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The Four Sides of Business Intelligence

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ian Tomlin of Business 2 Community provides us with 4 sides of business intelligence.

Technology folk sometimes talk about Business Intelligence as if it were a single ‘thing’ that works like a silver-bullet to solve all of the analysis woes of a business. This can turn business professionals off. People generally want to know of any technology ‘How will it help to get my job done better?’ The challenge with BI is that it isn’t doing ONE thing – so it can help to break down this blob of technology into its capability areas rather than seeing it as a single lump of techno stuff.

Whilst I’m no expert in IT architectures I have been involved in the sourcing and application of business insights for many years and in my experience the role of BI falls quite neatly into four capability areas that DO make sense to business people once explained.

These are:

Operational Analytics and Delivery of Daily Operating Control Insights - Most businesses (I can’t think of any that don’t) have some form of economic engine that turns ‘what they produce into cash’ – whether it’s seats, units, licenses or transactions. Any good business wants to make sure its managers are on the ball and know how things are going on a near-real-time basis. These insights are sometimes better served in alerts, notifications, scorecards and charts rather than tabular reports where the data may be more difficult to interpret. In this area there is a distinct blur between operational reporting and BI but that’s not a problem so long as people know what the purpose of the technology is. Traditional perspectives on what BI technology does lean towards the use of OLAP cubes and huge data pre-processing engines but more recently, in-memory processing and tools like Encanvas BusinessIntel and Qlikview make it possible for users of BI to source the answers to their operational analytical questions without needing to go to the trouble of investing in a pre-processing platform. Instead such tools use clever middle-ware and data mashup capabilities to bring together new data views as they are needed. The benefit of this approach is that it cuts many thousands of dollars from BI investments because users are better able to serve themselves with the views of operational data they need. It normally means that you don’t need a BI department to access the capabilities of BI.

Delivery of Actionable Insights – This is the science of find answers to questions that aren’t presently known by decision makers because they don’t know to ask – but if they did know to ask they’d be able to use these insights to intervene in processes to make them work better. (get it?). A good example of actionable insights comes from geo-mapping of customer data. It would be weird for a marketing exec to invest marketing dollars answering the question ‘How many of our customers (and what type) are clustered around our local town?’ if there were no reason to believe the answer to such a question could increase new business opportunities or substantially quality of customer service leading to higher retention. Nevertheless, if a marketing exec were able to analyze their data geo-spatially they might find there are clusters of customers of a particular persona or income profile in a specific locality. This could make it appealing to introduce campaigns in this specific area rather than a broader region – making the marketing dollars go further.

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Source: Business 2 Community

Business 2 Community is an independent online community focused on sharing the latest news surrounding Social Media, Marketing, Branding, Public Relations & much more.

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