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Business intelligence means putting the right data in the right people’s hands

by Dave Hannon

September 15, 2010

By Dave Hannon

If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times: What gets measured gets improved. I know, I’m preaching to the data-driven choir here, but every time I boil down the concept of business intelligence far enough, that’s what I come back to.

Admittedly, the first time I heard that phrase, it sounded like a marketing slogan and it might have been at the time. But through my work as an editor, I’ve seen first-hand how business intelligence really can change the way companies do business. And the key to “What gets measured gets improved” is getting the right data into the right peoples’ hands at the right time.

I’ve talked to a major CPG company whose CEO pushed his IT organization to implement real-time customizable dashboards to spread business intelligence across (and up and down) a truly massive enterprise. I met a supply chain VP at a medical device maker who printed out the previous day's vital manufacturing metrics every morning and posted them on the bulletin board in his firm’s manufacturing area. And even in my own field, I’ve seen editors who admittedly didn’t know the first thing about business intelligence get trained on a web analytics program to more closely monitor and improve web traffic.

And no matter what industry they’re in, old data is not much help. Last quarter’s numbers are important, but they’re not necessarily going to hel p you make inventory adjustments in preparation for next week’s marketing promotion. You need today’s data today. In fact, if you can get tomorrow’s data, even better.

So my initial reaction to SAP’s announcement yesterday that it is rolling out industry-specific BusinessObjects analytics solutions is that it really seems like the next step in that process of delivering the right data to the right people. And, in my opinion, perhaps the most important line in that announcement was this: “SAP has worked hand-in-hand with customers to address real-world business problems.” Sure, SAP is a leader in the software space, but the best people to decide what metrics matter to, say, the telecom sector are telecom companies. It’s the “baked-in best practices” you hear about sometimes during demos and presentations in action.

And along those same lines, I realize what I think about their announcement is one thing, but what SAP users think is even more important. So as always, I welcome your feedback. Post a comment here or better yet, post your own blog here and tell us what you think directly.

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