Business intelligence and data analysis are supposed to be the foundations of modern management. Instead of relying on gut instinct or habit, executives are supposed to work with data experts to get a view of what actually is happening in the company, its market, and the world around. The resulting insights are then supposed to drive strategy. Companies can, in theory, get a tremendous return on their investment – upwards of $13 for every dollar spent.
The problem is that studies, often driven by vendors, promising incredible results tend to look at successful implementations. One vendor, Information Builders, has said that the more common real-world results are disappointing. Company CIO Dr. Rado Kotorov said he’s heard consistently from executives that they aren’t seeing a return. So much for 1300 percent return.
“What I’m seeing is a trend that the operation people; the VP of operations, the president of operations those who have a really strong responsibility, they are looking to BI and saying I have thousands of dashboards and they haven’t helped me a bit to make operations more streamlined.”
The problem, according to Kotorov, is that companies invest in analytic tools and experts but too often don’t get results into the hands of front-line workers who deal with the run of business and who make daily decisions. Analytics are split away from decision making and the results, while perhaps available to top executives, don’t reach the ordinary employees who unknowingly can make or break strategy.
A big reason is cost. BI systems are licensed in a model that charges a premium for the few gatekeepers and top executives allowed access. If a single seat runs hundreds of dollars, most companies won’t be able to cost-justify wide-spread adoption.
A second problem is that providing data to front-line workers can be harder than it sounds. A worker dealing with customers in real time is unlikely to have the time to refer to data before taking an action. Instead of putting the burden on them when they have too little time as it is, companies should consider taking an automated approach.
Data experts and executives would find important insights that should drive action in a guided way. Those insights should be built by IT into operations applications that help drive business processes. That way, workers can benefit from the guidance that data can offer without having to take time away from a customer or learning how to decipher the patterns that should influence what they do.
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