Are BI and analytics solutions delivering real benefits to the highly valued and highly paid assets in your company? For most organizations, the answer is a resounding "no." While the promise of 'actionable information' is common, the result is information overload - placing more demands on management to sort through, decipher and interpret what is relevant for their specific areas of responsibility.

So why, after so many years of technical innovations and advancement, are we not seeing real value delivered to management from BI and analytical tools?

Managers and senior decision makers have clearly stated that their informational needs are not being met. On average, senior management and decision makers in the U.S. indicate they are spending nearly 25% of their work week gathering, deciphering and collating data to get the information they need to do their jobs. This is astounding given the number of BI and analytics providers that have emerged with a focus on delivering 'actionable information.' What is causing this disconnect between management's reality and software companies promises?

Up until now, software companies, including BI providers and analytical tool developers, have focused on automating repetitive tasks. Instead of manually compiling data and creating reports, BI tools have enabled more efficient compilation of the data as well as consistent presentation of the data. This delivered great value to organizations that had previously relied on manual efforts leveraging junior resources to regularly compile data and present it for management's use. Organizations were able to reduce costs and invest in personnel to focus on roles and activities that could not be easily automated or systemized.

So, BI and analytical tools automated repetitive tasks that others in the organization were responsible for. That is a benefit. What does not make sense is why the majority of managers still indicate they do not have the information they need, how and when they need it. Why aren't the needs of managers being met by BI and analytic providers?

It is important to remind ourselves what the roles of management and individual contributors within an organization are. While it seems so basic, these individuals are hired and retained for their expertise, their experience and their important role in contributing to the company's ultimate success. Such individuals are critical to defining the strategic direction of an organization and ensuring the day to day management is aligned with attaining defined objectives. They are highly valued employees and often the most highly paid employees. Therefore, it seems contradictory that the majority of investments in technology over recent decades have not been directed in further enabling these workers' effectiveness. Given their critical roles in a company's future, leading companies are realizing that now is the time; investments in attaining efficiencies have largely been made. While companies have spent millions of dollars over recent decades automating repetitive tasks such as payroll processing, reporting, contact management and analytics, little to no investments have been consistently made to enable managers to be effective in their roles. Sure, we have laden them with cool gadgets so they are always in touch, but our success is mostly measured by inundating them with information that may or may not be relevant to their specific roles and responsibilities in the organization! We have drowned them in data, and starved them for truly actionable information.


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