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Archive for the ‘Professional Skill and Competency’ Category

Peter Thomas has written a terrific post about “Measuring the benefits of Business Intelligence”. I encourage you to go see this quickly and then return before continuing on with the rest of this post.

Good, now that you have read this, I’m beginning to think we should all take a deep breath and maybe begin to frame up or organize discussions like this around themes our business partners understand – e.g. translating our findings for example across the five (and only five) essentials in business that matter; cash flow, profitability, velocity, growth, and customer intimacy.  This theme can be extended to the non-profit or government world by simply substituting the word outcome for profitability.  I guess what I’m driving at is a way to simplify our thinking and share what we are really doing in terms (lexicon) most of our customers and management can understand.  An additional perspective can be introduced here as well by using business intelligence to answer the important and urgent questions. For example I would want to know:

Are we doing the right things?

  • Uncover where the significant dollars are;  Are they really in layoffs or outsourcing?
  • Manage operational costs so that are directly tied to volume;   You should only pay for what you are using, right?

Are we realizing the benefits?

  • Why “financial re-engineering” may be the worst thing you can trust in for use in your decisions
  • Discover and measure the real value of producing profitable, sustained business

Are we doing them the right way?

  • Uncover the power of cycle compression and really do more with less
  • How to produce higher quality products and services in our work products
  • Why shared information is more accurate, timely, complete, and less expensive

Are we getting them done well?

  • How to drive costs (not merely shift them) from the business
  • Why your most valuable resources may not be focused on the highest value opportunities

expensivewatchNot sure I can even begin to answer questions like this without a good clean source of reliable data I can use in a business intelligence application. Of course, I can always guess or do what many of my potential customers will do – go with their gut feel (many of them are usually right, much like the broken watch that is correct twice a day <g>).

For more on this see an early post Where is Enterprise Architecture when we really need it and The business case for Enterprise Architecture.  Both of these posts are a little off- topic (not strictly Business Intelligence), but I believe this will provide you an little insight into what my EA peers are struggling with now – essentially the same issue in a different but related discipline.

Please let me know what your thoughts are, hoping this is beginning to shape up into a more useful organizing principal we can all share to communicate better with out business partners.

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Have to compliment Zillow (http://www.zillow.com/) on a terrific job and example we can all learn from with their Zillow Real Estate Market Reports for US Home – Values Fourth Quarter: October-December 2008. Visually appealing, intuitive, and just the right amount of graphical interest I believe this represents a truly useful example of an effective analytic application. Combining the geography and value trends in an interactive “heat map” like this is, well brilliant. Data values can accessed for the nation and 161 MSAs by clicking on the Excel icon, or clicking a graph for a collection of maps suitable for printing. Even the Excel download includes more than just data – a glossary of metadata defining the columns with active links to each tab.  Well done, exceptional value, this is a terrific example of effectively conveying a wealth of information (not just data) in a way that is immediately useful.

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Welcome to the Essential Analytics. Will try to keep this as entertaining as possible and encourage all to contribute and share their personal and professional experiences here. This eclectic collection of posts will in many ways reflect the wide variety of issues will all encounter in our daily professional lives.

I’m pretty passionate about this and feel I know a little bit about what works and what will not from bitter experience and the help of a lot of smart people (smarter than I am) I have learned from over the years. Not a really a legend in my own mind, I just feel it is the right time to share my experience in this space with others.  In my career I have led or participated in a leadership position in building:

  • Seven (7) large scale (over 1TB) data warehouses designed, built, and deployed in the Financial Services, Transportation, Supply Chain, Retail, Utility, and Professional Services industries
  • Over twenty (20) data marts (special purpose subject areas) designed, built, and deployed in the Financial Services, Transportation, Supply Chain, Distribution, and Utility (Power) industries
  • Eight data warehouse executive assessments prepared and delivered for management review and action. In addition, five (5) detailed business cases prepared to support the investment in the analytic environment.

Impressive? Yes, maybe. Experience? You bet, if there is a mistake to be made or a “bonehead” decision I can tell you I have probably made them all. Which is why I think it is important to share this experience with all who want  to take advantage of this knowledge. My sincere intent is to forward claims and assertions made in this blog to reflect generally accepted time proven best practice principals that have demonstrated value we can all share.   Hopefully you will find the topics that represent this experience worthwhile to you.  

Thank you for your interest, hope this will meet your expectations and you will become a regular reader and contributor.

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