Linking Execution with Strategy with Business Intelligence

Why do we look to the active data warehouse (right-time data warehouse)?  To empower people who execute the strategy to have the information and insight to support the operation of the companies business in a way that matches the corporate strategy.

What do I mean.  In Stephen Brobst, CTO of Teradata‘s Keynote address at Think Big Data Warehouse conference he introduced this idea in a very poingnant manner.  First let’s talk about the 5 stages/phases of Data Warehousing as he introduced.

  1. Reporting – What happened*
  2. Analysis – Why did it happen*
  3. Predictive Analytics – What will happen next*
  4. Operational Intelligence/Business Process Change – What should I do now**
  5. Dissintermediation – Business Automation (Monitored ->Tuned -> Enhanced)

* Traditional Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence
** Active Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence

So now that we have gotten that out of the way let’s talk about some examples:

Stephen gave us a great example of how an airline can leverage this
active information in how it helps align actions of the operations
people to the companies strategy.

  1. Stephen has a friend (real and I can’t remember his name) who is
    a super frequent flyer.  One day he shows up on the Sunday afternoon
    for his flight only to find out that the flight was delayed by two
    hours.  As he was a Super Elite,the check-in staff offered a lovely
    place for him to sit for the few extra hours, but that was of little
    value to him.  So he asked, why didn’t you call me?  To which his
    response was, we started calling everyone, but we did not get to you in
    time as your name starts with "S".  So what is the lesson here.  This
    clearly does not align with the strategy of supporting and expanding
    their relationships with high value customers, which this guy was
    clearly one of.  A simple sorting algorithym on rewards status would
    have been a simple example of allowing the Call Centre to work in a
    manner that supported the strategy.
  2. Another example is when a flight is delayed coming into a
    connection (like Chicago – which are often delayed).  There is an
    airline that once it realizes that the flight is delayed, looks at the
    impact and sends information to the arrival gate as well as the plane
    on steps to take to work with the customers.  This is operational
    information in a right-time manner.
  3. The last example he gave was of Fedex and it’s ability to in
    their active data warehouse decide what they need to do when routing
    planes and packages.  They will check service levels, past performance
    and a variety of other factors actively to adjust when a plane or truck
    will arrive.

My example is:

  1. An example from my experience is going into a Telco/CableCo store
    to either buy something or get service support.  We all get treated the
    same, and the sales associate does not know what level of customer you
    are or have the ability to act on their own as there are a multitude of
    systems between them and the customer data.  There have been many
    examples of times when a person will go into a store and get served at
    the same level (usually low, though it is getting better) as a pre-paid
    cellular account.  Take me as an example.  I have every service Bell
    Canada offers (2 cell phones, expressvu, local, long distance, wifi
    access, data, sympatico) which adds to a hefty amount on my monthly
    one-bill.  But if I go in to buy my wife a new cell phone, I am treated
    as if this is the only thing that I own and sometimes they even play
    the internal re-activation game with me.  This does not support Michael
    Sabia’s strategy does it?  Could this be fixed?  Yes.  Is it hard?
    Maybe, but probably not.

So what can we learn from this… a couple of initial thoughts, please add more.

  1. We need a strategy and then some guiding principles to work against.
  2. IT needs to understand corporate strategy and have an understanding of the business needs, not requirements
  3. Giving actionable intelligence to operations allows an
    opportunity to align operational behaviour with corporate strategy.  Is
    this a silver bullet?  No, there are people involved and we can’t
    always align their actions.
  4. Operational Intelligence on it’s own is of no value unless someone will do something of value with it.
  5. Does anyone have it all figured out.  Heck no.  This is a work in progress, hence the monitor, tune, enhance cycle.
  6. The Business and IT need to work together, not as one being the
    follower of the other.  Both parties together, not in partnership, but
    together (partnership is a word without meaning now adays).

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