Business intelligence (BI) software is grounded in the idea that information can change the world. By abstracting the way we explore data, BI makes it easier to identify patterns, draw insight and develop meaningful conclusions. Simply put, BI promises to help us make better, more informed decisions.
Traditionally, BI software has favoured a top down approach. The average business generates enormous amounts of information every day, and the complexity of BI solutions require clear and concise parameters in order to make sense of this stream of information. Pre-defined queries are created, illuminating certain aspects of business data. More often than not, this creates reports and dashboards that give users reliable insight into business operations, albeit along fixed dill paths and static queries.
In practice, this approach is less than ideal.
Complex solutions are less agile, requiring more time to process and implement requested changes. These "incomplete" queries means less accurate analysis, as valuable insight can be delayed, or even overlooked. A good BI solution therefore needs to temper its complex functions with simplicity and flexibility, making it easier to mine and manipulate the underlying data.
Data alone is not enough
However, data alone does not equate to good decisions. People form a big part of the puzzle, contributing their opinions, ideas and experiences. A vast array of collaboration tools exist to help create context around data and drive better decision-making, but it is the actual uptake of these tools and how 'social' they become that makes the difference.
Finally, the way users approach information has changed significantly since the term "business intelligence" was coined some 50 years ago. The popularity of the Internet and mobile devices has influenced the way we digest and interact with information. We want data delivered to us in a way that is familiar. We want it when we want it, however we want it.
What is needed is more intelligent business intelligence, and that is the promise of business discovery.
Business discovery is user-driven business intelligence, founded on the belief that insight can be discovered at anytime, anywhere, by anyone. It is a self-service approach - business intelligence from the ground up - helping users ask and answer their own questions, creating and sharing knowledge and analysis in functional groups throughout the organisation.
Business discovery platforms have obvious advantages in the enterprise, fully investing employees and empowering better decision-making at the functional level.
Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH), a world-class teaching hospital in the UK, faces the challenge of improving the hospital's quality and efficiency. CUH gave doctors, nurses and managers access to the same data to analyse and monitor costs, financial information, patient satisfaction, staff and human resources, and activity versus capacity. Chief executive, Dr. Gareth Goodier, says: "Clinicians now own the data and can see everything that is available to management and therefore decisions on changes, improvements or even planned cuts no longer have to be subject to a 'top slicing' approach. We can accurately target efficiencies where they will have minimal impact on patient outcomes."
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