To Get BI to 110 Percent, Add Business Relevance - InformationWeek

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12/4/2006
07:45 PM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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To Get BI to 110 Percent, Add Business Relevance

In my last blog, I asked you to think about how you can take your BI deployment to 110 percent of your employees. Part of what will get you there is technology dependent. The other part is business relevance. In building a BI app or report, business and IT engage in a clumsy dance of users defining their requirements and IT interpreting those requirements. If business users don't ask for it, they don't get it.

In my last blog, I asked you to think about how you can take your BI deployment to 110 percent of your employees. Part of what will get you there is technology dependent. The other part is business relevance.

In building a BI application or individual report, business and IT engage in a clumsy dance of users defining their requirements and IT interpreting those requirements. If the business doesn't ask for something, they don't get it. So users will over ask, and IT will do a data dump, overwhelming the business users. It's not a pretty waltz and is something more akin to Ben Stiller's salsa attempt in Along Came Polly.To make BI more successful, the data has to be relevant to the business and to the individual user. Let's take the example of 1-800 CONTACTS, a winner of TDWI's Best Practices Awards this year. IT staff at 1-800 CONTACTS worked closely with call center agents and their managers to understand the information agents needed to serve calls faster and better. They further developed reports and dashboards to display measures that drive performance bonuses. The reports were highly relevant to the business goals (customer service) and to the individual agents (compensation).

I contrast this with another industry award winner who remarked "our call center would never use a BI tool. They don't need it." Sure, they don't need sales revenue by region, because it's not relevant to call center staff. Don't expect call center staff to ask for BI either; they may have no idea how BI can help them. It's up to the IT staff to understand enough of the business requirements to identify the opportunities. When IT does not have the time, resources or business acumen to do so, this is when you should engage a third-party consultant to help uncover those opportunities.

This is the hard part of BI and something that no technology or software vendor can help you with.

Let me know how you've helped make BI more business relevant at your company by writing me at [email protected].In my last blog, I asked you to think about how you can take your BI deployment to 110 percent of your employees. Part of what will get you there is technology dependent. The other part is business relevance. In building a BI app or report, business and IT engage in a clumsy dance of users defining their requirements and IT interpreting those requirements. If business users don't ask for it, they don't get it.

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