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

1 April 2015
Gabi Ben- zion
office meeting

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.


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