About Business Intelligence : using, thinking, delivering

Last week I participated in a partner event hosted by timeXtender partner element61.
One of the sessions was a customer testimonial from Isabel (www.isaBEL.eu)
Truely amazed by their focus on user experience, somewhat of an inspiration I’d like to share.
We can agree that, in order to derive value from any system, you need to have people using it.
Thinking about BI systems, I have identified the following events,
required to make good use of available intelligence:
1) using: the end-users should want to make use of the BI system
2) thinking: we need to make sure the system contains usefull information
3) delivering: we need to build and maintain a good system
In my view, too much focus tends to be on delivering (3) and thinking (2).
In my experience, often people build (3), then think (2), then build again (3) – and at some point later down the line, they try to include usage (1). It’s a bit of a waterfall inheritance.
But even in the Agile context, the focus on usage may be implied, it is by no means given nor automatic.
As a result, there are many circumstances of well built, well thought of BI systems, with little or no usage. (when was the last time you made use of your BI system?)
I believe usage should be on top of the agenda, and the interaction with the end-users in each stage will be key to success.
The Agile BI user story may be a good template to use. Meaning that: a solid stack of BI user stories (1) will be leading steps 2 (thinking) and 3 (delivering), and not the other way round.
From the event, I managed to learn some insights from the Isabel BI success. They use some simple, clever inetrventions to enable user interaction.
Some (10) examples on how IsaBEL makes this work cost nothing, and take little to no effort
1) they use a specific BICC@isabel email address on the system front page – to invite interaction
2) when users send questions, they get invited to come talk to the BI analyst, so they really understand the user story, provide additional inspiration, etc. – real interaction
3) being pro-active, the BI team creates infographics. A new infographic each week, 52 weeks per year. – provides inspiration to the end users – create new content so the environment gets more visitors
4) they issue a news feed in the system main page, with a strong focus on training – even stronger interaction
5) training is mostly about content (what to learn from), not about tooling (how to build)
6) they use a simple text on top of the portal quoting ‘All data has been loaded and is up to date’ – which gives confidence for the end users
7) the site accesspage is simple, with just some start information on the front page
8) the site is ergonomic, no flashy graphics on the main page
9) Luc Neysens, CEO @ IsaBEL has expressed support by stating that ‘ all information on my desk must come from the BI system ‘
10) Els De Meersman, BI lady at IsaBEL spends 45% of here time interacting with end users
I applaud IsaBEL with regards to how they focus on the end user.
I’d love to hear some other thoughts on this.

1 Comment

  1. …very insightful. It’s my experience that data is uncomfortable for those who need it most. I’m finding my role is as much to educate and facilitate as it is to deliver.


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