Traditional BI typically sees people in two roles. First, they are the largely passive and individual receivers of information via reports or even dashboards. Once that information is delivered, the classic BI tool bows out; even though the real value of the process comes only when the decision is made and the required action initiated. Furthermore, the traditional BI process fails to link the action taken to results that can be measured in the real world, overlooking the vital concept of sense and respond described in my last post. These two glaring omissions, among others, in the current BI world lead directly to the relatively poor proven return on investment in many BI projects.
Second, BI treats people as largely disconnected providers of "information requirements" to the BI development process, often leading to failed or, at best, disappointing BI solutions for real user needs. Agile BI approaches do address this problem to some extent. However, the real issue is that the process of innovative decision making is largely iterative with final information needs often differing radically from initial ideas on what the requirements may be. The path from such innovative analyses to ongoing production reporting using the discovered metrics is also poorly understood and seldom delivered by most current BI tools.
The good news is that many of these issues are central to the techniques and tools of Web 2.0, social networking and related developments. However, simply adding a chat facility or document sharing to an existing BI tool is insufficient. To truly deliver BI for the People, we require a significant rethinking of the framework in which BI is developed and delivered. This framework includes (1) a well-managed and bounded social environment where users can safely experiment with information and collaborate on their analyses, (2) support for peer review and promotion to production of analyses of wider or longer-term value, and (3) an adaptive, closed-loop environment where changes in the real-world can be directly linked to actions taken and thus to the value of the analyses performed.
Today's users are of a different generation to those BI has previously supported. Gereration Y (born 1980-2000, or thereabouts, depending on which social scientist you follow) is the first generation to have grown up with pervasive electronic connectivity and collaboration in their personal lives. They bring these expectations, as well as some very different social norms, into the business world, and are now beginning to assume positions of decision-making responsibility in their organizations. They are set to demand radical changes in the way we make and support decisions in business.
I'll be discussing these issues at three seminars I'm presenting on the transformation of BI into Enterprise IT Integration in Europe: a half day each in Copenhagen and Helsinki (4 and 5 April) and a full two-day deep dive in Rome (11-12 April).
Posted March 29, 2011 3:56 AM
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