In my last post, Innovators Use Data, I mentioned ubiquitous collaboration, amongst a number of excellent reasons why innovators use data. This time I wanted to dive into some detail on what this means. I’d like to posit a scenario that may be all too familiar to many business people.

You and your colleagues are investigating new trends in your business, but your reports don’t answer your questions, and you leave your meeting with more questions than you went in with. So you go create more reports, then call another meeting – which generates more questions and more reports.

Here’s a scenario that some business people are getting more familiar with. You and your colleagues are investigating new trends in your business. You interact with data live during the meeting and filter, sort, and discuss data on the fly. You ask and answer questions in the moment. At the end of the meeting you embed a live dashboard in your SharePoint site or Salesforce. You save your view of data and allow colleagues to subscribe to your interactive dashboards so they see the very latest data just by refreshing their web browser.

Which one sounds like real collaboration… and what does this look like to implement?

Natively Mobile

You make decisions in meetings, at customer sites and on the go. Your business intelligence should be natively mobile to support analytics anywhere and everywhere for all of your stakeholders. Touch awareness happens automatically with no special authoring or design changes.

Combination Of Flexibility & Compliance

As Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for BI Platforms: has it “business users demand easy to use, flexible products that put analytic power into their own hands, against IT’s desire to maintain standards and create a supportable BI environment with predictable performance and quality data.” It’s not a question of choosing between flexibility or compliance — you need both.

You need to centralise data sources and apply metadata, yet still be able to extend it by adding your own calculations, hierarchies, and aliases. Organisations that master rapid-fire business intelligence let IT set up the data architecture, security, and access controls, while giving business people the ability to serve themselves reports and dashboards.

Shared & Extensible Metadata

Rapid-fire business intelligence provides your organisation with a centralised data source and metadata layer — yet still enables you and your colleagues to add your own calculations; create new groups, sets, and parameters; organise data into hierarchies; and modify aliases.

Centralised Data

The data server provides a centralised location to manage all of your organisation’s published data sources. You can delete, change permissions, add tags, and manage schedules in one convenient location. It’s easy to schedule extract refreshes and manage them in the data server. Administrators can centrally define a schedule for extracts on the server for both incremental and full refreshes to save time and effort.

And behind the scenes you need to look for the following:

  • Scalability to allow your project to grow under its own speed
  • Access to an unlimited number of data sources because a BI programme tends to become more comprehensive with time
  • Mix-and-match deployment configurations since you may want to empower different teams with different tools
  • Easy licensing, if your BP programme is to be flexible, are you able to use it the way that’s right for your business?

Data-driven decision making is only helpful if you can view and communicate insights in time to take action. Employees who have grown up with the Internet and social media are unwilling to wait in a months-long queue for a new report or a change request. Rapid-fire business intelligence benefits the organisation and the individual. They spend less time and fewer resources to enable more self-reliance, data discovery and better collaboration; all while tackling diverse big data and scaling at the organisation’s pace.