From the previous article Bungle in the Jungle (Part 1): Well executed Business Intelligent programs calls for agility in the BI jungle. Unwieldy swinging in the BI-jungle leads to a serious Rumble in the BI jungle
Comparing a world-renowned boxing match with recent Business Intelligence tactics should evoke a sense of fighting spirit for some.
On October 30, 1974, 32-year-old Muhammad Ali becomes the heavyweight champion of the world for the second time when he knocks out 25-year-old champ George Foreman in the eighth round of the “Rumble in the Jungle,” a match in Kinshasa, Zaire. Seven years before, Ali had lost his title when the government accused him of draft-dodging and the boxing commission took away his license. His victory in Zaire made him only the second dethroned champ in history to regain his belt. Read the full article about the boxing match “ The Rumble in the Jungle” and more here.
A “rope-a-dope” BI strategy
A common trait of newly appointed Data Scientists is data curiosity. Increased data curiosity coupled with impoverished data management escalates the needs for self-service analytics. Eager Data Scientists and the general data user community tend to spend a large amount of time searching, collecting, assimilating and scrutinizing data before making information based decisions.
Unfortunately the information supply chain does not automatically turn itself into user-friendly self-service analytical information systems. Discreet defined and developed practices have to be in place to avoid being accused of BI “draft-dodging” (Draft dodging: to elude a government-imposed obligation to serve in the military forces of one’s nation. BI draft-dodging: to avoid company-wide imposed obligations to serve the business community’s information needs)
The ex-champ, Mohammed Ali, had been taunting Foreman for weeks, and the young boxer was eager to get going. When the bell rang, he began to pound Ali with his signature sledgehammer blows, but the older man simply backed himself up against the ropes and used his arms to block as many hits as he could. He was confident that he could wait Foreman out. (Ali’s trainer later called this strategy the “rope-a-dope,” …)
Much like George who expended a huge amount of energy early during the fight and Ali looking like a defeated opponent, only for George Foreman to get knocked out because of Ali’s smart rope-a-dope strategy; Business Intelligence users also expend too much time and energy on manually completing many of the upfront data preparation tasks required to enable effective analytics.
An architectural approach which uncovers the user information requirements remains the cornerstone of ANY type of successful self-service analytical system.
Part of this process is to define data reference structures for business users, supported by the most suitable technology and governed appropriately to facilitate data insights which are turned into actions.
Without a well-planned and well executed BI strategy the outcome could be similar to that of the keen younger boxer.
An idealistic view might be to stitch self-service capabilities into the existing information supply chain so that designated business users can source their own data and create or modify reports to answer immediate questions without waiting for assistance from their Information Services department.
State of the art technological solutions do promise the ultimate BI stack that are supposedly uniquely situated for building the next generation of capabilities. However, even though the current self-service revolution would not be possible without technology, the keys to success still depend largely on how well the information requirements are understood, defined and catered for within a flexible, easy to use BI system.
A self-service architecture administered in isolation is simply not enough. Organizations must establish steering committees; align Business Information Strategies with short, medium and long term goals and objectives of their business, clearly define business and technical roles while providing continuous education and support to all members of the information usage domain.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
For every potential there are several hazards which place the users at their own peril. Common pitfalls include tedious procedures which result in useless and inaccurate data, to name only one. Each promise of self-service analytics is accompanied by its own challenges.
Besides implementing an information supply chain which supports analytics, there must also be clearly defined roles for Business Users, Data Scientists and Information Services staff plus effective use of approved technology stack. In addition, an enormous hurdle to deal with is the ongoing issues of data governance; self-service solutions require a fine balance between governance and agility.
Validated, tried and tested tactics and techniques are used by experienced Business Intelligence practitioners to gain advantage in the BI realm.
“Floating like a butterfly” is to be nimble in your BI practice and to “sting like a bee” equates to enabling your business to derive valuable insights from data that drives profitability, deliver a competitive advantage and lead to new revenue streams.
Written by Susan Andrè
Alicornio Africa offers courses on how to complement and extend the lifespan of the existing Data Warehouse by positioning the role of the Data Lake. Guidelines for crafting a BI Information Strategy are provided. It gives a comprehensive overview of all aspects pertaining to BI / DW, covers all the related areas and is technology independent.
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