This is our blog about designing and implementing Intelligent organizations. Within this area of expertise we write often about the following subjects BI, analytics, the tools, decision management, data visualization, BI success, Business Intelligence concepts, data management, continuous improvement, and the organization of BI & Analytics.
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The question that we are being increasingly asked lately is, ‘Could the credit crisis and its consequences have been avoided with an intelligent organization?’ In this article, we explore where and how the credit crisis began, its effects and the characteristics of an intelligent organization that should have been able to play a role in that. Finally, we give a number of options on how you can reduce the current consequences with concepts from the intelligent organization and can even exploit opportunities. Even if you have no business intelligence (BI) system.
The title may cause you to raise your eyebrows. organizations that are intelligent? Do they exist? Moreover, what is the point of an organization being very smart?
The answer is simple: intelligent organizations perform better across the board. They make more profit, have more satisfied customers, manage their workload better and innovate more successfully. This is apparent from a large-scale Passionned Group study of nearly three hundred and sixty-six companies with more than two hundred and fifty employees.
Data warehouses typically contain quite a lot of content. Let us assume, for convenience sake, that much of this content is relevant and reliable. This is often not (yet) the case, but fine, we want to address another issue here, namely that the user cannot find information even though it is available in the right quality.
I myself have once examined what the reason for this could be and have compiled a preliminary list:
Recently I was invited to a management team (MT) meeting of a financial services company. They asked me to lay down a clear vision about a specific Business Intelligence issue. In addition to the CEO and several managers, the CFO of the company was also present. He bemoaned the fact that the figures from the data warehouse never corresponded to those in his accounting system. He wanted one version of the truth, which is a praiseworthy thing in itself.
Managers should be able to give good leadership, to know their position, where they are going and how to get there as quickly as possible ideally in a context of inspiration, mobilization, appreciation and reflection.
In this article, Daan van Beek argues why it may be wise to consider at least doubling the number of managers in your organization. You may have too few. This statement may be somewhat incongruous because the general perception would be that there are actually too many managers. The major companies of this world are supposed to be populated with them. So why this statement?
Many companies are looking for ideas to increase employee productivity and reduce the cost of business operations to increase their competitiveness. As information in society becomes increasingly and more digitized, the moment has come to get more of a grip on the huge mountain of data, and to implement smart solutions for managing this data from the cradle to the grave.
It is a business problem that sometimes even gets the better of the IT department and needs attention from top management to set the course.
In order to prepare an organization Cockpit, it is sufficient that the organization has a strategy at a certain point in time. However, writing a book on strategic performance management without ‘coming clean’ is not possible. Because, in strategy formulation, content, tools like Cognos and BusinessObjects, and process influence each other. That is also the reason that the leadership of an intelligent organization tries to make content and process reinforce each other.
Twelve months ago, Walraven, an international wholesaler dealing in construction and installation materials, was named as the smartest organization in the Netherlands. In an interview with Tino Hartsink, IT manager of Walraven, we look back at the successful 2010 Business Intelligence Award contest.
The existence of the Business Intelligence Award was pointed out to Walraven by their own customers and suppliers. “It was not obvious to us that we should enter for the BI Award”, IT manager Tino Hartsink told us. “Customers drew our attention to the prize and at the same time indicated that they felt Walraven would have a good chance of winning the Award because Walraven has such well organized business processes”.
Strategy formulation can take place in completely different ways. There is apparently no ‘one best way’. The strategy schools with their four quadrants urge managers to make a choice themselves depending on their own situation. Despite the differences, I think that conclusions can also be drawn that are applicable to almost all situations. With these conclusions, I indicate how strategy formulation in an organization can be carried out more effectively.
How can you get a better grip on business processes and transform your company into an organization where the customer comes first? The idea of role-based portals can provide new thinking and give you a fresh perspective on your organization.
Nowadays it is important for every company to put the customer first. It is all about companies listening carefully to the customer, understanding what the customer needs and ensuring that the customer’s needs are met quickly. All companies, both profit and non-profit, wish to excel in this and thus distinguish themselves from the competition.
A well designed Performance Management system has striking similarities with a well-designed game. I will describe below how to achieve cross fertilization between performance management and the game world.
First, some definitions.
We see two approaches within the gaming world that might be interesting for Performance Management: ‘Serious Gaming’ and ‘Gamification’.
The term Serious Gaming is used when games are deployed outside the game environments that are traditionally meant for entertainment. Examples of this are management games, simulation games and board games that are used in a business context. We therefore temporarily step out of the work environment in order to be able to undergo awareness training and/or learning objectives in a safe way.
The Amsterdam-Amstelland Fire Brigade emerged as the big winner at the presentation of the Dutch BI Awards in 2013. They were able to take home not only the audience prize, but also the jury prize. The ability to predict potential fire locations and subsequently conduct targeted awareness campaigns specifically at those locations and therefore prevent fires, made a huge impression on both the jury and the audience.
In the National Business Intelligence (BI) Survey, the public sector achieves the lowest score of all the sectors. It is interesting then to know what the business sector is really doing differently from the public sector. Where are the opportunities for improvement within the context of government, education and health care? And how much room for improvement is there actually, given the legal frameworks and regulations? Or are these not really an obstacle?
Possible objections to performance management that are often mentioned include:
The introduction of performance management evokes resistance because it reduces existing freedom of action. This observation is correct: freedom of action is indeed reduced. However, in the context of the methodology, this is seen as desirable. Managers cannot confine themselves to flashy activities, but must manage the everyday practicalities.
We have been searching for the holy grail of Business Intelligence for many years, or what makes an organization really smart and able to achieve good results. How can we find the grail, use it and incorporate it into Business Intelligence projects? The last point is not unimportant. The objectives and deliverables of a project can drastically change because of this.
Instead of aiming at a working reporting environment that draws on multiple sources, we choose a different ambition level where we try to ensure that relevant information is or can be used for performance improvement. However, the way the Business Intelligence is organized will also need to be at a different level of operation. It’s nice to find and keep the Holy Grail, but being able to do something with it is the important thing. Below is a summary of the article in the latest Business Intelligence and Performance Management research. Do you want to know exactly what the situation is with the holy grail of Business Intelligence? Then order the research paper ‘Business Intelligence Pitfalls & Success factors’ now.
In a recent poll, we asked visitors to this website to vote on the statement “If Business Intelligence is successful it turns the organization upside down”. The outcome of this poll has surprised us positively; the majority of voters believe that with a successful implementation of Business Intelligence the organization is turned upside down. In other words, the organization is going to organize itself differently or regroup.
Daan van Beek and Wouter Huisman of Passionned Group have been supporting a project group of the Municipality of The Hague for some time. The goal is to achieve a municipality-wide Business Intelligence Roadmap. “In terms of business intelligence we are really still learning to walk,” says Ling Po-Shih, Group Advisor / Project Manager Business Intelligence (BI) at the Municipality. “In 2009 internal research showed that we were not at all ready for BI at the time. We did that research again in 2013. Now we are at the point where we want to draw up a BI Roadmap. We do, however, need some help with that.”
Business Intelligence (BI) is described, both appropriately and inappropriately, as a way to ‘bring the right information in the right form at the right time to the right person’. That is right four times, but formulated very abstractly. By applying the aforementioned combination, information becomes meaningful and relevant for the end user. The practical translation shows just how complex the implementation of the combination is: the number of possible variations is in fact very large!
Passionned Group assisted accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in the design and implementation of a powerful Business Intelligence system. Until recently this office managed on the basis of figures that lay hidden in collections of spreadsheets, stunning presentations and all kinds of downloads, in particular on financial indicators.
However, these only relate to a small part of the process. “We should not only look back, but also look forward in the process. That was one of our main objectives in creating our Business Intelligence system”, says Jan Maarten van der Meulen, member of the Advisory board and client.
I am Daan van Beek of the Passionned Group. Our job is helping people to work smarter. It starts with people, with the human side of Business Intelligence and organizational renewal. To put it better, it means that the organization must have a certain ambition, you must want to go somewhere and creating that is perhaps the most difficult thing in our profession, you have to start things going and teach people to start things going.
Since early 2014, the BI team of the Carante Group in the Netherlands has been working on the redesign of their 12-year-old BI environment. “On the one hand, it is about developing a new vision and a strategy, on the other hand we want to organize BI better and give it more body.” They are doing this with the help of Marc Wijnberg, senior BI consultant at Passionned Group.
The Carante Group is a consortium of twelve autonomous, regional foundations that are active in the care sector. These organizations work together through their 20,000 employees to provide care, guidance and support, tailored to the needs of their 25,000 clients. The Carante Group is active in the care sector and provides services to people with a physical and/or mental disability, psychiatry, care of the elderly, welfare and youth assistance, in other words care in the widest sense.
In response to the news stories about the National BI Survey in various trade journals including the one in Computable of Friday, the 30th of January this year headlined – “BI almost never pays off” – we can at least conclude that the subject is alive.
We also understand that you, like us, warmly support the profession. However, we must not lose sight of the reality, which corresponds with the perceptions of many BI and Business Managers, CIOs and CFOs. This is why we have been conducting thorough research into the effect of BI and performance management within the Dutch business community and the public sector since 2004. Our goal was to identify the critical success factors for BI. We now have them in front of us! So let us learn from them. Do not try to ignore or deny the facts, but try to understand them. This is precisely what creates the possibility of making BI more frequently successful, as in the case of Ahold, winner of the last BI Awards.
Mobile Business Intelligence has taken off. Market research agencies estimate that in 2015 one third of the Business Intelligence functionality is accessed on mobile devices. Our own research shows that more than half of Business Intelligence suppliers offer an app on a smartphone or tablet.
Ample attention is given to the mobile functionality of Business Intelligence tools in the new edition of the Business Intelligence Tools Survey. No less than 24 new questions have been added in the field of mobile Business Intelligence to this survey, which is completely independent of the suppliers.
When people talk about agile business intelligence, then they are often talking about the software development framework Scrum: the project management perspective. Or is it about the idea that BI can make the business more agile: the business perspective. There is still little attention given to making the BI process itself more agile, faster and cheaper. Nowadays this is quite simple. Then you need to keep out the traditional builders of report factories and dashboard collections (for now), because they often have little interest in minimising reports and dashboards. Business Intelligence frameworks can help you here.
Nico de Jonge is a Business Consultant at ABN AMRO Lease. At the end of 2013, he attended the two-day Passionned Business Intelligence training course. “In my job I have to work with financial data a lot,” he says. “I wanted to know for myself what is currently happening in the world of Business Intelligence and what is for sale. I was looking for some theoretical basis, but with a practical approach. Moreover, attending a two-day training course offers the opportunity to exchange ideas with colleagues from other companies.”
Much has been spoken and written about cloud computing, as well as about Business Intelligence (BI). You can expect a specialized BI research company and consultancy to follow developments closely and to share clear and stimulating views on various topics with you. In this way, we can help you to separate the wheat from the chaff and to make a good choice. In this article, we look at the ‘BI in the cloud’ phenomenon.
Last year TIAS, a separate division for executive teaching of Tilburg University, started an executive programme for IT Consulting. Of the 10 modules, one is dedicated to Business Intelligence. Prof. Piet Ribbers asked Passionned to take on the lion’s share of the BI sessions. “A wonderful challenge and a great honor” according to Daan van Beek.
TIAS offers a number of programmes that are IT-related. The students are typically in their thirties with about 5 years of work experience who want to gain an extra MSc degree or another diploma valued in practice. The IT Consulting programme is aimed at those who want to become proficient in this area. The programme was created in addition to the existing IT Auditing programme. There is a joint intake for IT Auditing and IT Consulting, after about a year both groups split.
Many organizations are increasing their focus on the key performance indicator (KPI). That’s not surprising, because it’s a very powerful management tool and KPIs are at the heart of every business, including yours. The trick is defining the right ones.
However, KPIs and SMART goals are very specific. It’s easy to focus on the wrong indicators. Or to define so many (not) Key Performance Indicators that you can’t see the forest for the trees anymore. We’ve listed the 5 biggest KPI blunders for you, so that you can avoid them in the future.
Data discovery solution supplier Qlik has introduced a new and free product: the Qlik Sense Desktop. Qlik Sense Desktop is said to be a simple drag and drop interface for next-generation data visualization on a Windows client.
This release is the first part of their QlikView.Next project the company has made available. It is meant to deliver on Qlik’s promise for self-service BI.
Integrated in the software is Qlik’s data indexing engine which helps users to find hidden relationships in their data. Storytelling capabilities are also present. There is no limit to the number of apps that can be created with the Sense Desktop. Novice users are accommodated, they can get started with using business intelligence by for example dragging an Excel document into the application. Other data sources are supported as well.
The power and scale of the cloud are used by more and more businesses for faster access to new functionality, reducing capital IT costs and improvement of the use of existing resources. SAS has therefore deployed its analytics into the cloud with the use of Amazon Web Services. This provides extra agility to users of for example SAS Visual Analytics. Big data and Hadoop initiatives can make a critical step forward with the advanced analytic capabilities SAS in the cloud offers.
Global provider of business computing solutions Arrow Enterprise Computing has partnered up with business intelligence and analytics supplier Information Builders. The company will be distributing Informations Builders’ WebFOCUS Express. This solution makes BI benefits available to smaller organizations as users can transform data into knowledge without the need for specific IT skills.
Arrow thinks adding WebFOCUS to its portfolio is key to expanding their Analytics Solution Practice. The company will be distributing two versions of WebFOCUS Express to its solution provider network: a software-only version (for IBM power systems running Linux) and an Intel version (running both Windows and Linux). Arrow will also be manufacturing and distributing an IBM Power Systems Linux Appliance version of WebFOCUS in both North America and EMEA.
Conducting location analytics on the fly, that’s what Yellowfin 7.1 is all about. The latest version of this BI platform will be available at the end of August. Glen Rabie, CEO of Yellowfin, says about this product: “World-class location analytics has never been simpler.”
Yellowfin thinks it is vitally important for organizations to be able to easily map this information, in their opinion the difficulty of obtaining contextual location-sensitive information, map layers, geometry and GIS data has held many organizations back. Merging location-based and traditional Business Intelligence information will provide context to business data.
Databases, spreadsheets, the internet, there is an overwhelming amount of data available. A new way of harnessing this data and unearthing the insights that inform decisions, has arrived with the release of analytics-application Tableau 8.2. It introduces a feature called Story Points which enables ‘data storytelling’.
Tableau was already meant for quick analysis, visualisations of data and sharing information, but these Story Points allow users to create interactive, data-driven stories that they can share with the world if so desired. The Story Points help to add more context, flow and guidance so organizations can tell a better structured story with their data.
Enterprise software platform specialist MicroStrategy reclassified its products, which lead to a simplified productline. The number of products was downgraded from 21 to only 4 value-based pricing products for developers, analysts, power users and consumers.
Existing customers will get free updates to the new premium products. These new, cheaper products should, according to MicroStrategy, make it easier for customers to choose the brand for all their needs in the area of business analytics and mobile applications. It’s meant to enhance the customer experience.
Financial firms struggle with the legacy of their separate siloed risk systems. A recent survey funded by BI vendor SAS shows that 81% of the respondents experiences the technical hurdle of data inconsistencies. The difficulties of separate risk systems and inflexible sources were pinpointed by more half of them.
The survey questioned 27 global financial institutions about the principles of BCBS 239: Basel Committee’s Principles for Effective Risk Data Aggregation and Risk Reporting that aims to increase transparency and reduce operational risks. Banks that adhere to these principles can improve future stress testing and anticipate future problems.