Adding Interactive Business Intelligence To Your Analytics Mix

Barbara Geraghty

Unlike many left-handers, I’m a big fan of process, plans, and lists. They keep me safely on time and on budget. But, truth be told, my best business “ah ha” moments have never been scheduled.

Business insight happens when we least expect it, and it certainly doesn’t wait on IT support.

Of all the reasons an Aberdeen Group report cites for adopting visual business intelligence (BI) as part of a BI strategy, giving business managers the tools to explore their ideas in real time – without waiting eight days for IT to add a column on a report – is most compelling. The trend was clear in 2011 and has only evolved since then: best-in-class organizations have embraced the notion of BI self-sufficiency.

Aberdeen highlights two key elements of self-sufficiency: self-service BI and power users. Both challenge IT to rethink what and how it controls access to and use of corporate data.

 Self-Service Business Intelligence

Fully empowering the business community to analyze data without direct help from IT starts with an interactive, easy-to-use tool. To quote an IT manager from the survey: “The right solution is going to require a minimal amount of training – half a day at most. Here’s the tool, here’s a couple of use cases, have at it.”

Then, beyond selecting the right technology, IT needs to take responsibility for making the rich pool of corporate data available to business users. IT can also consider enabling business users to add data sources as a way to extend and enhance the information it provides.

Power Users

Those business people who are always willing to explore and experiment with the tool can be a powerful driving force to self-sufficiency. Aberdeen found that the most responsive BI implementations have a decentralized IT support structure, where support staff is embedded within the business units. Formalizing the role of the power user can provide this type of localized support.

The survey also notes that best-in-class companies have formal programs to continually develop and grow the skills and experience of the business community – for power users and less technically able managers alike.

For more takeaways on leveraging interactive BI tools, download “Agile BI: Complementing Traditional BI to Address the Shrinking Decision-Window

About Barbara Geraghty

In her 25-year career, Barbara has held various positions in technical communications, product management, marketing, marketing communications, training, and higher education.