which data is key, how can you possibly get the benefit of any business information system? BI has other challenges in terms of users aptitude to use technology - BI tool along with the diverse view everyone has in terms of BI Dashboards.  
  • Business Intelligence fails to take into account the alignment of strategic, operational and financial goals, and measurement real-time information relative to those goals all while giving executives and operational managers a view of their performance throughout the quarter/year based on those goals, and allow them to take corrective actions to get back on course when deviations occur? 

2.   Business Benefits Modern BI/Advanced Analytics can bring

Business Intelligence is the process of transforming data into information and through discovery, transforming that information into knowledge/insight/foresight in better management and governance. BI brings some pretty fundamentally strong business benefits if implemented correctly
1) The single version of the truth:  it is impossible to have a single version of the truth without having a common understanding of business terms used within the organization
2) Common lexicon of business terminology
3) Enterprise view of data
4) Improved data consistency and quality 

Good BI should drip business value and lucidity and transparency should be its middle names.
1) Enable Corporate Performance Management
2) Better Manage Compliance
3) Increase Business Agility

The ROI is having the knowledge management effectively and accurately interpreting the business intelligence being presented resulting in "smart" decisions being made that can be measured  It is incumbent on the business and IT to jointly establish critical business KPIs that a good BI the solution can provide insight into. Once you have these components in place and business leaders are provided dashboards or some other tools that are drillable and specific, you then have a fairly easy case for establishing ROI. Once you have that you have to have evangelists within the business to insist on sticking with those terms and what they mean

3. Better Profitability via High-Performance BI/Analytics Solution

To manage high-performance BI/analytics solution, you need a top-down AND a bottom-up approach - or to use a different metaphor a stick and a carrot. Embedding BI in an organization is about winning hearts and minds, showing users that there is something in it for them, making their lives easier. BI is particularly hard as it requires mastery of four things:

1). Data-Based Decision Making: The decisions that a company wants to make and how it goes about making them
2). Enterprise Data Life Cycle Management: The data locked up in all sorts of recherché places all over the organization, often held in a manner that would make a cryptographer proud
3). Answer Business Inquiries: [probably the easiest bit to master] Turning the data into information that answers the questions 
4). Embedding the use of the BI system into the corporate DNA - the world of cultural transformation
Hi-Performance BI should accomplish all of the following: 
• Allow businesses to interpret their past to better plan their future
• Allow consolidation and segregation of data almost at will to provide deeper understanding
• Allow deep and thorough analysis
• Allow people to ask interesting questions and expect to get answers
• Assist in prioritizing business problems or opportunities.
• Consolidate data and transform it into usable information
• Enable clear linking of strategy from the boardroom to the shop floor (assist in decisions)
• Provide information on a user digestible and understandable level
• Remove the dependence on technical persons to extract information
• Rid the organization of the Excel-Mart phenomenon.
• Tell a person that something is heading in the wrong direction (a trend with notification parameters)
• Translate technical (IT) jargon, requirements, rules, etc. into business language

BI can improve business profitability: Profitability as different from Profit is an ABILITY (HABIT) to run business that:
1) Inherently generates MORE revenue per unit cost compared to competition across every demand pattern.
2). Can sense and create new markets before competition thus making it much more sustainable than the competition
3). Aligns its business activities that have a three-way impact - Revenue, Cost and Investments at the same time (by choosing an environment to compete)

Therefore, the realization and accountability of BI/Analytics MUST be with business and IT must provide effective and efficient ways to implement such THINKING. BI/ Analytics is business management acumen or DNA in unleashing business potentials.


Some really interesting thoughts on a complex field, I have always seen the value in it but it wasn't until I started using Cognos BI that I understand how powerful it is and how much more powerful it can become in the future. Thanks!

Wizard Infoways deals with business intelligence (BI) services in Delhi/Ncr.

For more info : Business Intelligence Services in Delhi

Business Intelligence Services
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