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Using Business Intelligence to Survive the Recession, Part I

There’s mainly one question being tossed around these days, at least as we hear it: how do companies not only survive but improve during times of economic recession?

One tool that can certainly assist is Business Intelligence (BI).  When one says BI, there are many reactions from “what is that?” to “oh right, you mean reporting” and the more classic definitions of “a set of concepts, methodologies, tools and software to improve business decision making based upon fact based data.”   Companies that view BI as just another IT tool or as a collection of reports will likely find it challenging to use BI to improve their top and bottom lines.  After all, reports provide data and information, but rarely answer business questions and provide decision making ability.   What glamour is there in reporting?

A well designed BI program certainly consists of reports, but also of other key tools such as interactive and “what-if” dashboards.  Regardless of the tool that is used however, the key is to design the solution that is embedded in the business process and truly answers a business question.   BI should be a normal part of the workflow of an individual’s day and executed in a manner such that BI actually influences and drives what a CFO, VP, manager, line leader or individual contributor focuses on for their workday.

Of course this is easy to say, but to execute it is another story, right?  Actually, it is not all that complex.  Truly what it comes down to is the mechanism and manner in which requirements are defined and gathered.  If you take traditional methods of simply asking what reports and individual or business unit requires, your answer will be plain and simple based upon traditional needs and not necessarily based upon new capabilities of software or based upon the daily workflow process.  However, if you deploy a requirements based upon workflow approach, the results can be dramatically different.   We still haven’t explained how we do this, so stay tuned for that post.  It’s coming next.

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