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BUSINESS: BI is a Welcome Twist in the Tale

 





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Barbi Goldblatt, Managing Director, EOH Western Cape, says many business leaders predict that the successor of the information age will be the storytelling age. But to tell meaningful stories, managers need real-time, meaningful information and this is why Business Intelligence (BI) has become a true competitive advantage.

She says that, in the current economic environment, the lack of real-time access to meaningful information on which to base critical decisions will continue to be one of the top priorities for businesses in South Africa through 2010.

The only way that businesses can stay competitive is through “new” thinking and preparation, says Goldblatt, storytelling is part and parcel of this agile thinking for the future.

BI tools have changed the storytelling landscape as we know it. It allows organisations to better understand, analyse, and even predict what’s occurring in the overall environment and in their company.

They are able to turn data into useful and meaningful information and then distribute this information to those that need it, when they need it, wherever they need it – so that they can make timeous and better informed decisions. It allows organisations to combine data from a wide variety of sources and see an integrated, up-to-date, 360 degree view.

“If a company can improve the overall quality of its decision-making processes, it can improve its overall effectiveness and efficiency. This is especially important for medium-sized companies, which, while without vast resources, are typically able to more quickly implement business decisions. BI provides a win-win solution for IT and business users by allowing the IT department/external consultants to be more productive in working with its business users to service special requests – while permitting those business users to become more self sufficient. Operations and analysis are two sides of the business, and BI allows IT to be a valued partner in both.”

Goldblatt adds that using BI does not mean eliminating spreadsheets. Rather, BI can initially be deployed by removing the “undisciplined spreadsheet environment” to create a “disciplined spreadsheet environment”, and then expanded from there. The ultimate goal should be to make users self-sufficient in being able to obtain real time, meaningful information.

Parameter-driven reports with user-selected filtering criteria can help users perform their own customised analysis. As users gain experience, they can generate their own reports and contribute to a corporate report library, but it’s up to each company to determine the approach that works best for them.

“In general, as an organisation discovers the benefits of BI, usage is likely to spread quickly. A good place to start would be to ask each department head to list the five key things they would like to have at the touch of a button, and then take it from there,” Goldblatt says.

She concludes that to stay one step ahead of the competition today, companies need to have strategic facts at their fingertips. BI tools will continue to play an important role in encouraging enterprise maturity; creating and formulating strategies and frameworks that can be leveraged across the entire organisation. The ability of BI platforms to transform day-to-day operations, making them far more efficient and effective, will remain a key driver in bottom-line growth and the rise of meaningful storytelling as mission critical.


 
 
 
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