As business intelligence solutions become more robust and expand towards agile delivery models, the use of social media as part of software offerings will become embedded within overall BI platforms. The features and functions that currently exist in relation to data integration, dashboards, and analytics are robust and provide a good framework for additional functionality that increases the interactivity of business intelligence use. Add this to the rise in social networking and increased interactivity, and BI becomes a tool that not only provides performance management but also helps with increased collaboration and broader adoption.
This article examines the current trend of social networking within business intelligence, the importance of integrating these types of features within a BI solution, and why organizations should consider this type of functionality within their current BI infrastructures. Because social media will increase in relation to use and expand within business related computer use, developing solutions that become easy to use is essential to successful BI adoption.
The Trend of Social Media and BI
Many trends emerge over time within the business intelligence market. Recently these have included unstructured data, the data warehouse appliance market, self-service and agile BI, the list goes on. In general, what these trends have in common is the goal of making BI more efficient and more interactive. Social media helps bring these solutions closer to this goal through ease of use and greater levels of collaboration. Within BI specifically, the role of collaboration is growing. Whether organizations want to communicate more effectively with customers or partners, or with colleagues and disparate departments within the organization, social networking platforms increase overall communication.
With the increasing use of communities such as LinkedIn or Twitter for business, organizations are starting to look at different ways of disseminating their messaging within their respective markets. Now that many people use these channels for personal communication and interaction with technology, bringing similar functionality into business-oriented computer systems is the next phase of evolution. Traditional operational systems can be considered archaic by some and not user friendly by many. Business intelligence is no different. Therefore, the integration of higher levels of interactive features and easier-to-use environments enables employees to perform their roles without the complications of technology roadblocks.
The Importance of Social Media Integration
The value proposition of integrating social media functionality within BI is high. These additions make BI easy to use, make sharing information and communicating with various people a natural extension of analytics, and support the push towards self-service BI. Higher levels of interactivity and the ability to communicate regularly (and in real-time) increases the overall value proposition of BI within an organization.
One of the key goals of business intelligence is to achieve a higher level of ROI - both in terms of BI use as well as overall performance management. The promise of greater data visibility, enhanced business decision making and the ability to lower operational costs and/or increase profits are some of the main reasons why BI’s popularity continues to grow. Adding the functionality intrinsic within social media adds to the overall value proposition of BI.
Social Networking Options
Once organizations decide to integrate social networking within their BI environments, there are several options available. For instance, companies can add collaborative technologies into their overall BI platforms. Some of these include looking at more interactive solutions that integrate social networking functionality. For instance, two such examples are Lyzasoft that offers a social networking platform with business intelligence features, and solution providers like Dundas Data Visualization that allow comments to be made within dashboards with the goal of sharing information, discussing ideas, and identifying potential issues. Other vendors provide broad deployment options and the ability to share information through email, alerts, blogs, etc.
In addition to general software offerings, the ability to deploy BI when and the way end users want (e.g. through mobile BI options) helps broaden overall use, increases the ease-of-use and adds greater visual functionality. This leads to the creation of more self-service BI applications. Also, operational intelligence is leading the way to integration among multiple types of solutions by enabling integration with transactional solutions to increase information availability and timeliness.
Even with the newer options available in relation to mobile and higher levels of interactivity, organizations are still trying to figure out how to deploy business intelligence in a way that complements social networking concepts. With traditional BI offerings many organizations look at mobile as the way to enhance interactivity and broaden usage. Although this provides a good first step, the reality is that businesses require the ability to interact with multiple business units, share information, and provide instant access to details based on new information and ideas. Unfortunately, not all solutions are created equal in relation to the flexibility required to add this type of functionality within a current BI framework. Some traditional BI environments require too much customization when considering the integration of social networking within their BI environment. In these cases looking at either additional solutions that can be embedded within current solutions or newer BI offerings may be the only option when considering expansion.
With the role of social media within BI increasing, solution providers will continue to increase functionality and enhance offerings for increased integration. For companies with mature BI infrastructures and large investments of time and internal applications, the best option may be to wait for expansions of feature sets within their current solution offerings. Businesses that are newer to BI can consider more dynamic solutions that either integrates interactive features within their product offerings or that integrate with other tools that offer increased flexibility.
About the Author
Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.
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