You Don't Need Honking Business Intelligence Tools

This is the continuation of a transcript of a presentation by Stu Worman from Indiana University at an IT conference for unversity IT professionals.

But we know that it is only measured once a year. We measure it through a user survey that we take, and we take some data that we have. So what does this really have to do with the dashboard and business intelligence? Well first of all, there’s a whole lot of stuff going on out there at Indiana University, and it’s hard to know if anything is changing. With so many locations, so many people and a very large organization.

So, has this ever happened to you? A vice president has a question. Vice president contacts associate vice president and asks the question. The associate vice president contacts the director and asks the question. The director contacts the manager and asks the question.

The manager gets some staff member to write a report. The staff member stays all night to get that data. The staff member contacts the manager. The manager contacts the director. The director contacts the AVP. The AVP contacts the VP. The Vice president forgot why they wanted to know.

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What I decided about three years ago is, I really need to know what is going on in my organization today without having to get somebody to go mine the data. I need to know at my finger tips what is going on. I need to know what is changing. I need to know what is out there. We have all this data. It’s not like they have to go make it up. It’s just finding it and then probably calculating it and reporting it. And guess what? Computers do that really, really well.

What are we really talking about? When we talk about business intelligence and making decisions, we sometimes think of business intelligence tools as honking – I think in Texas I can use a word like “honking,” don’t you? Honking expensive complicated applications. The big things that help us get answers.

But really what we need is agile, easy to use software such as InetSoft's. We needed a way to make decisions quickly based on facts that I knew. It doesn’t have to be those big honking expensive applications.

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You might have the data in all different places, as we do. We had it in our call tracking systems. We have it in systems management. We have it in ACD systems. Telephone systems, all kinds of places. So we know it’s all there. But we need to collect it and mash it up like you can do very powerfully with InetSoft's software.

The point is you want to be able to understand when something is changing. That is really what a dashboard is for. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And you need to make sure that it really is changing and not just a little blip on the radar.

If any of you had a manufacturing experience, you might recognize this from statistical process control in manufacturing that was popular 15 or 20 years ago. To try to measure, to see when things are changing, you really take data points every 5 pieces of manufacturing.

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