Intelligence is the function of brain. Logical side of brain receives, processes and evaluates data with required help from right brain (Non logical/emotional) and interprets it for taking decisions. If we look at the synonyms of the word Intelligence, we find words like Acumen, Aptitude, Astuteness and Cleverness etc. I will prefer to call it as tip of the iceberg called as wisdom.
Another applied meaning of Intelligence is having insight into enemy/competitor’s actions and our own empire to find out whether things are going on, as expected. It helps to predict future trend of results depending on our current actions. This as well depends on data and both parts of the brain playing their role judicially. Recently we have heard a term “Business Intelligence” more widely used. It means intelligence applied in business scenarios. Considering this applied meaning, I think Business Intelligence is being used for getting insight in the operations of the organization and performance in the marketplace. It helps to look at and analyze historical information but also helps to predict/forecast future with reasonable accuracy.
Manufacturing industry has set parameters to monitor and control their businesses. Data on those parameters is collected and computed by the IT systems implemented in those organizations. In my observation these parameters are organizational objectives, which management sets for various departments. These objectives are sacrosanct for those departments and all out efforts are made to achieve them. How information on these parameters is presented for making decisions is extremely important and identified BI tool helps present it in a big way.
All out efforts by departments to achieve identified parameters are good however in many organizations they cause sub-optimization. Every function is focused on “What we want” and customer focus gets faded in the entire process. It is necessary to reformat what we measure in the organization and our IT systems need to be tuned to collect the relevant data on these redefined parameters. This is an exercise by itself and should be done before BI tool is identified and implemented.
Manufacturing industries have matured over a long period for defining, measuring and controlling business parameters, which are crucial for their business. I would like to broadly categorize these parameters in the following categories:
- Parameters which satisfy internal customers
- Parameters which satisfy Management expectations
- Parameters which satisfy external customers (If applicable for that process)
Generally parameters which satisfy 2nd and 3rd category are focused in the organization. Data is gathered, monitored and suitable actions are taken if data tells us that expectations are not met. One needs to understand that if we are managing business in this fashion, lot of time there is finger pointing and large amount of time is spent to find out the causes and actions to eliminate those causes. Road to satisfy external customer always pass through satisfaction of internal customers. If we start measuring and monitoring parameters for each process which satisfy internal customer’s expectations, majority things will be set right for 2nd and 3rd category parameters.
Business intelligence information that we are talking about will emerge from measuring and monitoring internal customer’s expectations. This information will tell us in advance, things going wrong before major catastrophe occur.
Organizations need to set up a system to capture this information on internal customer’s expectations and identify right BI tool to portray this information for all relevant people. If KPIs for the process owners are defined on the basis of the 3 categories explained above and rewarded for meeting them, data will be gathered and monitored.
In my opinion BI tool implemented with this perspective will immensely help organizations. It will bring in customer focus, process orientation and awareness towards monitoring and improving processes. It will bring in transparency in the organization, will bring in cohesiveness and people will work towards the common purpose complimentary to organizational goals.
BI with right organizational initiative can transform an organizational culture and will help it to grow manifolds in the business domain they are operating.