Collaborative Business Intelligence: Three steps to success

Organizations and people within them collaborate. They always have; and they always will. In the digital age, the core question is not how people collaborate, but how technology and its surrounding culture can facilitate and optimize this existing process.

Veteran researchers Claudia Imhoff and Colin Whilte, in their recent research report Self Service Business Intelligence: Empowering Users to Generate Insight, identified “collaborators” as a new type of information worker within the context of self-service Business Intelligence (BI).

We’re all aware that effectively sharing and discussing up-to-date data is the key to actioning knowledge gained via BI. But what are the integral business practices/philosophies, and technical factors, that constitute and facilitate the emerging phenomenon of Collaborative BI? Well, there’s a plethora (and many competing views) of both. But here are three:

  • Monitor, but do not restrict, collaboration: BI administrators and IT professionals should monitor the collaborative framework of their BI tool, but not in an overbearing way. The collaborative decision-making (CDM) module within a BI solution should encourage and foster discussion, ensuring appropriate decision-makers can easily contribute to, and are kept abreast of, BI-related conversations as they emerge and develop. A CDM module should never control, but merely facilitate, conversation.

  • Collaborative Business Intelligence has to be integratable and embeddable with other tools and platforms: The whole point of collaboration, and therefore Collaborative BI, so to enable people to share and collectively discuss information in order to reach a desired outcome. To achieve this, anyone must be able to view information and contribute to related conversation from wherever they are, on whatever platform is most convenient for them. The ability to analyze BI content within a BI application and embed BI into shared spaces outside the BI application – blogs, wikis, etc – is what facilitates true collaboration around reporting and analytics. Content syndication is key.

  • End-users should select the technology: Business-users are the people who will ultimately utilize BI, and its collaborative features, to make fact-based decisions. Logically then, business-users should have the last say in the BI purchase decision. The success of a BI project rests on the ability to achieve widespread end-user adoption and engagement. People will use and collaborate with/around technology that they find intuitive and efficient.

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