The municipal organization is under constant pressure. New developments, new responsibilities, and the demand for new perspectives are ever increasing. Consider: The guidelines: oriented on process, information, area, the public, results and performance Manner of working and managing: demand-driven, Information-based, and so forth The call for the expansion of the management function and agility in decision making and implementation.
In 2014, the Rotterdam's community wanted to bring more cohesion to all BI activities. It started with information architecture and the description of a strategy. A pilot project focused on school dropouts, along with Passionned Group, must now show how it works in practice. Communities become increasingly aware of their long-standing policy cycle based on multi-year plans failing to work so well as used to. There is also a growing need to be flexible and to be able to stay in tune based on available current data. Willy Groenewold, senior information management adviser at the CIO office of the municipality of Rotterdam, has therefore introduced the term ‘information-driven working’ at the municipality. “It’s a somewhat more value-free term than business intelligence, chosen in order to break free a bit from the technology and from the ‘that’s-not-for-me’ feeling.”
Companies and organizations that need temporary extra capacity or expertise can go to Passionned Group from the start of 2015 for quality specialists and interim managers who will optimally fit in the organization. The interim managers are among the best in their field and are ingrained in the Passionned DNA: they are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and results-oriented. The interim managers shall ensure that the changes are accepted by the organization, and that they thereby become entrenched.
When following the vertical business driven approach, the mission, strategies and goals of an organization are leading (top-down). This approach is based on the fact that the most elementary information needs and KPIs come to surface – and can actually be defined – when we take a few steps down and ‘descend’ to the operational level of the business processes: the mission of an organization translates into one or more strategies that in turn can be translated into short term and long-term goals (see figure below). A mission statement normally does not change over the years because it describes the primary function and added value of the organization in general terms. The mission does not specify ‘how’ but it answers the question “Why do we exist and for whom?” The strategy specifies how an organization wants to achieve its mission and the goal indicates more specifically, what an organization wishes to achieve. When a certain goal is achieved, an organization can employ other strategies to keep on pursuing its mission. It is thus a cycle of strategy and pursuing goals that maintain the mission: every goal reached becomes a means to setting new goals and achieving a higher level of ambition.
In this article we look into the benefits of Business Intelligence from a more technical perspective. The need for Business Intelligence grows. On the one side this is due to individualization, including smaller households and customized products, and on the other side to the ever increasing world population. Consequently, the market expands, offering organizations opportunities to widen their sales territory and market share without losing sight of specific customer needs. The ultimate marketing goal is thorough customer segmentation, preferably in such a way that each customer represents one segment and that they are approachable as an individual, as a person (Peppers and Rogers, 1996). That is not an easy task in this era of increasing individualization and the ever-expanding population.
Business Intelligence has much in common with a number of other sciences and knowledge areas that, in order for BI / Analytics to reach its full growth, must work together very well (see figure below): This ensures that an organization carries out its (strategic) activities according to a certain plan. Business Intelligence shows organizations whether that plan also works (out) in practice. The feedback that Business Intelligence provides with regard to the business operations may encourage the strategic managers, as you will see in the first chapter of our book 'The Intelligent organization'.
Business Intelligence is not a project or a series of processes that we execute just once. Instead, Business Intelligence is a repetitive cycle of processes. The figure below shows that this cycle consists of three basic processes: the major BI cycle. In turn, the processing process of the major BI cycle is subdivided into a sub cycle of collecting, analyzing and distributing (C-A-D). This is the so-called minor BI cycle.
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.
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.
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.”
How to manage Business Intelligence projects? Business Intelligence projects require a specific project approach – the BI project cycle – because they significantly differ from traditional system development projects on a number of aspects. The BI project cycle starts with awareness: we need to be aware of the nature and character of Business Intelligence. Once this is clear, we start looking for the business cases and we determine the scope. The blueprint of the BI system is created by using the basic principles that govern the BI architecture whilst defining the indicators and dimensions (information analysis) based on which we create a functional design that ultimately leads towards both a balanced architecture and a suitable data model.
Automation is always about people. This is certainly true with regard to ‘automating’ decisions and transforming data into ‘actionable intelligence’. The point is that people will use this information and start acting differently. In order to create a proper (well-designed) Intelligent organization, we will need people in certain roles, with specific (behavioral) competencies, experience and knowledge, first on a project basis and later in the daily operations. In this article, we describe the ideal Business Intelligence project organization. Note that, in practice, we do not always require all roles or we cannot always facilitate all roles, due for example to budgetary constraints.
Business Intelligence projects are characterized by an extremely high risk factor and many obstacles. These obstacles are mostly related to the fact that Business Intelligence projects typically go beyond the boundaries of departments, processes and even business units; contain a mix of strategy, business operations and technology and are often highly political. Also, the BI systems are derived from the operational information systems. The obstacles refer to the ten most common and most important forces and risks that can make or break a Business Intelligence project, which are divided into three main categories:
If we do not predetermine what we test and how we test the Business Intelligence system, then this testing process can be very time consuming. Precisely because Business Intelligence allows flexible reporting, we are initially tempted to test all possible combinations of indicators and dimensions. What we forget is that, even in small Business Intelligence systems with for example ten indicators that are linked to eight dimensions, the number of possible combinations can reach ten million!
It is important to determine whether and how Business Intelligence can be profitable within the organization and in which way we can achieve lasting success. In other words: what is the business case (for BI)? The benefits of Business Intelligence can be split into four categories (Liautaud and Hammond, 2001): immediately apparent; indirectly visible; not immediately apparent; unpredictable.
Does successful Business Intelligence start from the business, the processes and the strategy, or from the information systems and technology that support the business? Should an organization first collect the data (data-driven) or must we first map out our strategy and the associated information needs (business-driven)? The answer to both questions – as it appears in practice – is that we need to combine the approaches: top-down and bottom-up, business-driven and data-driven. However, Business Intelligence must always begin with (or from) the business . It is, after all, called ‘business intelligence’. BI projects that are not managed by the business are unlikely to succeed, simply because on completion the project results will typically not match with the organization’s ‘company language’ and information needs.
This article discusses the required project approach to the competencies and roles needed to merge the Business Intelligence processes, the architecture, the tools, and the applications into a lasting, working entity. Business Intelligence projects differ from ‘traditional’ system development projects in several ways, namely: They often go beyond the boundaries of departments, processes and even business units;
The aim of the collection process in the Business Intelligence cycle is to collect, filter, cleanse, combine, transform and aggregate data from different internal and external sources in order to increase the likelihood of good management information and useful knowledge during the process of analysis. This process is usually supported by a data warehouse, which includes a specific architecture that fits in with both the information needs and the technical infrastructure. The data warehouse must ensure that data is transformed into information and knowledge that encourages action.
The last months the Passionned Group has given several training sessions in New York, Amsterdam and Singapore about Business Intelligence & Analytics. We like to share a few of the testimonials regarding our Business Intelligence training with you. Most of them are very positive and we are truly thankful for that. "Enjoyed the interactiveness of the master class, good level for my understanding, we are just getting started"
An Intelligent organization should keep its eyes open and prick up its ears for data and information. The information it receives should be interpreted, internalized and revised to eventually be distributed across as many processors (people, systems) as possible. However, Business Intelligence does not stop with the distribution of knowledge that encourages actions. Business Intelligence goes beyond that: ultimately, the information must contribute to a range of aspects such as a higher profitability, better products or faster processing times, all depending on the goals and ambitions. What can or must organizations do in order to actually reap the fruits of their investments in Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence is not only about developing a better understanding of the organization; it has wider ambitions: improvement and innovation. Level 1 – understanding: provide insight into what is actually happening in an organization, for example by monitoring the customer response times and the number of complaints received. This gives a better view of how an organization is running and shows how various internal processes are intertwined.