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Recipe for Business Intelligence and Analytics Perfection

Michael is the Director of the Business Intelligence & Analytics practice at Tribridge. Read More

Tribridge recently wrapped up our annual company-wide event, Connect 16. Throughout the weekend, the team heard me talk a lot about Business Intelligence and Analytics (BI&A), and they excitedly confirmed that BI&A was the icing on the cake when we provide solutions for our customers.

The more I thought about it though, the more I came to the realization that BI&A isn't just the icing on the cake. It is the cake - the whole cake, the rich, beautiful, decadent, glossy, mouth-watering chocolate cake, covered in chocolate ganache and wrapped in chocolate ribbons.

Let me explain. When you look at that eye-popping chocolate cake, it seems like a real indulgence, but an optional one and one that you can easily walk away from. But the more you think about it, the more you begin to realize that this isn't the case. That luscious, enticing chocolate cake is the work of many peoples’ hands: some have raised the chickens and collected the eggs; some have grown corn and milled the flour; and others have harvested the cocoa beans. Then, it was a process of getting the raw materials packaged and transported to the artisan chef to transform these raw materials into an enticing end-product.

This is a remarkable analogy to BI&A.

The raw materials in this case are the data that your organization has collected. You have invested extraordinary amounts of resources in creating, collecting, cleansing and processing this data – data about your customers, your manufacturing or delivery processes, your websites and from social media, as well as many others. You have reviewed the data and prepared it for use by your businesses and stakeholders. Many of your organizations have also transported this data to a common location like a data warehouse, but haven't taken this nearly far enough.

Instead, many organizations have left this data in something close to its raw form - something about as appetizing as a raw egg or a bag of flour. That's very unfortunate, considering all of the raw materials that you have in the form of data, and how a skilled artisan like a chef, can blend those materials and transform them into something magical.

Here's what I mean:

  • Combine materials: Every business uses some type of raw materials to produce their products or services, but frequently overlook their data as one of those resources. Combine the raw materials mentioned above and you have a much more mouth-watering result. The same can be said when you mash up and combine your data – the results can be very insightful, and much more appetizing than their raw form.
  • Presentation is everything: As good as a decadent chocolate cake might be, unless it is presented well, not many people will try it out. The same can be said for your BI&A solution. As compelling as the data might be, unless you present it in an attractive, well-designed and easily-digestible format, the best you can expect to get is some nibbles and a whole lot of leftovers.
  • Serve the need and consider the appetite: Understand the need and “appetite” of users before embarking on a BI&A effort. Serving a rich chocolate cake when all they want is a crisp kale salad is akin to giving them the best darned dashboards you could envision, when they are struggling to produce a consolidated income statement in a timely manner. Likewise, spending time improving the financial reporting solution when they really need real-time insight into the business is like serving unsalted rice cakes with candles at a birthday party – very un-filling.
  • Test and adjust your “recipe”: Lastly, test and adjust your recipe for that chocolate cake, using feedback from the people who are tasting it to make it better. Excellent chefs do this - the same should be done with your BI&A solution. What you produce out of the gate is a good first effort, but you shouldn’t stop there. Evaluate it, get input, gauge reactions and adjust to satisfy the appetite without giving them too much to digest at once.

Your organization has done the grueling, back-breaking work of collecting, cleansing, processing, and packaging your data. It’s now time to reap the benefits of that, and be able to really savor the results of that.

Contact us to schedule a one-on-one discussion to see if we have the right recipe for you.

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