Enabling a Business Intelligence Self Service Platform across the Enterprise

Filed under: by: Art Style and Design

In order to better explain the concept of a self Service BI platform, let’s follow the Information Analysis Cycle with a typical Retail Merchandising scenario:

A cake mix vendor, MiaCake, is in a grocery retailer buyer’s office arguing his company needs to raise prices 15% because of high fuel prices. The buyer is skeptical as he does not know the effect this price increase will have on the consumer behavior. He starts conceptualizing how to measure the potential effect. He remembers that three months ago the competing brand was on sale and the different in price was about 15%. He writes a report comparing MiaCake’s sales and the competing brand sales during the week the competing brand was in promotion using the company’s BI platform, that by the way enables him to create his own reports and analysis on demand. One minute later with the seller still at the buyer’s office, the report comes backs and shows sales were down more than 30% for MiaCake, as consumers quickly shifted to the other brand. The vendor is shocked by the results, but can not argue against the data being show in front of him. He then calls his manager and decides to raise prices only by 5% in order to maximize revenue.

As depicted in the example above, timing is everything. If a Self Service Platform had not been present, the report might not have been possible to build without IT intervention. The vendor and the buyer would have had to resort to non-factual arguments probably leading to a less profitable scenario.

Why enable a Business Intelligence Self Service Platform in the Enterprise?

As discussed in the previous chapter, enabling a Business Intelligence Self Service Platform across the enterprise can have a positive financial impact in the organization. Once business users get more familiar with the platform, and realize how easy it is to create and execute reports on their own, they will start changing their habits to use facts to make decisions instead of gut feelings; thus enabling the next level of enterprise maturity by laying the foundation for creating repeatable/reusable strategies that can be leveraged and shared across the organization in a systematic fashion. A common framework can be created that allows interdepartmental communication and collaboration to socialize the findings and strategies that resulted from the new capabilities; providing management with the tools they need to establish common goals, and define the base methodology to achieve and measure those goals.

In many companies, this Business Intelligence platform has become the engine for positive change reaching into areas that were not traditional information customers, transforming their day to day operations, and making them more efficient and objective. IT will also perceive a significant change. As it becomes a capability provider, it is teaching the business users how to fish, instead of IT fishing for them. This paradigm change will free the resources that were previously consumed by servicing individual information requests and redirect them on growing the number of services offered by the platform, thus enabling IT to become a strategic partner with the business.