I feel like I’m jumping into a time machine and taking people back to 1994, but let’s take a minute and think about why organizations big and small made the jump to paperless, digital, and connected solutions. Most of your answers will be the same. Businesses wanted to consolidate data into connected systems with the goal of making their operations more profitable and more competitive. It was an awesome sentiment and an initiative many companies took to heart. As a result, data has been compiling for years for many organizations. Unfortunately, some of these companies have yet to turn data into information, or even recognize how important it will be in order to stay competitive in their respective market place.
Many of you likely believe you are using Business Intelligence to grow your operation, but you are most likely just measuring your processes, people, and profit. While this is technically BI (Business Intelligence), it will no longer be sufficient to position your business to be successful and competitive in the marketplace. Where do organizations need to look? Well, it’s right back to that goal that many businesses had when adopting the digital “workstyle”. The solution is a connected system that pulls data from all your data sources (CRM, Accounting software, and ERP), organizes it, and provides a work space for you and your staff to perform Self-Service analysis or Automated Information Discovery on the data you have spent years collecting and cleaning. Companies have used these systems and have started to focus less on the performance measurement aspects of BI. Instead, they are starting to shift their focus to finding important business decision indicators.
The push to measure less and think more is the driver behind all of this. The idea is simple: would you rather know why you sell more cars in June and July, or how many cars you sell in June and July? The “why” can lead to more possibilities than the final number. Maybe there are marketing tactics that can be employed in June and July to extort this trend? Maybe there are underlying seasonal characteristics that have yet to be realized by your business? There is a huge amount of possibilities and implications the “why” can provide. It’s becoming more and more common for machines (computers) to give you this type of information as well. Assuming that an analytical system is set up and the data is true and clean, examples like Microsoft’s new Cortana Analytics will be able to provide you and your team with answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, as well as provide the questions to answers you already do have.
Of course, nothing is as straight-forward as it’s laid out here. There are a lot of changes that most organizations need to make in order for Analytics and Self-Services Business Intelligence applications to garner successful adoption in a corporate culture. The time is coming, and rather quickly, where they’ll be just as important in augmenting our decisions as business people, and steering the direction of our organizations. In the now, BI applications are listening to our inputs and showing us what we’re asking to see, waiting patiently for their turn to return the favour.