How do we produce meaning in BI? – full article

How can you reduce the cost of developing meaning? Meaning is relative to the individual.  BI techniques assume everybody is the same (see above).  Most companies offer standardized reports or applications –usually the creation of an IT person – that do not meet the needs of the individual.  We all have different approaches to situations – some good and some bad.  However even with a good approach different people do and act differently.  BI should allow the individual to prepare for each situation from the vast knowledge store inherent in any business.  People don’t need reports.  They need information, knowledge and a way to communicate their approach.  Reports are IT’s approach to producing information – it seems easier to make a report (“show me what you want to see and I will give you a report”.  But we all know that a report just generates questions – Why is this here?  How did this happen”. Without good BI tools to drill down, the natural human instinct to question information is stifled and knowledge not obtained.  BI is critical to making information work.

Need to look at a typical decision

Organizational barriers to prioritizing subject areas and reaching common data definitions.

Organizations are generally power bases.  Whether it be Treasury in a Bank or Revenue Management on an airline, organizational groups often have their own language, hoard information to self-create power and create ‘shadow’ information repositories which may or may not reflect the items of record in a company. The most successful business especially from a customer perspective are those that make information available to all personnel (within reason – eg HR information) because any one person can respond to a customer situation – and more importantly resolve it.  Continental Airlines when it restructured after the second bankruptcy under Gordon Bethune (From Worst to First) was so heavily controlled with rules and regulations, neither customers nor employees could get answers.  Hidden information breeds suspicion and distrust. One of Bethunes’s early moves after the restructuring was to hold a big bonfire and burn all the rules books – then told the front line employees to do what is right to resolve customer challenges – the empowerment made for better employee relations and was the first major airline to actually go out of its way to inform customers of what was happening improving customer relations significantly.  The availability of information AND the empowerment of employees made continental one of the best to fly.  All that effort was on top of a BI environment supporting employees and customers.  Continental – when having multiple aircraft coming in to too few gates brings in the plane with the most valuable customers first – decisions being made constantly to optimize the treatment of good customers.

Effective decision support.

Entropy of information – cost of discarded/hidden information determines the value of the output.

Can we address information management practices? What an oxymoron.  The goal of IT is to house, protect, and make available corporate information to all that have the required authority to see and use.  IT is not the arbitrator of what is right or what is needed.  Front line employees are.  IT should be an enabled but the personalities of IT management tend toward perfection – everything must be exactly correct – which is fine in their role as housers, protectors and deliverers of information but not in deciding how the information is to be used or why.

Do we need a new form of analyst?  A new decision-making model.

I believe that we do not need a new form of analysis.  We need to support the human intellect in dealing with business and informational issues (volume).  We need to get off our proverbial butts in IT and IT management and deliver knowledge making capabilities to all business users.  As we have stated throughout this treatise, we need to surround the human intellect with the best knowledge that computers can derive to enable decisioning.  We can no longer restrict information from people.  We should never write another report not write an application that fixes data into a rigid structure.  We need to forget that storage is costly – it isn’t.  We need to enable the information within a business or organization.  Information about the business is the greatest asset a company has – let’s let it lose.

A major international bank executive recently stated that the information contained in the readily-available information warehouse was greater in value than the dollars in the vault – can’t be said better than that.  But information must be freed for use before it itself can create additional value – it’s time.

How to get beyond our own limits in asking the right question related to business and then to use the answer to optimize decisioning. We have discussed why people may not want the answer to a question – but beyond that, enabling decisioning is good for the business an for all members of the team.  Given that most IT departments are a major cause of limitations through their lack of enabling business knowledge.  But if IT were to make all information available and accessible 0 what ten.  He elf limitations need to be dealt wit.  We need to approach the problem differently.  We need to enable people to push their limits.  Using our technique called MindPlus(SM) enable people to extend their capabilities. MindPlus is about approaching the problem differently.  Then the application of the answer to the new questioning process needs to be different. Our experience has shown that if people follow the 6 basic steps they will not only thing better but also significantly improve and optimize the business.

The steps

1)      What am I trying to do.  Think about the problem.   Your reason for acting needs to be looked at from a holistic perspective.  Don’t allow limitations to refine or define the problem

2)      What do I need to know to do it – look at the problem holistically – what do you need to know. Are there analytical functions required, is the timing appropriate

3)      Is the information available be realistic – but if you don’t have the information to answer the question that it must be acquired.  Else your limitations are rekindled

4)      If it is available, how  will I use it to do what I am trying to do – making a decision is only one part of the challenge.  How will this knowledge be applied

5)      When I actually do it, what value will it bring – at every stage look at the value – if no value – why are you doing it

6)      If it brings value, then what am I going to do different to enhance the value/process/company.  Always look at the value – if it brings value, how will that knowledge transform the decisioning and related results. What will you do differently in the future base don that knowledge,

The approach

You must thing of business decisioning and problem solving as an informational problem, not a process or application challenge.  Data plus more data gives you information.  Information plus intelligence gives you knowledge.  Knowledge plus action gives you transformation.  The fundamental underpinning of MindPlus is to approach things differently – to approach each and every business issue as an opportunity to leverage the corporate data asset.

Adds up to a new role for IT

We have often stated that the role of IT is to be the custodian of the corporate data asset.  IT need to rethink its role from report generation and application creation.  The new role has to be the enabled of decisioning.  Significant IT resources need to be applied to MindPlus steps 3,  4, and 5 and away from non-value generating activities.  The people in IT need to change from questioning the user (Why do you need that) to enabling the user  collaborative acquisition of information or capability to follow the MindPlus steps.

©Trevelyan Group LLC 2019