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Decision Management, Tom Davenport and the New BI

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Tom wrote an interesting post this week on 10 Principles of the New Business Intelligence and made a couple of really good points:

1. Decisions are the unit of work to which BI initiatives should be applied.
2. Providing access to data and tools isn’t enough if you want to ensure that decisions are actually improved.

I like these two as I think they represent the crux of my worries about BI as it is mostly done today – reporting, data warehouses, OLAP etc. Unless you are clear what decisions you are trying to improve and focus on those decisions then BI will not improve them no matter how much you invest. This is something Tom has discussed before and about which I have blogged.

Tom’s graphic has a nice section at the top on automated decisions where information and decision have to be tightly coupled. While I like his sliding scale – from tightly to loosely coupled – I think many organizations over estimate how loosely coupled they can get, leaving far too many decisions to be loosely coupled or even completely decoupled from the information. Apart from anything else I think it requires some coupling of decision and information to apply analytics effectively – you must know what decision you are trying to make to correctly identify the analytics you need. Tom says:

8. The more closely you want to link information and decisions, the more specific you have to get in focusing on a particular decision.

To which I would add that the more you want to drive the decision using analytics, the more closely you will want to link information and decisions. Managing decisions using Enterprise Decision Management tightly couples information and decisions allowing for more automation and more analytics.

By the way, if you don’t already own Tom’s book Competing on Analytics, you should buy it.

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