How do you monitor the operations of your business? Weekly reports? Monthly reports? At the water cooler? When you look into your business operations and those of others, you will likely notice that we have all been doing the same business reporting for years—and in some cases, more than 20 years. Many organizations continue to make reactive decisions based on summarized historical data. Companies with more advanced BI request reports from IT. Managers do their best to describe what they’re looking for, and IT gathers the data sources and generates the reports. This process of designing business insights can be long and drawn-out, with continuous back-and-forth efforts.
How Many Metrics Do You Actually Have?
Do you need more access to data or new metrics to help you run your business? Not really. Most businesses probably run on less than 100 to 200 known metrics. Yes, you may be able to slice that information at different levels, but it is just one metric. Maybe if you are an extremely large enterprise, you might venture into a thousand known metrics, and that often means thousands of reports. Do you really need another?
The latest trend in business intelligence is self-serve BI. Software vendors keep telling us that this will tame big data, but they are just trying to sell you a bunch of software licenses you don’t need. When it comes to understanding your business, an investment in self-service BI software will only bog down data and calculations while you try to justify your numbers. Access to millions of rows of data will not ensure you are making the right decision—you won’t find that “golden nugget” with a pinch, zoom, and swipe on your tablet device. Self-service BI wastes the time of busy end-users, pointing them to big data and expecting them to make use of it when what they really need is access to well-defined sets of information that allow them to do their jobs better.
Past Data Won’t Predict the Future
When you look at data from the past, you need a large amount of information to be able to see trends. But we know that trends from the past can’t really predict future events. With real-time metrics that can send alerts to any PC, tablet, or smartphone, your decisions are informed by what’s going on right now. You and your employees can focus on what matters most and get back to work on making customers happy. I challenge you to re-think how you monitor and manage business.
Today’s BI users aren’t sitting at their desks, nor are they limited to the domain of the analysts and statisticians. BI users now include the entire workforce, in every role, including team members, managers, and executives. Managing data through well-designed BI apps has the potential to deliver enormous value. Real-time BI involves on-the-fly decision-making, made possible with personalized business information summarized and presented in a visually stimulating manner. Similar to monitoring the financial markets on TV, you can focus on the metrics that matter most to you and your company with all of your metrics gathered into one place and accessible on any device. Executives can be self-sufficient with access to up-to-date information on their mobile devices; without having to learn complex reporting tools, they are now able to concentrate on their real jobs, making those most important decisions. Managers are able to get their team members on the same page, working toward common goals. Team members are instantly alerted to an assigned action pertaining to a metric that’s suddenly RED.
The old way of analyzing our businesses doesn’t cut it anymore and self-serve BI only convolutes the issue. The ability to make informed, real-time decisions with a glance at your PC or mobile device is where future successes lie.