Does anyone actually use Business Intelligence to make more money?

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When you get past the snazzy charts, analytic epiphanies and one versions of the truth, the single key to successful Business Intelligence is adoption.  That means as many people as possible in your organisation getting at-will access to the information that they need to be successful in making your organisation successful.  That's access to reliable and secure information in the 3 W's:

  • Whatever they need to be effective
  • Whenever they need it
  • Wherever they happen to be

A lot of Business Intelligence spend is focussed on the production of information, not on guaranteeing its effective use.  IT departments and Finance folks toil away daily to pump out various analyses, views, datasources and data sets and push them to the point of release.  After that, most, and I mean the vast majority, dust their hands satisfied that they have done everything they can do.  If it doesn't work now, its down to the infernal and changeable 'business'.  Sporadic checks to see that people are carrying the right reports, have logged in occasionally or aren't complaining anymore are made on an ad-hoc basis and that's the extent of measuring adoption.

If adoption is the key, why don't we spend even a fraction of the time we've spent producing and distributing these analytic "objects", making certain they are adopted?  Even more, why aren't we analysing and learning from adoption data to guarantee these valuable tools are being used regularly and massively.  Why aren't we learning from those usage profiles to become more effective in driving adoption - seeing what the greats do, sharing that with the not-so-greats and even learning to ignore what the greats determine is just not important.

Businesses, particularly large ones, do some incredibly dumb stuff albeit unintentionally.  Here's 2 examples:

  1. They pay for software they never or rarely use (I'm sorry to be the one to tell you shareholders but BI has always lead the way on inactive "shelfware")
  2. When core systems change (for example through upgrade) they will spend months replicating reports that no-one uses on any regular basis.  They will even replicate slightly different reports because they don't know which is more important.  I feel for the guys cutting the reports, it's a sad and tragic waste of a life.

Why isn't this done better?  The short answer its been too hard.  Most BI applications won't provide useful feedback on how they are performing in the adoption stakes.  Don't misunderstand me - they'll tell you when you have breached licensing.  Vendors need to know this, and certain of them have taken threatening legal action for use in excess of licensing to an art form - a couple spring to mind.  But the real usage information that matters to a business is missing.  Depending on the product or suite there are a few reasons:

  1. The vendor hasn't yet realised that adoption is the key allows BI to engage and make a difference to Revenue, Productivity, Risk etc in a business; or
  2. Having established their offering by slamming together a series of acquired disparate products, they have a lot to think about and being able to report to the user on adoption is the least of their problems - and impossible since none of the bits of their recently acquired puzzle talk that effectively to any other.

Here at CALUMO we talk a lot about the benefits of single database platform for BI and this one of those places where that really makes a difference.  With CALUMO for iimagenstance at any point in time CALUMO will tell you for any given period, how many users are connecting, which reports and planning templates they use, how often, from which browsers and through which user interfaces (browser, Excel, Word, Powerpoint).  CALUMO even tells you how long the reports took to generate, broken down into network, processing and rendering.  This gives you everything you need to fully understand the adoption of the "objects" you've worked hard to create.  User activity can be contrasted and you can get a real sense of the user experience (based on report responsiveness) before users need to ask.

Adoption is the key.  Understanding it requires the ability to comprehensively understand your stakeholders' use and activity.  Even better with CALUMO you can use the same analytical tools you use to understand your business, in order to understand adoption.

We hope you're enjoying using CALUMO.  If you're not using CALUMO yet, we've got some special offers at the moment and you really should take a closer look – come visit us here.

BTW - We have plenty of examples of how our clients use CALUMO to make more money and they've got the stories and the stats to back it up.  I'll do some other posts soon highlighting some of those.

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