2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
April 2015 - Magazine No. 187
April 2015 - Magazine No. 187


'BI for the Masses' or 'BI for each employee'?

Gabi Ben Zion

Much was written on the subject of 'BI for the masses'. Actually, during the last decade BI for the masses was one of the central 'buzz words' in the world of BI. In this article I don't intend to repeat the conclusions of past researches, rather to offer an original interpretation.

The common interpretation nowadays of BI for the masses is 'enabling access to business-oriented information to various layers of workers in the organization'; thus including not only analysts and managers, but also field workers in real-time situations taking decisions based on the updated integrated data.

While this is all definitely true, I believe that a big part of the distribution of BI as a concept among the masses is losing its relevance. Let me explain:

One might think that the organization must create a database and supporting tools in order for their Mass BI ability will be instilled in the whole organization. I believe that the contrary is true. In today's world of knowledge, any worker equipped with the most basic analysis tools can create, maintain, analyze, and produce intelligent conclusions (based on empirical information relevant to his decision).

The aforementioned misconception somewhat wrongfully narrows the use of BI to the strategic or sales field. In any business field, be it HR (e.g. customer satisfaction), procurement and logistics departments, and obviously when dealing with organization and methodology. For every subject business goals can be defined in, an empirical test can be conducted. The results and the reality (as opposed to our perception) can then be analyzed and decisions can be intelligently made.

BI is not intended only for the big systems, and a Knowledge Management server farm is not mandatory. Some great tools are available nowadays, Excel for beginners and Power BI or Power Pivot for more advanced users that allow creating a BI array without much prior knowledge.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that even when the BI and its tools are accessible to the masses, they should be utilized correctly. One should ensure the following:

A complete data collection process (either performed once or continuously updated). Make sure that the collected information supports the goal, the time range is relevant to our prediction, the information is accessible and constructed in an analyzable manner (e.g. a table), and the database covers a wide range of the activity in the field (and not merely a partial review).

Building an analytical model: before we inspect the data we must decide what manipulations we must perform on the content in order to derive insights from it.

Analyzing and producing insights for the future.

As soon as a stable database is created, we can always "throw in" all the info and produce insights quite easily, as long as the database is based on the aforementioned model.

In conclusion, BI is not just a slogan and BI for the masses is not just a buzz word. Every manager must possess a set of decision-supporting tools and each tool must be mainly based on relevant business information.

BI is not meant solely for sales and strategy departments. It is suitable for any unit anywhere. Any organization can benefit from BI-oriented decision making.


 Bring the power of data to every user in your organizationhttp://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/solutions/business-intelligence/default.aspx

 BI for the Masses | Computerworldhttp://www.computerworld.com/article/2565423/business-intelligence/bi-for-the-masses.html

Business Intelligence for the masses: a new way of making decisionshttp://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/management/why-it-s-important-to-empower-all-staff-members-with-business-intelligence-1284436




Written By Sagit Salmon

External Accessibility is defined as the process of accessing a piece of information; the steps one follows in order to reach the requested knowledge.

As people think differently, due both to their nature and the context of their work, it is best to design alternative channels enabling access to the information. This is true for internet sites, as well as for extranets and intranets. It is true for any information system (ECM, documents, service center, etc.)


What external access channels exist?

The main channels enabling external access nowadays include:


Menus/ Content trees

Provide hierarchy navigation. Used for organizing the different themes featured in the website hierarchically, similar to the hierarchy in a folder-based organization system or a shared driver. The information is accessed by clicking and choosing a path.

A content tree can be organized according to professional subjects, file type, organizational structure or processes.

This channel seems very natural for human usage, yet enfolds two challenges:

One challenge has to do with hierarchy. We don't always find one hierarchy suitable for addressing all needs. In rare cases, we can enable more than one hierarchy using several sets of menus. Such a solution must be designed very carefully in order to not confuse the user by overwhelming him with options.

The second challenge in utilizing a content tree is maintaining the balance between the "width" of the tree and its "depth". A tree too wide contains a long list of subjects which can make navigating difficult, while a tree too deep requires many clicks which may be tiring.

It is recommended to provide a solution in which the user will not have to "dive in" more than 3 levels deep or review in a specific branch (width speaking) more that can be viewed in one glance without scrolling.



Search engines enable the users to locate the information directly- with no structure, as required in navigation. The search is by text only (free search) or in joint with attributes and values filtering the search content (advanced search). It is recommended to note three issues: keeping the search fast, simple and accurate. Usually the “simple” challenge is the easiest to deal with, and the most important, as the search engines do a good job on being accurate and fast. While people like to use free search, they less mind filtering results (post search) and therefore, special care should be taken as how to display the results in a friendly manner, enabling easy refinement, after the first search was produced.


Pictures & Icons (representing quick links)

Pictures & icons provide the website with interest, color and simplicity. They usually allow access to selected information within a single click. Sometimes, icons can substitute for a menu. When using a series of pictures/icons, it is important to maintain some connection between the different images (size, style and/or shape). Obviously, the icon must represent the content to which it leads (e.g. a telephone icon leading to a contact list). If possible, it is preferable to use universal symbols (such as a stop signs or an error notification).


Bread Crumbs

Bread Crumbs comprise the official hierarchy path leading to the page one is observing. Usually, this path includes several levels, each serving as a hyperlink leading to some lobby page on the way. Bread Crumbs allow the user to "skip" from one level of the hierarchy to another, yet does not allow navigating between items located on the same level. In many platforms, Bread Crumbs are created automatically as the site is constructed. When Bread Crumbs are meant to be used as a main tool of external accessibility, it is recommended to design them in a noticeable manner. In this case, they should indeed be hyperlinks.


Tag Clouds

Tags are key words attached to knowledge items that can assist in accessing them. A tag cloud is a collection of key words presented as hyperlinks which enables quick access to different items deep into the site, items not necessarily related. The words in the tag are presented in different sizes, usually signifying the level of popularity of the items. For more information, click here.


Personal favorites

Personal favorites are preferences that allow the user to manage his own list of common used items to which he wants to navigate within one click. This is the only means of External accessibility listed here that is personally managed and controlled by the user.


Guidelines for designing External Accessibility

  • Concise: Easily understanding where to go
  • Consistent: Ensuring same rules apply for all channels and their contents.
  • Short: Giving the user the cognitive impression that he/she does not have to think nor strain in order to reach whatever item he is interested in
  • Pleasant: Enjoying the ride.


In short, External Accessibility deals with leading the user to the requested information.

And what happens when we reach the information?

That will be elaborated on in "Internal Accessibility".



Written By Revital Elazar
Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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