Business intelligence, which encompasses concepts like decision support and executive information systems, has been around for several decades in the business world. However, it has not been entirely successful. We have thrown complex data warehouses and software tools at business users without providing adequate support, resulting in a lack of effective decision-making. Terms like “ad hoc queries” and “drill down” have been used frequently but have not yielded significant results.
It is crucial for organizations to increase their focus on decision-making and re-examine the relationship between information and decision-making.
In a recent study sponsored by IBM’s Information Management business unit, 26 initiatives aimed at improving decision-making within organizations were analyzed.
From this analysis, ten points were identified, highlighting the necessary evolution of business intelligence:
- Firstly, BI initiatives should be applied to decisions as a unit of work: BI initiatives should be focused on improving decision-making, which means that organizations need to identify the specific decisions that need improvement and tailor their BI efforts accordingly.
- Second, providing access to data and tools is not sufficient to ensure that decisions are improved: Simply providing access to data and tools is not enough to ensure better decision-making. Organizations need to provide context, guidance, and support to decision-makers to help them navigate the data and tools effectively.
- Third, only the necessary data should be provided to decision-makers: Providing decision-makers with only the necessary data they need to make a decision can help them avoid getting bogged down in irrelevant information.
- Fourth, the relationship between information and decisions is a choice organization can make from “loosely coupled” to “automated.”: Organizations can choose between “loosely coupled” and “automated” decision and information relationships. “Loosely coupled” relationships provide information to decision-makers, but they still make the final decision, while “automated” relationships make the decision through automation.
- Fifth, “loosely coupled” decision and information relationships may be efficient for information provision, but they do not necessarily lead to better decisions: While “loosely coupled” relationships may be efficient for information provision, they do not necessarily lead to better decisions.
- Sixth, the most interesting relationship involves “structured human” decisions, where humans make the final decision, but the specific information used to make the decision is made available in an enhanced way: The most interesting relationship between information and decisions involves “structured human” decisions, where humans make the final decision but have access to enhanced information to help them make that decision.
- Seventh, linking BI and data warehousing to a specific decision-making initiative is necessary to determine their value: Linking BI efforts to a specific decision-making initiative is necessary to determine their value and understand how the information and tools are being used.
- Eighth, a closer link between information and decisions requires specific focus on a particular decision: The closer organizations want to link information and decisions, the more specific they need to be in focusing on a particular decision.
- Ninth, efforts to create “one version of the truth” are useful in creating better decisions, but they can be costly and time-consuming without a clear focus on the decisions to be made: Creating “one version of the truth” can help create better decisions, but it can be costly and time-consuming without a clear focus on the decisions to be made.
- Tenth, IT solutions specific to particular industries and decisions will increasingly achieve business intelligence results: IT solutions that are specific to particular industries and decisions within them will increasingly achieve business intelligence results.
A recent article in Information Week supports these ideas, stating that the conversation is shifting towards integrated analytics within applications and looking at information in the context of specific decisions and roles. I believe this shift will be significant and transform both BI vendors and users.
In summary, organizations need to focus on decision-making and tailor their BI efforts to specific decisions, provide context and support to decision-makers, and ensure that they are providing only necessary information. They must also be strategic in their approach to linking information and decisions and focus on specific initiatives to ensure that their BI efforts are effective. Additionally, IT solutions that are specific to particular industries and decisions will continue to be important for achieving BI results.
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