BI enables business users to query, report and apply advanced analytics; though it is known fact that each of the above have their own limitations and often it is difficult to uncover information on cause and the impact of business problems and the corrective actions that could be taken. In this scenario, very often multiple users working collaboratively can fill in data gaps, raise new considerations and make collective judgments and decisions.
Collaborative BI, as it exists presently is designed around the premise that facilitates business users to collect, share the information necessary and contribute to discussion from anywhere and anytime for their everyday decision-making, while at the same time preventing duplicate work and allowing colleagues to draw on each other’s strengths.
According to BI industry thought leader, Wayne Eckerson, Collaborative BI is now moving from a niche-nice-to-have capability, to an industry-defining component of leading BI solutions: “Most people don’t make decisions in vacuum; they share ideas, options, and perspectives with others. Nor do they analyze data in vacuum, at least anomalies or variances that require further attention. When people exchange ideas on a topic, they refine each other’s knowledge, fill in the gaps, and challenge assumptions. The result is a more comprehensive understanding of a situation and a better course of action.”Collaborative BI provides three primary capabilities:
- Cooperative interaction Business managers and users feel comfortable to interact with one another to improve communication as part of BI initiatives. They will be able to share BI findings and discuss their meaning and possible options for improving business performance. Ease of discovery and documentation of ensuing discussions are key features of collaborative BI.
- Enriching information with knowledge Users also will be able to add their own knowledge to BI results. Through collaborative processes, users can share information about why events are unfolding the way they are to provide a business context to findings, and they can point to related data and content. Published BI results can be enhanced through feedback mechanisms such as by providing a social media-style forum within the BI tool itself, for the discussion and dissemination of ideas surrounding reporting and analytics, create a knowledge-sharing network that improves the reach of information and analysis throughout an organization and across departmental lines.
- Collectively decide the best course of action The ultimate goal of any BI program is to make timely and better business decisions. A collaborative BI environment supports team efforts to assess situations and make informed decisions. It also enables organizations to track decisions and analyze their validity and business impact. Such analyses provides feedback that could help improve the decision making process, allowing companies to document best practices and monitor the types of information that provide useful input for decision making.
Organizations need to spend time and think through and identify the types of employees who will be using a system like this, their needs, and what features they will use(It is important to determine who requires what), then the true power of a collaborative BI system will be realized. For many organizations the collective BI journey is just beginning. But if implemented properly, the end result will significantly benefit an organization’s decision-making abilities.