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.
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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.