BI evolves

Business decision makers are no longer confined to boardrooms or executive floors. They exist at all levels within an organisation and they are being asked to make decisions within ever-decreasing timeframes. The decision making cycle is a complicated and dynamic process that involves inputs and collaboration from many parties both internal and external to the organisation.

Whilst decision taking has evolved over the past 20 years, delivery of technology solutions to support the decision makers have not. As a result, despite significant investments in data integration, data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) tools, ROI has been very disappointing, with many companies wondering what more they can do to leverage from these significant investments.

The problem is quite simple: there is a huge disconnect between information presentation mechanisms and the daily working activities of many decision makers. Use of summarised data, reports, drill ‘down’ etc, is simply too generic for many decision makers seeking decision point data intelligence within their business process.

This ‘disconnect’ places the decision makers in a position where they must ‘trawl the sea searching for pearls’, utilising the Q&A premise which is very reactive and time consuming. As a result many BI implementations fail to deliver expected performance improvements and have low adoption rates.

However the ‘disconnect’ can be readily addressed by using applications that integrate the data, decision making cycle and business process. These are called analytic applications, guided analytics or inline analytics.

Analytic applications use techniques such as exception generation and alert levers within detailed data, to guide users to a potential problem. Further, analytic applications enable stakeholders from both inside and outside an organisation to work with shared data, modify the data and then take action on the results — with full commentary capabilities available to all parties.

Organisations previously frustrated with 10 standard users of a BI tool are able to grow their user base to 2000 utilising the analytic applications to make proactive, consistent, and collaborative decisions. The end result is enormous ROI, because there are less ‘data free’ decisions, the proactive investigation allows for mitigation, (instead of constant ‘fire-fighting’) and decision makers are collaborating in a timely and effective manner.

It all adds up to a very powerful equation when you adopt this approach for the many hundreds or thousands of decisions taken daily in enterprises Australia wide.

Graham Sammells is MD of Alphablox A/asia

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