Implementing a BI System
Implementing a BI system is one of the most important tasks that can take place in the organization. The success or failure can change the course of the business. A good implementation of the BI system places the most relevant, most pertinent information at the fingertips of the decision makers in the organization and enables them to make the rights decisions at the right time. A good BI system can provide the organization with strategic advantages over its competitors, because decision makers get the information sooner, can identify trends and get indication what works and does not. The system unveils what exceptions are hidden under the surface, provide the ability to analyze these exceptions and enable managers to find the root causes of problems, and therefore take timely action to remedy the situation or to benefit from opportunities.
The process involves identifying the data that is relevant for the decision makers, getting it processed and ready for fast analysis, cleansing the data from errors, displaying the data in the most adequate format for viewing – reports – views – graphs, setting up the exceptions that should trigger the warning bells about the negative (or positive) trends that are shaping up, and providing a set of tools that enable managers to analyze the data on the fly. This is what traditional BI systems do. However, these steps are not enough to make the BI implementation successful, and indeed many BI systems are grossly underutilized and provide less value than what their designers hoped for.
One thing that traditional BI system left out was the need for interaction among the users of the system once an issue is found. Typically, when an issue is found, the manager who found the problem wants to communicate with others regarding the problem. Traditional BI systems stop right there – at the local desktop – and the manager now has to make a phone call to his buddies, or send an email or sms or MSN etc. New generation BI systems are different. They deploy a collaboration environment similar to Facebook, so that a part of the system is your business buddies ribbon. The ribbon show you the pictures of the people who are most relevant to the issue you are working on. When you spot a problem, you can drag the most relevant person from the social ribbon to the data element (table, line, number) you want to investigate together, and initiate a discussion that includes a reference to the issue under investigation. This way, when your business buddy opens the discussion the data is displayed to him/her in the same way it was displayed to you when you initiated the discussion. You can drag additional friends into the discussion and create a work team on the fly. In the future, you should be able to trace easily what was discussed, what insights were found and how.
These new breed BI systems are what we call: SOCIAL BI – an integration of BI with the collaboration platform that is similar to that of Facebook. People can “like” reports, views or dashboards indicating to others that they found them useful. People can place notes and share insights with others and find out what other people have to say about the data. The collaboration is monitored by the organization’s security and data access rights mechanisms. Some SOCIAL BI systems even let users become followers of others, very much like twitter, with the advantage that through following your more data-proficient peers you learn how to better use the BI systems and what is relevant for you and what is less relevant for you.