Business Intelligence and Transparency


“There is nowhere to hide”

This is something I have heard from a number of business people when they have begun to appreciate both the power of well-designed business intelligence (BI) and, more importantly, the way that it lays bare what is happening in different parts of an organisation. There is a dawning realisation that not only can they get at the numbers that they need to run their business, so can their colleague in the next office, or their counterpart in another country. So can their manager and their manager’s manager.

Of course it might be thought that there is a negative connotation to the “nowhere to hide” phrase. However, my experience has been that instead business people warm to the even playing field that good BI delivers. What happens is that people begin to focus on relative performance, rather than just absolute performance.

Maybe before the advent of BI, a manager might be content that he or she was meeting their targets. Now they can see that while they are meeting their targets, so are all of their colleagues, against whose performance they will be assessed. As well as meeting their targets, some of the manager’s colleagues are comfortably exceeding them; perhaps the manager ranks only 8 out of 10 peers. What is crucial here is that they can see how they are placed early enough to do something about it; to catch up with their colleagues that have moved ahead. The upshot of this healthy competition is that overall performance increases.

The transparency that is a major attribute of BI can provide the impetus to raise business performance from the adequate to the outstanding. As well as maybe providing an incentive to the underperforming, it is a clear way for the best performers to demonstrate what they have achieved and for benchmarks to be set for the rest of the organisation.

When there is nowhere to hide, then rewards and remuneration can be more clearly aligned with performance and the workplace becomes a clearer, rules-based place to operate; one where good work is more easily recognised and decisions are based on facts. This cultural transformation is an excellent outcome for both the organisation and its employees.

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