For many organizations, the use of data analysis tools, analytics programs, or BI software is…
I recently read an article on the development of modern music that resonated with my thoughts on where the fields of BI and analytics are headed. At the dawn of our digital era more than half a century ago, a man named Robert Moog invented the most commercially viable and popular music synthesizer that forever improved the art of music production.
Rather than replicating versions of individual instruments – strings, brass, percussion – Moog designed a system in 1964 that allowed musicians to recreate the sounds of all of them. And by synthetically replicating every possible musical tone, he broke down the barriers between individual instruments, allowing musicians to mix and modulate multiple sounds to create entirely new ones in revolutionary new compositions.
Recent meetings with BOARD enterprise customers around the world have illustrated a similar revolutionary convergence in which they have benefited from what had been individual products (BI reporting, forecasting, planning, and predictions) being combined into a single software platform. They too have broken down the barriers between those individual components, giving them a powerful multiplier effect that is far greater than the sum of individual parts.
By aligning strategy with execution and finance with operations, they are now able to make strategic decisions for the entire enterprise with a degree of reliability and accuracy previously unknown in the BI/Analytics realm.
Industry Analyst Wayne Eckerson of the Eckerson Group has documented similar findings in his new report “Decision Making Platforms – Driving Decisions from Insights.” Eckerson writes that in decision-making software, “the same integrated repository of data used for reporting and analysis tasks can be used by visual discovery tools, data science and planning and budgeting tools. Rather than create duplicate data sets for each functional area, a decision-making platform uses one data set to support all workloads.”
“Similarly, planning tools set targets that can be incorporated into dashboards and scorecards. And planning spares BI tools from having to create a clumsy what-if analysis without detailed models that come from planning and budgeting tools.”
As an example, Eckerson sites executives of a major US university trying to understand the potential impact on infrastructure and resources if it grows its student population by 10%. “Performing this ‘what-if’ analysis is a manual process that requires a team of expert data analysts. They need to spend weeks combining and crunching data from many different sources. The result is a static document with no ability for members of the executive council to adjust the scenario.
“In contrast, with a decision-making platform the executives themselves can create various scenarios using a point-and-click interface. They can adjust variables in the models, click a button, and see the impact on other variables, such as staffing, class size, teacher-student ratio, and costs. The application is ready and available when they want to use it; it doesn’t require a team of data analysts to customize the data set and visualizations.”
What Robert Moog and earlier engineers did for music production half a century ago is now being done for enterprise-class decision making. And, just as music composition was revolutionized then, the productivity and accuracy gains to corporate adopters of decision-making platforms is transforming the BI market, delivering far more than the mere sum of those platform’s parts.
Read the full Decision-Making Platforms – Driving Decisions from Insights research paper by Eckerson.