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Posts Tagged ‘Lean Business Intelligence’

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Producing Business Intelligence has always been thought of as a linear process where, you have at the beginning of a the BI process, all the data, then it gets cleaned; then you populate your data warehouse and then you do your reports. The reports are then of immense use to you!

Hardly works in real life! In fact, truly useful Business Intelligence lies in Excel Spreadsheets and skunkworks projects within companies in many departments. Yes. There may be a central Business Intelligence effort, but frustration with getting precisely the information they needed at any time in the forms they need, has always been the achilles’ heel of many BI efforts within companies, especially larger ones.

I ran across a novel way of thinking about this whole process. What if you just had all the data sources available to you somewhere and you assemble in the form of a flowchart, your own unique Business Intelligence mashup including Geographic, Demographic data as needed? What if you could just drag and drop these components on the screen and you get the new kind of mashups you need?

SRC is a company that makes a product called Alteryx that enables this kind of Business Intelligence.

What is interesting about this product is that it first of all, it serves customers better! Consumers of Business Intelligence for the most part do not know ahead of time all the different kinds of Business Intelligence they need and what data needs to be collected and stored in the first place.

Add to it, the waste of human effort, and time spent on monolithic Business Datawarehousing, and Business Intelligence efforts. This is not to talking about waiting for IT resources to free up to work on  the precise kind of reports you need for your work!

By making it easy for consumers of Business Intelligence to do a lot of the assembling and analysis themselves, it makes for a Lean form of Business Intelligence effort within the company.

With the amount of Geocoding, Demographic and other location-related data available for many countries in the world in great detail, tools like these enable a Lean form of Business Intelligence, cutting a lot  of wasted efforts within large companies. For small and medium sized companies that do not have large IT departments, of course, something like this is a natural!

You can observe a lot by just watching – Yogi Berra

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Lean methods are those that cut waste in human effort, time, unnecessary movement of information or physical paper or objects.

It can also mean anything that does not add value to the end customer!  This is the basis of Value Stream Mapping, where you identify your internal activities that add value to the end customer, and eliminate those that do not. For example, someone bolting a door to a car in an assembly line is a value-adding activity. Them updating a sheet on a clipboard regarding their production statistics may be necessary from the company’s point of view, but not Value-Adding from the end customer’s point of view. After all, what do they get directly from something that benefits the company?

From this point of view, most Business Intelligence activities benefit only the company, providing them insights into what product is selling where, which sales person is selling what in what numbers in what regions, etc.

However, there is a new breed of Customer Intelligence solutions that provide direct value to the end customer.

On many store receipts, at the end of the purchase totals is a little section that is trying to persuade you to call a toll-free number or go to a web site and fill out a survey about your purchase when it is fresh in your mind.

I was chatting with Borge Hald, CEO of Medallia, and what they do. They provide a Software As a Service (SaaS) offering that enables these kinds of surveys to happen, collect Business Intelligence and provide insights about customer experiences to management.

But what is Lean about this is that it allows local Store managers or Hotel Managers to address the issues that the customer had with their experiences at their establishment.  Often, headquarters gets summarized abstracts of this kind of intelligence, but those never are Lean in the sense it benefits the end customer much. But allowing feedback about customer experiences to be channelled to the right local establishment and allowing the local management to address them directly in a timely, relevant way, Customer Intelligence becomes Value adding and as Lean as it gets!

Now companies like Medallia are making it possible to do this even from your iPhone closing the gap in time between a customer experience and the feedback to be channelled to the right people for them to take action! After all, if you need  come home, relax and start doing something else, you may never get to providing that feedback, good or bad, that you felt strongly at the location. Smartphones allow you to do that right then and there when the experience is fresh in your mind and your motivation is high!

Very interesting way to approach Business Intelligence, especially in the context of making it matter to the end customer. That’s Lean Business Intelligence!

You must learn from your past mistakes, but not lean on your past successes. – Denis Waitley

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