Five ways to get your staff better information quickly

Managing the avalanches of data generated in the enterprise can seem like an insurmountable task. And in the effort to transform that data into actionable information, many companies are turning to operational business intelligence.

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Look for decisions that can be delivered automatically

Some kinds of operational BI go beyond the collection and reporting of data to actually executing actions based on it. For example, some financial service organisations use applications that automatically analyse fluctuations in currency rates and that automatically initiate trades based on those decisions. In many manufacturing organisations, data analysis is done automatically on the progress of chemical interactions-temperature, viscosity and colour of a mixture, for example-and changes to the mixture are automatically made at the back end before it ever reaches the production line.

Identify what information employees need to succeed

The employees who make or break your company are quite likely those working on the front lines, in the call centres or with customers. Ask yourself: What information do they need to up-sell, cross-sell, deal with customer issues, recognise a valued customer or other tasks that cumulatively determine customer loyalty and retention-and your company's success. Look for ways that information can be delivered to them through easy-to-use dashboards and other BI tools.

Identify what tasks feed enterprise success

Operational key performance indicators (KPIs) should align with overarching strategic goals. In other words, what employees focus on each day should support the strategic focus of the company as a whole. One recommendation from many experts is to establish a group composed of members from both the business and IT to determine KPIs and other strategic issues. Another group of IT and business folks should be created to manage the day-to-day functioning, training and implementation of the BI tools. Both groups should communicate regularly.

Create strong communications

As with any technology implementation, an operational BI implementation will likely have many cultural issues. For example, what is the typical workday of an employee who will be using the tools? How do they like to receive or look at information? How much training will they need, both initially and ongoing, to become adept with the BI tools? What cultural resistance might there be? Ongoing communication is key to creating a culture that values and uses operational BI tools.

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