by Jayne Landry, Global VP & GM Business Intelligence, SAP

Smiling businesswoman leading meeting in conference roomI was in Miami recently for the SAP Americas Partner Summit. The hotel we were in allowed four wireless connections per room  – there I was, all by myself, AND using three connections, one for the phone, one for the laptop and one for my iPad. In that moment, I realized that if my husband and my kids had also been staying with me, we would have had serious problem fighting over who would get internet access!

Over the last few years, our expectations around access to information have dramatically changed. We expect to have access to the information we want – where and when we want it. Given this, it’s not surprising that we want the same level of access to information we enjoy outside of the office to also be available to us in our day jobs. This is leading to an increase of interest from business users in business intelligence and an increase of  interest from IT in helping business users to understand what’s possible. But how do you bring business users and IT together to have that conversation?

Over the last 12 months, I’ve been fortunate to engage in conversations with several hundred customers on this topic. Here’s some of the best practices that have come out of those discussions with customers who are already seeing dramatic returns from their BI investments:

  1. Translate what you see into your world: Find a starting point for the conversation with examples that are relevant to your industry or to your line of business (LoB), and translate what you see and learn from others into  your world.
  2. Take a “petri dish” approach: Start small with a specific use case, solve that specific problem, and create business value for the organization.
  3. Establish a BI competency centre: And bring IT and line of business users together right from the get go, and on an ongoing basis.
  4. Understand the end customer: Often the conversation between IT and the LoB stops there. But understanding the full value chain, including who the LoB user is serving often leads to the most transformational results.
  5. Culture eats technology for lunch: managing the cultural change is as important as implementing the technology. And it often starts with executive leadership leading the way…. when the CFO, COO and CEO are using BI to run the business the organization follows.

As we were planning for SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (BI) 4.1, we spent a lot of time talking to and thinking about the user personas we serve and how we best meet  their needs. We considered the developer who is looking for a faster way to deliver an analytic application or embed analytics into an existing business process, the analyst who’s often doing a lot of the data manipulation and heavy lifting to answer a specific business question, and the end user who’s ultimately consuming the information and making a decision.

And, perhaps more importantly, we also worked to understand the interactions and work flows between these users. We have a lot more work to do in this area, but you can start to see where we’re going in the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 release:

  • For developers, there are new SDKs for UNV universes and mobile BI so that you can extend what we deliver and customize the end user experience.
  • For analysts, the heavy lifting can be done in tools like SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP and SAP Lumira and then, with a couple of clicks, the results of that analysis can be shared simply as an SAP Crystal Report or SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence document or published to SAP BusinessObjects Mobile to support the needs of a broader end user community.
  • For end users, there’s a single mobile client that can surface any BI content with online and offline capabilities so the information needed is always available.
  • Furthermore, we’re encouraging our partners to extend the experience too, by showing what’s possible with use cases by industry and LoB that provide the starting point for the conversation.

For me, business intelligence is a journey and not a destination, with an ultimate goal of generating collective insight, where every individual can  contribute to the collective knowledge of the organization, and every individual can benefit from that collective wisdom. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and continuing the discussion…


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