What we see in practice is that successful organizations do not normally develop the sensors, processors and effectors simultaneously but often progress in a logical sequence. In most cases, attention is given first to developing and improving sensitivity, for example by defining relevant KPIs. The actual development and usage of processors and effectors follows later. These organizations realize that wanting everything at once, is the same as wanting and ending up with nothing. The three stages and the four ambition levels of Business Intelligence are closely related. This is depicted in the following figure.
Figure: The road to adaptability goes through sensitivity
Create sensitivity with the right KPIs
Developing sensors (such as KPIs) in order to create sensitivity is often the best start. Without sensitivity, good agility is impossible and conversely, sensitivity is not effective when an organization does not adapt quickly enough. When an organization focuses on the wrong signals and is unable to process these signals properly, agility will be ineffective because the focus is on the wrong things. The actual development of processors usually takes place at a later stage.
Reports are often not updated frequently enough
Research among 390 organizations proves this: many organizations are doing well in the area of observation, but have some catching up to do in the fields of capacity and integration (Passionned Group, 2014). Reports, for example, are often not updated frequently enough or there are too many. Other examples are: lack of a data warehouse, working with different spreadsheets or not structurally sharing information with business partners.
The number of connections in the brain
It is not about technological integration, or, metaphorically speaking, about the number of connections in the brain. Equally important is the existence of a culture and environment in which facts and knowledge serve as a basis for analyzing performance and actions. For example actions such as contacting customers when sales decline sharply, deciding on structural changes within the organization and so on.
Focus on adaptability: “begin with the end in mind”
It is about stimulating the processors in order to make use (as much as possible) of existing and newly introduced connections. This leads to actions that are more adequate and makes policies more effective. The focus however should be on creating adaptability – using knowledge and information in order to innovate and change more rapidly. That is in fact the ultimate aim of Business Intelligence, thus: “Begin with the end in mind” (Covey, 1989).
Don’t get stuck in the middle
Moreover, there are organizations that first focus on enhancing the capacity rather than the sensitivity. These organizations begin with gathering as much data as possible and placing that data in a data warehouse without considering how relevant the information actually is to achieving better results. Don’t get stuck in the middle.
Users still have to process large amounts of inconsistent data
The phenomenon of adaptability is often not even considered during this process. These (often expensive) initiatives generally do more harm than good because users still have to process large amounts of inconsistent data and the accompanying information overload. This results in a so-called Business Intelligence trauma: the initiative, once launched under the guise of Business Intelligence, may result in Business Intelligence being tucked away for years without anyone daring to even mention it, let alone start working with it again – a real pity.