2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
March 2013 - Magazine No. 162
March 2013 - Magazine No. 162
Edition:
Term: Embedded BI
Written By Anat Bielski

Embedded BI is an incorporation of reports and analytical abilities in existing operational systems that serve the workers during their ongoing work. This sort of BI is incorporated in the operative world and assists in making better decisions in real time.

Embedded BI should be:

  1. Relevant Content: so it presents not only generic historical information (e.g. general data from the last 12 months) rather data that enables analysis and 'deeper' dimensions that teach us of the affect certain factors have on the results.
  2. Relevant timing: received fast enough; the later in the mission the information is received, the worse the potential decision made may be.
  3. Action oriented: the BI should direct the worker towards the required action and sometimes present the worker with alternative paths.

 

The main advantage of incorporating BI features in existing systems is derived from the fact that this incorporation allows the user to access reports and/or analysis from the ongoing operation system and does not require shifting to another system in order to perform business analysis. This in practice reduces the number of actions required in order to receive information and increases the chance of using the BI reports.

 

This situation also enhances the users' sense of security and assists in making decisions based on data analysis. The suppliers of BI tools incorporated in the ongoing work systems usually create friendly intuitive work interfaces. This is noteworthy since the operation of traditional BI tools is considered complex and generate reluctance to use said tools on behalf of the users. Additional advantages to using Embedded BI according to the Aberdeen survey, in which 420 organizations were asked about their experience n the field of BI out of which 174 organizations implemented Embedded BI, include:

  1. It is easier to assimilate the tool in the organization's system.
  2. Flexibility: it is possible to create customized analytical abilities.
  3. It is more easily instilled by users.
  4. It provides added value to existing programs.
  5. It bridges the gap between "information" and "action": this tool assists users in understanding the connection between business data and the operational processes and allows them to react faster to potential threats or business opportunities.

 

According to the survey, the systems in which BI is incorporated are:

  • 65% CRM systems
  • 56% ERP systems
  • 49% monetary & accounting systems
  • 26% Supply Management systems
  • 24% operational systems

 

There are three approaches to the implementation of Embedded BI in an organization:

  1. Purchasing from an external supplier: purchasing an operational systems including BI abilities. In this case, the system supplier purchases a tool from a BI tool supplier. This approach requires the supplier developing the system to choose a suitable BI infrastructure, one easy to incorporate and adapt in the system as well as supply a user friendly interface that includes the tool's required level of functional abilities. If needed, these abilities may be expanded.
  2. Internal organizational development: developing "in-house" BI functionalities for an existing BI operational system. This approach seems cost-effective in the short run yet requires much expertise in this field on behalf of the IT department as well as a long term commitment regarding the maintenance and constant improvement of BI abilities.
  3. A synthetic approach: purchasing designated tools/infrastructures from an external supplier that allows its incorporation in an operational system while the adaptation and actual assimilation is performed by the organization's IT. This approach enables organizations to rely on Bi suppliers for maintenance, ongoing support and improvement of the BI abilities, yet requires monitoring the integration since both the operational system and the BI abilities are developing as time passes. According to the Aberdeen survey, 43% of 174 organizations that implement Embedded BI have chosen the synthetic approach and a similar percentage have decided to purchase from an external supplier.     

 

In conclusion, Embedded BI enhances the use of analytical thinking in the organization as well as distributes the use of tools to an increasing number of personnel in different fields of the organization which results in more informed decisions made based on data. Every organization considering the implementation of Embedded BI should check which way is the most efficient one in order to produce the product suitable for the organization.

 

Written By Gabi Ben- zion

When planning a new system and designing a user interface, much thought is invested in properties that will contribute to the success of the interface such as planning its structure, defining the architecture of the information and a navigation method, considering technological constraints, prioritizing the information relevant for actualizing the business goals etc. Also, different examination tools are utilized such as need identification surveys, usage checks etc. Yet since much has already been invested in planning the interface, an informed decision has already been made and a suitable interface has been chosen, we occasionally find ourselves resting on our laurels due to misconception that since we have chosen well we should leverage other aspects of the system before it airs.

It is important to remember that although good planning can predict user behavior fairly well, even the best planning cannot simulate actual user behavior in practice. Therefore, even after a certain interface has been assimilated we must utilize the resources in hand for reevaluation, planning, and assimilation in accordance with the system's needs.

 

Website managing can be analogized to vehicle maintenance, since in order to ensure optimal functionality we must monitor the state of the vehicle's oils, ensure wheel integrity and perform periodic treatments. When dealing with vehicles, examination tools are available such as an oil gauge and a dashboard. When dealing with different websites examination tools are available as well, in the form of statistics for monitoring and examining user traffic in the website.

In many projects, the main focus wasn't on establishing the system and positioning it as quickly and optimally for the organization and sometimes during the establishment stage the whole theme of analytics is neglected. The lack of a statistical database is usually realized during the assimilation and evaluation stage. That said, most platforms have a built-in statistic ability and in many cases external statistic tools can be added (e.g. Google Analytics or Cardiology added to SharePoint etc).

 

Through a simple analysis of the amount of visits and views in the site's different areas (Visits/Views/Unique users) we can find the "hot" areas in contrast to the areas less attractive to the user. We can also change the location and content in light of organizational considerations (what I want to highlight) or functional considerations (if we're searching for a certain subject, maybe we should project it in order to assist the user). This information can be used to locate "Winner Applications" and utilize them to increase usage and assimilate the site. There are advanced examination tools with which we can follow the user's moves on the screen and as a result identify the "hot spots" and leverage them for the organizational needs.

[An elaboration on the difference between visits, views and unique users is presented at the end of this article.]

 

Another noteworthy feature is Average Time on Site-from which we can learn if whoever reaches the site does so since he/she must (if the site is defined as a homepage) or accidentally (the content "sounds" relevant but actually the redirecting link was misleading). If Average Time on Site-does not exceed several seconds it is highly probable that the site was only a 'transit station', i.e. not the user's real destination. If it exceeds a minute, the user probably did read the site's content and used it.

 

Sometimes, Average Time on Site immediately following the site's launch is high and months later declines substantially. This can attributed to a decline in usage yet it is also possible that the users have already learned to know the site and so the Time to Target has substantially decreased.

 

Occasionally, we'll monitor the Bounce Rate or Exit Rate who share purpose with the Average Time on Site and allow us to notice 'fictional users that merely pass through the site. On the other hand, a page with a high Exit percentage can also mean that it is the user's target page and so after visiting it the user saw no need to wander throughout the site. This tool enables identifying what contents are important to the site's user.

 

The Exit Rate enables us to understand what existing content from the site is important for the user, yet it is common knowledge the great challenge in knowledge Management is identifying subjects we don't know about-including those we don't know that we don't know about, i.e. what the user's are searching for that site doesn't offer. Therefore, an excellent statistical tool for this need is analyzing the search words and search results. It is possible to identify how many successful/unsuccessful searches were conducted in order to identify if the failure to find the information is due to a lack of information or a lack of accessibility and correct taxonomy. When we can identify the users' expectations from the site, we can improve the interface and UX by fulfilling these expectations.

 

Other statistics that can shed light on UX and possible improvements of the system:

Clicks to Target: how many pages did the user pass through before reaching his destination?

Input Devices: which devices/operational systems/browsers were used to access the site? This data enables identification as well as adapting the interface to target audiences (such as a specific cellular device or a prominent browser).

Growth Rate: does the site serve as a format for Knowledge Reflection or Knowledge Sharing? Is the site growing or does it remain outdated?

 

Conclusion

It is important to remember that statistics are not used exclusively for assimilation and usage reassurance; rather an informed statistical analysis can be utilized in order to identify user behavior and draw operational conclusions regarding user experience and required improvements in the user interface accordingly. If when planning the system we proactively approached the user with a question such as "what would you like to see in the site"-when launching the site we can answer the question ourselves based on examining the behavior of the masses and not the answer of individuals. This is a surer recipe for a successful UX and user interface.

 

*The difference between visits, views and unique users:

  • Views: any refreshment and reloading of a page/item counts as one view
  • Visits: a visit is the user passing throughout the site (number of pages) till exiting/closing the browser (visit= 1 session). One visit will usually include several views.
  • Unique users: each user is only counted once, regardless of the amount of visits and views he/she performed.

 

References:

The UI Design Process
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/graphics/classes/6.893/F03/lectures/L2.pdf

3 Ways to Know When and How to Improve a Website [Infographic]
http://bx.businessweek.com/analytics---web-metrics/view?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mattaboutbusiness.com%2F3-ways-to-know-when-and-how-to-improve-a-website-infographic%2F

How do you measure if an interface change improved or reduced usability?
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/156176/how-do-you-measure-if-an-interface-change-improved-or-reduced-usability

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
Fax 077-5020772 * Tel 077-5020771/3 * Bar Kochva 23 st., Bnei Brak Postal: 67135