The use of business intelligence has the power to radically transform the way that modern businesses operate.
Indeed, capture and analysis of customer data can inform many aspects of business strategy, from decisions about pricing to the type of products to offer at certain times of the year. As a technical exercise, it’s relatively easy to do, with abundant processing power and easy-to-use applications making it simple for more and more people to encorporate this information into their daily work. The real challenge presents itself when trying to adjust the mindsets of individuals steeped in the framework of traditional work practices.
Our European-based research has shown that a drive towards business intelligence utilisation can start with a small group of enthusiasts who subsequently become a community of practice within an organisation. As a result of their active promotion of business intelligence, the mindset of such individuals can ultimately permeate an entire organisation. Of course, this type of change can be hard to achieve, with proponents first needing to demonstrate the clear benefits and advantages of data analytics. Moreover, they need to convince colleagues of the need to modify their existing processes.
In the instance of a European retail organisation we examined in our study (view it at http://aisel.aisnet.org/ecis2012/28/), some of the early lessons imparted did indeed lead to small-scale innovations in regards to certain product lines and processes. This was enough to ensure that an appreciation of business intelligence filtered through to all levels of the organisation. Eventually, these practices received the support of the CEO, ensuring that a business intelligence mindset quickly influenced all aspects of organisational strategy making.
The key message is that organisations should notice communities of practice that spring up within their midst and acknowledge the potential creative power of business intelligence ideas. These ideas may be divergent, but there’s a strong possibility they could be used to develop a powerful competitive advantage.
Author: Petri Hallikainen – senior lecturer - University of Sydney Business School