When does business information become a hindrance to an organisation? Today, using Business Intelligence (BI) tools tends to turn into ‘information overload’, without knowing where to start or how long it will take to see results. The prevailing outcome? The very value and wealth a company sets out to find becomes lost in the perplexity of the data.
And after all the processing, nobody wants today’s data to be yesterday's information. The expectation that your team will be able to operate and measure any up-to-date insight becomes reduced to a battle to process the never ending influx of data, with any sense of strategic direction further out of reach.
The solution? Rethinking BI to transform it into business advantage. As Robert Dagge, Managing Director, Dynistics, explains, no business is unique, just different and the use of pre-defined charts that are honed by industry experts can deliver those desired business insights within hours, not days, weeks or months!
Fundamentally, data is the opportunity for profit and competitive advantage, and because of this, the pressure to capitalise on it is constantly increasing. Even in the age of analytics and the height of BI maturity and Artificial Intelligence (AI) where the potential to transform data is immense, some companies have not awoken from the inefficiencies of excel. This begs the question, why is BI still failing to attract and deliver?
Competing in a data-driven world becomes even more difficult with the endless opportunity that BI offers. Overwhelmed companies can end up wrestling with their data, resulting in an adverse response to any BI initiative.
For some, end results can be immediately tracked. As a case in point, recruitment companies can successfully track their progress from the job advertisement through to interviews and job placement. But BI opens the door to gain phenomenal insight into every one of those areas: which job board delivers the best value, in which vertical markets and roles? Are more expensive specialist sites offering better ROI in terms of placement ratios? The art of the possible may be incredibly compelling, but once a company starts to fall down the possibilities rabbit hole it can be incredibly tough to emerge. The result? Months have been spent with expensive consultants. Nothing has been achieved. The data is still underused and the business has failed to attain the insight required to drive performance. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Losing sight of goals
BI tools are incredibly powerful and the simple and compelling visualisation tools too often mask the essential complexity of knowing how to use data to achieve business objectives. With this power comes the ability to promise the world, but the bigger the promise, the longer the process; implementation can end up taking weeks, months or even years and getting users up to speed can take just as long.
It is not the data or the BI tools that are the problem, it is the difficulty organisations have in understanding how a data driven business could operate and making that a reality without being led astray by the sheer breadth and depth of data opportunities. The two issues together can become a toxic combination because the business never achieves the quick wins required to prove the value of BI or reinforce the correct data culture and attitude across the organisation.
A different approach is now essential. The data deluge is only going to increase and those companies unable to turn this to their advantage will not succeed. What is required is a way to harness specific data sets quickly that are totally relevant to the business need.
Think about now
The key is to focus on the immediate. Avoid becoming paralysed by data and the endless possibilities that BI offers by pinpointing objectives that are within reach; being realistic is fundamental to achieving immediate results. Pre-built dashboards and charts that are designed by industry experts can provide this by approaching and predicting the challenges that companies within a vertical market will face. This instant access to information, that all companies demand and require, is able to have a transformative effect on a businesses growth and success.
A college, for example, can implement an attendance dashboard within hours – providing the essential view of student attendance and work appraisal that can provide an early warning of potential drop out. Rather than waiting for term or year-end reports, leveraging real-time information, a red flag on the dashboard can prompt tutors or course leaders to intervene and understand why that student is struggling. In addition to helping colleges proactively address student safeguarding issues, this insight supports the Project 42 issue, minimising the loss of funding that results from students leaving before 42 days have passed – and reducing financial losses.
As there are huge financial pressures present within education, the ability to proactively address funding in this way will deliver an immediate benefit. Indeed, one college used data from its attendance dashboard to undertake the early intervention with students that prevented 86 learners from dropping out. A win for both college and students; and a platform upon which to build further issue-specific dashboards.
When implemented effectively, BI can transform a business. From a company that was able to reduce its bill time by 50 per cent, to a CEO who was able to spend 100 days of the year making far-reaching decisions rather than scanning the data for information, the possibilities are infinite.
And they understand why they are using BI. The power of data visualisation is a call to arms – it delivers that immediate view of performance that enables organisations to prioritise activity. If all the lights are green, no need to intervene; if it’s red – time to step in and find out what is going on.
The key is to avoid doing anything too quickly or doing too much at one time. The companies that use BI to make smart decisions take bite sized pieces, they keep it simple and focused to deliver immediate benefit and, critically, demonstrate the value of data driven decision making to the rest of the business.
Robert Dagge, Managing Director, Dynistics (opens in new tab)
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