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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

If dashboards are the end game, kill me now...

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The Endgame for Business Intelligence is, according to CRM daily, dashboards. Say it ain't so! The idea that dashboards are the endgame for BI is frankly terrifying. Have you see the typical dashboard? To misquote Shakespeare, "Much color and expense, signifying nothing". Seriously, dashboards may be a step up from greenbar reports but the endgame? I don't think so.
First problem is that dashboards are still backward looking. Surely the endgame for BI must involve some kind of predicting of the future, some looking forward? Even if all the system is going to do is tell someone the predictions, at least the system should do that much work instead of making the user interpret the graphs and dials.
Secondly, who has time to look at all this stuff anyway? Surely what I want is for my business to run better. Sometimes that requires me to look at something, think about it, drill into it and make a decision to change a manual process. More often it requires that one of my systems or processes should start operating differently - take different decisions and act more appropriately based on the data.
Let's do as the author says and "Consider a real-world marketing director in Dallas". Why would I give this person dashboards for some of these things? Why wouldn't my online advertising engine just learn and improve from the click through and conversion data? Why wouldn't my CRM system make customer segmentation and treatment decisions that use the data? Why show dashboards for these things? The marketing director may not look at them, in which case nothing would be done and he/she may not interpret the data correctly even if they do. Indeed the article shows the weakness of its solution in its fourth paragraph when it says "The first behavior of business leaders we need to take into account is a tendency to be busy". Exactly. So why show them a dashboard when we could program the systems to ACT?
Enterprise decision management would use this same data not to display a pretty graph on some marketing directors desktop, but to make the CRM system, the website, the call center and everyone involved in the organization act more intelligently.
Dashboards as the end game? Let's hope not.

4 Comments

Well said. I would consider dashboards or some type of intelligence reporting no longer a differentiator. I would say they are necessary just to keep up. The end game, as I see it today, is Intelligent Business that is forward looking and dynamic as the customers needs change.

Dashboards are certainly not the end game. Just a window to your Business information. I think dashboards for Business are important the same way they are for Cars. In Cars, you don't even get excited with all the meters and dials anymore, you just assume them to be there. Once dashboards for Business becomes ubiquitous, people would get less excited about the fancy charts and graphs.

Nilesh, I beg to differ with you. In a car, a driver is always seated (at least when moving, hopefully) and facing in the same direction as the dashboard. The same is true in cockpits. But business people don't sit and stare at dashboards all day. Different mechanisms are needed to alert them (or their unattended processes). The trouble is, using the car metaphor a little more, our user inferace solutions are so inadequate they dampen the effect of all the good stuff we;ve done with real-time data. Think about this way - with all of the microprocessors and attendant software in cars today, if you had to drive your car with the software on your PC, you wouldn't be able to get out of the driveway.

So I agree with James, as usual, we still have a LOT of work to do.

Great insight, James! Dashboards are good and relevant in some situations, but the goal is to have business rules drive and automate as much decision-making as possible. The rules themselves need to evolve and become sophisticated enough to 'sense' the environment and the context based on raw data feeds - on our way to the Intelligent Enterprise. And what do the managers do? They take the next unstructured problem and put structure to it - in a constantly escalating endeavor to tame the next market, competition or product. Let's not spend time doing things that machines are better at!

James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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