We see information technology as an enabler of human potential. Data based decision-making is only valuable to the extent that good data exists in convenient forms and employees have the tools to consume it. Well designed analytical systems will not only help to effectively and efficiently answer questions about your business, but will stimulate better questions to ask. They will also increase productivity.
In order to maximize value over the long-term, we believe that it is vital that each information worker, and that is most workers in today’s organizations, be able to employ information systems to the extent they are able. This argues for a decentralized approach to analytics and other BI tools, given that overall systems security and administration are in place and maintained centrally.
Well-designed reporting and analytical systems should be maintenance-free, or close to it. This means extra care and creativity in their design and deployment, as well as excellence in documentation. Businesses should not have to depend on their BI partners to perform ad-hoc, month-end or first-of-year maintenance to restore the functioning of their solutions. And for the little maintenance that may still be required, a non-expert user should be able to know how, or easily locate the instructions and follow them with success.
Design to meet the challenge at hand, but minimize the opportunity cost of parochial solutions that can’t be applied to other situations. Some partners may be unwilling to take the time (and potential risk to budget) of understanding the opportunities to lever solutions, especially if they are not in the scope of the current project. The result over the long-term is a hodgepodge of isolated solutions and duplication of design effort and maintenance. A partner must be able understand business processes that are related and therefore candidates for application of the design solution.
This threat to your business information is real and generally underestimated. We will protect it as though it were our own, and usually better than companies protect it themselves. We will use complex passwords, unique to a client. Our wireless networks will use encryption and only be accessible to previously authorized devices. We will not email files with proprietary data, unless they are encrypted.
This is the missing component of most solutions and the cost of sub-optimal T&D is often unrecognized. This should not be an after-thought, but rather a fundamental consideration of the total cost of ownership. Unfortunately, this is the part of the solution that many partners dislike doing, or are inexpert even if willing. A system should exist to train people to the level at which they would derive optimal value, whether they be report consumers, power users, anaytics designers or other. Documentation should be well-governed and easily located from the point of use.
It is critical to understand the true business need, which is not always best met with the preconceived deliverable. Often the end user is not aware of the potential technology that would result in the best solution. Much time and effort are often wasted by directly following the planning with a roll-out of the final product. The best outcome is often obtained through rapid and iterative prototyping. This results in a better marriage between the true business need and the technology.