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Editor's Note: Interested in Master Data Management, then don't forget to attend ebizQ's upcoming roundtable discussion this Tuesday, July 16th on MDM and SOA.

Sometimes thought control isn't such a bad idea. And by thought control, I don't simply mean a "big brother," Apple computer, 1984-type situation, but a situation where people's thoughts are influenced (yes, I guess that's a nicer word) by certain knowledge. Influenced (perhaps educated) so that they have the information to make better decisions and take the best actions at the right time.

The goal of any good business intelligence implementation is to reflect the model of an organization's business and enable employees to use that model to analyze, answer and decide important questions or decisions. As I noted in my last column, BI solutions can be particularly helpful for organizations during turbulent economic times because they can help companies answer questions about their business (what's most profitable? What is the impact of making these product changes? What products or service are our customers buying?), and then help them change to adapt to the new business requirements.

Of course, levering BI takes more than just products -- it requires an environment and organization that will put such a solution to its best use. Consider the following points:

  • BI isn't a one-time thing. One of the important facets of BI is that it can help organizations model the information they have spread throughout their company into something that can help decision makers understand the business better. However, it should also be implemented so that it can change -- not only with the business, but ahead of the business.

  • Putting information in the right users' hands. Traditionally, BI systems were used by upper management and strategic thinkers to monitor and analyze the business. Over the past few years, BI has been adopted by a much wider audience, and solutions have been pushed down into lower levels of the organization. That's certainly a step in the right direction. Making the right decisions requires having the right information, and once an organization has set up a BI system, it can leverage that effort by enabling more knowledge workers to use it.

  • Change requires action. BI by itself isn't change. Good BI solutions enable change by enabling organizations to have the right information to make the right decisions. But decisions must be made and actions must be taken in order for the BI solution to be worthwhile. Some organizations forget this when planning for BI solutions. Thus, it's important to remember that an integral part of your solution is a process for making decisions and taking actions.

  • Custom solutions. Like many IT solutions, the right BI approach depends on an organization, its structure, its business and its needs. For example, a large health insurance payer organization is probably more likely to be fertile ground for a wide-scale BI deployment than a lumber manufacturer. Not that the lumber manufacturer couldn't make use of a good BI system, it's just that the percentage of knowledge workers who could really benefit from interaction with a BI system at that company is probably less than the percentage of workers at a more information-centric business.


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