There are so many analytics platforms and tools on the market today. Each one promises you a Nirvana of insights. Your organisation will extract golden nuggets from your data and you’ll find new markets, new product opportunities. Some promise that you won’t even need the IT department to help, just connect to this and that app and off you go! All for some monthly fee and a little integration work up front. As for not needing the IT department, they may be right, but for the wrong reason.
What these analytics tools, dashboard apps and such are selling you on however, is Business Intelligence which is not an Intelligent Business. They make one key, underlying assumption. That is that your company has Information Management (IM) and Knowledge Management (KM) [a subset of IM] nailed down and in place. For companies that do, such tools and apps are far easier to implement. That is rare for small to medium sized organisations and is the first roadblock.
First off, what is an Intelligent Business? Business Intelligence is the use of tools and apps that can extract insights from your various data sources and display it in a way that enables you to make intelligent decisions…the right information to the right people at the right time to make the right decision. To get to that point however, you need to become an Intelligent Business.
An Intelligent Business is when you have established good Information Management best practices. When you have Knowledge Management in place, you know your data sources, you manage them and you know how information is used, flows and is managed well. Employees and managers that have to spend hours on end searching for information from all over the organisation to create dashboards is not an Intelligent Business. It’s a huge productivity loss and time suck.
Getting to an Intelligent Business means employees and management can pull together the information they need fast and simply. Creating new dashboards whether inside an app or say an Excel spreadsheet is not considered a time waste. Getting there requires understanding the roadblocks and how to remove them.
Roadblocks to an Intelligent Business
Here are where we see the primary roadblocks to getting to an Intelligent Business.
Change Management & Culture: This is perhaps the most significant issue to be addressed up front. It will mean changes to workflows and getting employees to move away from “well, this is the way it’s always been done” because they’ve accepted the pain of what it takes to create a dashboard today. They may be wary of the promises of new tools and methods.
Information Architecture (IA): This is the first major work to be done to be able to get to the desired end state. This is all about putting the architecture in place to be able to manage your information better later. It’s about understanding all your data sources, what tools are used to extract information and how it moves and is shared within the organisation. This is not the job of the IT department either. Asking them to do IA work is like asking a plumber to do the electrical work and wondering why it doesn’t work later.
Information Management (IM): This comes after you have done your IA strategy and is the implementation part. In the IA strategy, all data sources have been identified and you’ve decided what tools will be used and the common rules. This is where the rubber hits the road. It means IT and IM people work together.
Business Intelligence (BI): Once the IA and IM is in place, you can start layering in more BI tools and services. IT does the implementation and whoever is in charge of IM, then works to help ensure people are trained and knowledgeable. With good IM and Knowledge Management in place, you can make far smarter decisions on what technologies you’ll really need. This reduces time to implement and train and money wasted on the wrong tools.
It may sound like a huge investment for a small or medium sized business, but it doesn’t have to be. For a huge enterprise business with thousands of employees, they’ve probably already got these processes and best practices in place. The upside is that you probably already have the tools for IM, you’re just not using them right. And with so many SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) tools out there, it’s far less costly than it used to be.
But consider the roadblocks first.