The division of power and knowledge is enough to undermine any organization. CEOs have power, and data scientists have knowledge, but too often those forces don’t meet. However, when they do, fact-based decision making—the true mark of a functional organization—is born. The union of power and knowledge depends on a system called “pervasive BI.” Here’s how your organization can implement this system and what it could mean for your business.
Breaking down the BI barrier
According to Robbee Minicola, senior executive in Media, Advertising, and Technology at Microsoft, “BI is not on everybody’s list. It’s a good buzzword but that doesn’t mean it’s happening in everyone’s business.” When it comes to actually using BI insights to make fact-based decisions, many CEOs are hesitant. When people hear the word “BI,” they think of the many tools needed to make sense of data. In this case, technology becomes a barrier, not an asset, and this turns business decision makers away from using BI insights on a daily basis.
Minicola believes when people are worried about tools it’s really because their data is disorganized. “The problem is the data “pantry” is such a mess that to try and figure out which tools to cook something with, you need a data scientist. The tools are complex because the data is complex. So now what happens is you need someone with a PhD to cook spaghetti when all you really need is a jar of sauce and a packet of pasta.” This “mess” is the root cause of the power-knowledge divide and prevents the leadership from using facts to guide decision making.
Insights for decision makers
Let’s take a couple steps back and consider everything about BI focuses on three buckets: data, authoring, and consumption. Microsoft chose to look past data and authoring to narrow the focus on consumption. “We wanted to figure out the path to consumption because that’s the ‘nirvana’ that no one else has done,” says Minicola. “We need to let insights touch everyone in the organization. We need to create an environment where insights are pushed out across the organization.”
CEOs can just ask their question, see the visualization, and get the information they need to make decisions.
A world of data worth exploring
The solution they came up with is simple, yet holistic—an organization-wide, self-service BI infrastructure that enables users to visualize data, share discoveries, and collaborate in intuitive new ways. “The new SharePoint Online is very intuitive,” says Minicola. “It’s not so much a repository as it is a web interface. Power BI pushes all the files and folders to the background so that all the visuals and insights are popping out, in front.” This way, CEOs can just ask their question, see the visualization, and get the information they need to make decisions.
The key to implementing a system of pervasive BI is to simplify consumption and bridge the gap between the people who create reports and those who need the information in reports to make decisions. To do this, you need to naturally curate and create worlds of insight that are intuitive to the viewer and use the cloud to push those insights across your organization. Explore these worlds freely for yourself and see how intuitive it really is. After all, simplicity and seamlessness are at the center of pervasive BI—the key to making your business a fact-based decision making organization.