How do you Recognize the Need for Business Intelligence

In our last post on BI I briefly discussed what it means.  Today I would like to continue my observations from Claudia Imhoff’s keynote.

Claudia postulated that there are many ways to idntify when BI is needed other than always as without intelligence on what we are doing, where we are going we will never get there.  She talked about the following examples:

  • Figures Don’t Match – whether they are sales, marketing, inventory or financial often numbers do not correlate and add up as we compare detail with summary data or as we report from various different source systems
  • Management has a problem with vision due to a lack of ability to answer simple questions – classic business questions
  • IT is inundated with requests for reports and information
  • Business units go off and do the reporting themselves.  Claudia refered to the people as Data Priests – people brought in directly by the business to capture and report on data, which is rarely shared with the rest of organization if they even know it exists.
  • Difficult Business Environment.  difficult decisions call for sane, reational strategic decisions as they have significant business impact.

These are great discussion points that often point back to the
information we need as employee’s and managers to achieve our
objectives.  It is pretty hard to support strategy or even corporate
objectives without an understanding of what is going on around us.  I
once had a pilot give me an analogy for business strategy that seems
appropriate here which was before a pilot takes off he needs two of
three things as a minimum and should always have all three.  Where you
are taking off from, your route plan and where you are going.  Pretty
hard to fly without it.

This is very true about our corporate strategies and tactics.  When we are not able to answer the questions of:

  • where have we been
  • what is going on now
  • where are we going

we areflying blind and often make mistakes on how we handle our day to
day operations.  In his keynote Stephen Brobst of Teradata told a story
about the airline industry where in usual business practice, if a plane
is late landing at an airport, the people looking to get on to a flight
to a connection are generally served first come first serve.  What if
the gate agent understood how each passenger fit into the corporate
goals and was able to make decisions accordingly.  For example:

  • Service Levels, a key passenger has been delayed a number of times
    and would hit a threshold if they did or did not get on the flight.
    The agent can act accordingly
  • High Value customers – the last thing some of these people want are
    more points to appologize for issues (sent 1-3 months after the
    prblem).  Being able to handle these items on the spot in alignement
    with the airlines strategy – If you know there is a delay on the flight
    and look to inform passengers before they get to the airport, start
    with your high value customers first not calling people alphabetically
    because maybe Mr. Smith is very important to you.

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