No ROI for Business Intelligence

A post by Yellowfin CEO, Glen Rabie

Recently, I raised this topic at a Business Intelligence (BI) conference, much to the shock of the other participants. Who wants to argue that there’s no Return On Investment (ROI) for BI? I do.

A BI solution can’t provide an ROI by itself

A few years ago, I was chatting to the ex-marketing manager for Cognos (unfortunately we cannot name him – he now works for a competitor) about developing a business case for a BI project. My colleagues point was that a BI solution is just an enabler in an organization. Of itself, it is not capable of delivering ROI. It needs its users to do something. For me, that something was to make a decision.

Without a decision there is no ROI. You can have the best BI solution in the world, but unless your users actually use the solution, and make business decisions as a result of the information provided, there’s no justifiable ROI.

Ease of use

This argument implies two things. Firstly, a BI solution must be easy-to-use to stimulate and encourage end-user adoption.

Users empowered to make decisions

Secondly; your users must be empowered to make decisions based on the information provided to them.

The second point is the interesting one. Traditionally, the decision process occurred independently of the BI solution. This posed a problem – BI solutions did not facilitate the discussion or the decision process. That’s now changing. Social BI is the driver of this change.

Social BI

With Social BI, we bring the discussion and the decision-making into the BI environment. The application facilitates the process of evaluating data and the actions to be taken as a result of that data analysis.

Deciding: The difference between social media and Social BI

Social BI, or enterprise collaboration and knowledge-sharing platforms, borrow many of their components from popular social networking platforms such as Facebook or Slashdot. They allow participation in recorded threads and discussions, as well as the embedding of links and external information. Although, there is one important difference.

Most social media platforms don’t directly support goal-oriented decision-making – there is no function to assist users to make collective decisions. There is no bridge between insight and action.

They are designed around the individual, allowing for individual knowledge sharing and participation. They are not designed for, and do not facilitate, consensus and collaborative decision-making.

The usefulness of networking at the enterprise level rests entirely on the ability to reach appropriate and timely decisions. For Social BI to be successful, it must include a mechanism for deciding action, such as voting or polling, to help push conversation towards a specific, measurable and desirable course of action.

Any BI project must be able to prove and achieve ROI. To realize this goal, users must be able to make meaningful business decisions based on the data analysis generated from their BI tool. That’s exactly what Yellowfin’s Social BI components offer users the ability to do.

About time

At last, a BI solution that can deliver an ROI!

Thanks for trying Yellowfin

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