Business Intelligence at Work
Business Intelligence has historically been the preserve of executive management. For those with access, it has assisted in the difficult task of gaining a complete overview of a company’s performance.
This is critically important to achieve if the business is to remain healthy. Providing management with a dashboard that can be filtered and drilled up and down makes a real difference in complex and fast changing situations.
Difficult decisions need to be made in a timely manner by busy people, so the presentation of information needs to allow for quick comprehension. What is of equal importance, and usually forgotten in the rush to make dashboards look flashy, is that data should be made clear enough to facilitate retention.
Decisions are often made at a later time when not necessarily in front of the dashboard and it’s the clean and simple visualizations that get remembered (see Data Visualization Today).
Getting this right requires continual fine tuning and it is something of a moving feast. However, executive dashboards should not be the extent of a company’s Business Intelligence ambition. Many of the problems faced by executive management are replicated throughout their organisation. And as they say, what’s good for the goose can also turn out to be remarkably useful for their employees as well.
Remember that Business Intelligence can be seen to operate in two different areas. Firstly there is the supply of better information for the management of the here and now. And secondly, there is the ability to analyse the mass of historical data collected on an everyday basis. This can uncover the patterns and trends that lie unrecognised in the hubbub of the daily grind. These analyses can point out the way to plugging the profit leaks that undermine today’s performance and can highlight the new opportunities that will create the basis of tomorrow’s.
Both of these approaches have a place in almost every part of today’s business. Whereas the executive management may have access to business analysts that will provide them with a steady stream of useful material, this resource will not be so readily available elsewhere. So the importance of having software that is easy to learn and intuitive to use cannot be overstated. Difficult tools simply don’t get used.
Please take a look at how Business Intelligence can be put to work in the different departments of a company by selecting from the 'BI@Work' pulldown list in the menu above.