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Why thinking about decisions should be a BI best practice


Syndicated from BeyeNetwork

I was struck today by a short but effective Information Builders PowerPoint – Four Worst and Four Best Practices in Business Intelligence. I really liked the worst practices – especially the one about assuming that business people have the skills or time to learn to use a BI tool. I blogged not long ago about the problem that most people are not very good at math and this is just as true when considering BI more generally as when thinking about data mining and analytics.  It’s also true that many of the people targeted by BI tools don’t have the time to use drill-down and analysis tools. Think about the folks in the call center – they want answers, not an ability to explore, so that they can finish the call. This is why it is important to think about the decisions involved and who you want making them. Knowing the decision and the decision maker will help you determine if you need BI tools to help decide or analytics and rules to automate that decision. And remember, just because someone passes on the result of a decision does not mean that the same person is qualified to make the decision. A call center representative might be the one to pass on a denial of a refund for instance but you might want someone else to decide which refunds get denied. Automating the decision can allow one person to control how the decision is made while others pass on these decisions.

I was also struck by the worst practice of selecting a BI tool without a specific business need. I spoke about this when I presented in South Africa earlier this year. If the reason you buy a BI tool is just to have BI then you probably aren’t helping your company as much as you could be. Understand the business drivers – the decisions that must be made, the reports required for compliance – and you will do better. You can check out the slides and audio from this presentation on my website – Does BI Matter? (large file warning)

And this brings us back to my favorite Best practice – identify your business need upfront. Or, I would say, begin with the decision in mind.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ned Kumar September 11, 2010, 8:37 am

    Good points on BI usage. I would agree with you that the needs and goals for BI tool(s) should be defined upfront. But I would also say that if someone is thinking of having call-center folks do BI analytics then they really don’t know what BI is about.

    Call-center folks can definitely benefit from use of BI tools. However, their benefit derives from leveraging the outputs from the BI analytics rather than doingn the analysis using the BI tool. That is not their job and not their compensation model either.

    I also think “assuming that business people have the skills or time to learn to use a BI tool” being a worst-practice is not a fair statement. For one, it would depend on your definition of ‘business people’. And second, it would depend on the tool and the usage. Anyway, this is a discussion in itself but I would say that there are many groups of business folks – analysts, marketers, sales, customer service etc. and there are many facets to a BI tool. Matching the two up is the key – which group uses which feature.

    Enjoyed the read.