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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 


I am trying to find a forum to discuss high-level/philosophical approaches to BI, but am finding it difficult. The work of Stephen Few is the closest I can find to someone who is looking beyond the technology into the actual motivations behind BI. So I thought I'd put my thoughts out there and see if anyone was interested.

This is my first post to the forum, and my idea might actually be entirely mundane and unremarkable, but it seemed new and important to me, so here goes:

BI Fundamental #1: The conversation

We all know that all lot of BI falls on deaf ears.

For BI to be successful, it needs to facilitate a conversation. By that, I mean that it needs to understand that there are two “actors” (in software development speak) involved in all BI.

<<see attached diagram>> 

BI succeeds only when it is used by X to tell something to Y, where X and Y are clearly defined people or groups of people.

BI is generally requested by an individual who is interested in finding something out, e.g. monthly revenue. The BI Analyst must go beyond the metric and understand the motivation. Who are X and Y involved in this exchange of information? Exactly what is it about monthly revenue that X is trying to tell Y? 

The person requesting the info might be a CEO wanting to inform the board about how well they are doing in boosting monthly revenue, in which case they would want a line chart showing an upward trend, or they might want to alert the General Managers about struggling Business Units, so a bar chart with the revenue broken down by Business Unit would be more useful.

The point is: if BI is seen as being part of a conversation between two distinct groups, it has a chance of being helpful. Otherwise it will join all those other reports and charts that are looked at once, and sit gathering dust on a lonely shared drive somewhere.

That's what I think anyway.


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Posts: 33
Reply with quote  #2 
yes, agreed, "what's the story" and "who are you telling it to"

Peter Robinson
in Brisbane, Australia

Posts: 21
Reply with quote  #3 
I think X should understand the business model of the company, and how that metric fits into the overall business model (where that metric is on the profitability and/or balance sheet map).

Optimally your X will understand the accounting, finance, and operations ramifications of the data set and changes.  These understandings will all dictate the design of the BI message.

Y should also have the same understandings in order to properly receive/interpret the message. 

I rarely meet an X or Y that understands all this, and there ends up being lots of fail to go around, but I've had a fairly short career and worked with a fairly small sample sizes of companies, X's & Y's. 
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