Sorry to be the one who breaks it to you but you know that new office you’ve just paid a fortune for, all that new IT infrastructure, all those new staff you’ve just hired? Your customer doesn’t care about them in the slightest, not at all. The fact is that all they really want is for you to get the job done.
Now it might sound a gross oversimplification to say so, and maybe also a little mean too. But if you pause to think about any business that serves you, or even any internal department that services your own, can you honestly say that how they go about their work is more important to you than their final result?
When ‘good enough’ is good enough
The top priority for business people is getting the job done effectively and efficiently – that’s the conclusion of Boris Evelson, Forrester Research’s expert in Business Intelligence (BI). After looking at how organisations work, specifically how they make the most of their data, he found that what seems best on paper might not always be the best in practice. For example, many people still rely on spreadsheets even though they have obvious disadvantages because of their convenience, shareability and versatility, which are all well worth overlooking their clunkiness.
“Very often,” he added in a recent webinar, “business users tell us that ‘good enough data’ that’s timely trumps single version of the truth data that only comes in after a week of batch processing and cleansing. Because by the time you finish that batch cycle, your potential customers may be long gone.”
In other words, customers don’t care about the processes, only the results. But you already know this – you think exactly the same thing.
Use data, don’t just collect it
The implications of this simple insight are wide-ranging. Since we live in a data-driven age, it’s easy to obsess about capturing more and more information in order to better serve customers who, if dissatisfied, can find an alternative supplier with just a click of a mouse or a tap on a smartphone screen. Yet most businesses report that less than 50% of their structured data is being used for insights, the rest just sitting in the system as dead weight. It would appear that in the rush to embrace big data, analytics and a digitally-transformed future that many are losing track on the prime goal – getting the job done.
Making BI work for you
Business Intelligence can put you back on track by focusing in on what’s truly important to a business or organisation. Agile BI accepts that, even in an age of deployed data warehouses, multiple BI tools and numerous platforms, many will simply continue to use spreadsheets. It looks for real-world ways of moving forwards and leveraging more than 25% of structured data for valid, timely business insights. Agile BI isn’t just about software development, it’s about moving organisations towards flexible, reactive working practices that help them treat their customers better.
Every enterprise has multiple BI platforms for the simple reason that no real-world organisation has ever been successful in consolidating to a single one. Everyone has to deal with legacy tools, just as everyone has at least department who do things in a certain way because “that’s what we’ve always done.” So let’s just accept this state of things and move on.
When the goal is getting the job done, avoiding complex IT structures and preventing data from languishing in silos are just stop-off points to that destination. As Boris said in the webinar:
“Nobody can afford to wait for months to document something or to make a change in a compliant process.”
Tools that speed things up through automation are tools that, ultimately, will help to get the job done.
According to Forrester Research, 45% of businesses report double-digit return on their BI investments, typically in under two years. Forrester also notes that companies that spend more than a third of their IT budget on BI report faster overall growth than those that don’t.
We’d argue that they achieve this by using BI to get the job done. Next time out, we’ll be expanding on this theme by looking at how you can stay in control, regardless of the situation.