„Business Intelligence business focuses on all clear usage scenarios within the companies departments which promise the profit of a competitive advantage“
That means that Business Intelligence is not only an Financial department- or IT-driven topic in companies. Most of the time these two departments are responsible for the start of BI, but they can affect other departments as well. In addition, the core element business examines the benefit of BI in the departments, users or user groups and the cost efficiency.
Information Needs of the Business have to be focused
Therefore, it is really, really important to analyze the information needs based on the business processes. Questions like “which goal do you want to achive” as well as “which process to you want to analyze” should be asked at the beginning. Next, it is necessary to think about the measurement of these goals. Sometimes it easy to define a set of key performance indicators as well as dimensional elements but sometimes it can be very hard. The problem is not the definition; it is the recording of the needed data. I will give an example how business goals can be defined as well as measured and monitored through data.
The example bases on a big online trader which wants to increase the revenue of a specific product. The product in this example is toothpaste. But it could be any other product too. The reason behind this business decision is that the online trader signed a big deal with the vendor of the toothpaste and the profit per each is twice as high before. The purchase department informed the online shop management team that the deal is signed and the advertisement should begin. The only action the shop management team does is a better positioning of the product on the website. In their opinion, that should be enough for selling more than before. The management has heart of the special contract and defines that the sales have to be 50% higher in the next six months than the months in the last year. The shop management team creates a dashboard with the sales and orders of the product toothpaste of the specific vendor and visualizes the data based on the order date and compares the kpis of this year`s month with the kpis of last year.
Visualization of data is the key
Next step after understanding the business needs is that the information representation is easy and intuitive to understand and to monitor the goals. There are certain gurus out there who developed specific concepts in order to visualize data in a correct way. To famous guys are Stephen Few and Rolf Hichert. First is known in English speaking countries like United States and England. Business Intelligence Software vendors with headquarters in these countries sell their products with words like “you can even built dashboards like Stephen Few propagates”. Vendors with headquarters in Europe sell their products with sentences like “you can even built HICHERT charts and tables”, because Hicherts concept is most famous in Europe. To give a first impression how many possibilities are there to visualize data in a correct manner, I will visualize the dashboard of the shop management team. Here are the possible charts and tables.
I do not want to say that the tables and charts are right or wrong as well as that their design is good. I only want to show that I created four examples of legal ways to monitor data with different types of objects. And there are more than these four ways of doing it. If you do not know what you are doing you are getting lost in the universe of possibilities. But be aware that a good information presentations bases on best practices as well as on the monitored goal of the business process.
Distribute one common understanding of measures and dimensions
Last step in the part of core element business is the definition and managing of measures, kpis and dimension. Therefore it is really important to define and manage the elements in a way that mostly everyone understands and accepts it. Nothing damages a business intelligence initiative if someone defines kpis on its own wether it is one person, one department or a company within the company. The problem is when kpis should be the same but are not, than the credibility of data gets lost. And that is something that does never happen!
To give an example for the measure revenue: how is it calculated? Is it only the sum of all orders? Or is it the value of each order position of each order? And how do you notice credits? Do credits reduce the revenue or not?
And an example for Dimension when visualizing the revenue: what is the date to Show the revenue? Is it the order date, billing date or delivery date? A typical answer is “good question”.
About Tobias Riedner
Tobias Riedner foundet WYCDWD.com in 2015. He works and worked as innovator, consultant, analyst and educator in the fields of business intelligence and data warehousing. He learned a lot from the best consultants, managers und educators in the past and shares his knowledge worldwide. He works for a steady growing traditional company which is a leader in industry 4.0.