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Collaborative Business Intelligence boosts productivity: Aberdeen
14 Sep, 2011 - Lachlan James

The Aberdeen Group’s most recent report on Collaborative Business Intelligence (BI) – Collaborative BI: Harnessing the Extended Enterprise to Boost Productivity – claims Collaborative BI deployments have the ability to improve productivity and visibility across the breadth of organizational operations via enhanced knowledge sharing.


Definition of Collaborative Business Intelligence

The report defines Collaborative BI as “the merging of Business Intelligence (BI) and analytical capability, with the tools and methods used by organizations to collaborate, share knowledge, and swap perspective on the analysis of business information.”

This definition fits comfortably with Yellowfin’s interpretation of the term: “Social and Collaborative Business Intelligence (BI), a type of collaborative decision-making (CDM) software, harnesses the functions and philosophies of social networking and Web 2.0 technologies, applying them to reporting and analytics at the enterprise level to facilitate better and faster fact-based decision-making.”

The research report divides respondent organizations into three categories based on the maturity of their Collaborative BI rollouts:
  • Best-in-Class (Top 20% of aggregate performance scorers)
  • Industry Average (Middle 50% of aggregate performance scorers)
  • Laggard (Bottom 30% of aggregate performance scorers)
The Best-in-Class are distinguished from Industry Average and Laggard companies, regarding their use of Collaborative BI, by four main performance criteria:
  • Cross-functional collaboration (Percentage of survey respondents who report “improved” or “substantially improved” rates of information sharing with other business departments over the previous two years)
  • External collaboration (Percentage of survey respondents who report sharing information with business partners external to the organization – suppliers, customers, etc)
  • Employee retention (Over previous 12 months)
  • Customer retention rates (Over previous 12 months)

Business drivers for Collaborative Business Intelligence

The report identifies three underpinning factors that are driving demand for Collaborative BI within the enterprise:
  1. The increased demand for real-time information, in conjunction with the rapid expansion of corporate data assets, means that organizations are searching for faster methods to share and derive actionable meaning from reporting and analytics
  2. Increasingly dispersed workforces have heightened the need for, and benefit of, fast information sharing and collaborative decision-making
  3. The need to provide context to actionable information to underpin accurate fact-based decision-making

Characteristics of Best-in-Class organizations

The Aberdeen report explains that the more people participating within a collaborative framework, including those designed for the sharing of BI content, the more value will be derived from that collaborative environment: “The more business perspective(s) (that) are represented the more each participant stands to benefit”. Aberdeen said that Best-in-Class organizations not only shared more information with more departments, but also incorporated a more diverse cross section of departments, including external stakeholders.

The report considers the sharing of business knowledge with external stakeholders as the most mature stage of an organizations’ Collaborative BI framework, revealing that only 22% of Best-in-Class organizations conducted no external BI Collaboration, compared to 36% of Industry Average companies, and 69% of Laggards.


Benefits of Collaborative Business Intelligence implementations

The report identified several significant benefits of Collaborative BI, including:
  • Improved customer responsiveness (73% of Best-in-Class organizations said that Collaborative BI had “improved” or “substantially improved” customer responsiveness over the previous 12 months, compared with 64% for the Industry Average and 42% for Laggards)
  • Improved business process cycle times (71% of Best-in-Class organizations reported a “substantially improved” or “improved” timeframe to complete key business processes, compared to 55% of Industry Average organizations and 37% of Laggard companies)
  • Improved cross-functional collaboration (80% of Best-in-Class companies have “improved” or “substantially improved” cross-functional collaboration over the two years post-implementation, compared to 63% of Industry Average organizations and 38% for Laggards)
  • Improved external stakeholder collaboration (78% of respondents from Best-in-Class organizations report using their company’s Collaborative BI capabilities to share information and ideas with at least one external stakeholder, compared to 64% of respondents from Industry Average organizations, and just 31% of survey participants from Laggards)
  • Improved employee retention rates (Best-in-Class organizations report an impressive 95% employee retention rate over the previous year, with companies classified within the Industry Average bracket reporting an 88% retention rate, and 81% for Laggards)
  • Improved customer retention rates (Best-in-Class organizations experienced a 97% employee retention rate over the previous 12 months, compared to 91% for Industry Average companies, and 69% for Laggards)

Where to next? Collaborative and pervasive Business Intelligence linked

The report concludes by suggesting that the more mature an organizations’ Collaborative BI framework, the greater the level of enterprise visibility that can be achieved. It also suggests that successful collaborative decision-making environments are inextricably linked to widespread, cross-departmental user adoption.

To generate a more mature collaborative decision-making structure, regarding BI content, the report recommends that organizations:
  • Empower business users to access, interact with, and share BI content independently of IT
  • Share BI content with external stakeholders to boost visibility of operations throughout the entire supply chain
  • Integrate social-networking style features and functionality within their BI tool (or implement a BI solution that contains collaborative functionality out-of-the-box)
  • Monitor user-adoption rates
The 12 page Aberdeen Group report – Collaborative BI: Harnessing the Extended Enterprise to Boost Productivity – can be downloaded here.

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