Actionable Information


I was browsing through Sarah Burnett’s blog and came across an article about Actionable Information. I thought that this was making a very strong point about what constitutes good BI and what doesn’t. While BI technologists can become incredibly focussed on the intricacies of warehouse design or complex ETL, it is undeniable that all of this is worthless unless it serves to answer real business questions. You can have a perfect technical information architecture and yet all of your efforts will go to waste if there is not sufficient alignment with what people actually want to report on.

This seems like a really obvious point to make, but during my career I have seen many reporting and analysis systems fail to take it into account and observed their designers consequently scratching their heads over poor usage numbers. Elsewhere I have argued that it is helpful to treat the systems (and the change related to them) like products that have to be marketed professionally. The product analogy works equally well in stating that BI needs to address the requirements of its users, else it will stay on the shelf of the systems’ super market. Sarah makes this point very well in her article and it is one that I will come back to in the future.

Sarah Burnett is a software industry analyst. Her main area of research is Business Intelligence. She am also interested in Public Sector IT and Green IT.

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