Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Collaborative BI: Today & Tomorrow


Collaboration is becoming an increasingly important facet of our business interactions. For years, research groups like Gartner , Ventana Research and the Aberdeen Group have provided insight and predictions about this phenomenon, and today we're seeing how collaboration within the business intelligence space has moved from knowledge sharing and self-service BI to a whole new level of innovative decision-making for the business team. So let's take a look at some of the shifting points of view about Collaborative BI and where it's headed in the future.

Web 2.0 technologies and the social media boom have had a tremendous impact on what business users expect out of their business applications, especially in the collaborative space. Collaborating does not simply mean exchanging emails, making calls or holding meetings to facilitate decision-making (though they are the most-used ways according to Wayne Eckerson's Collaborative BI report). These days, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube have taught us how to share, rate, like, comment on, and especially make use of user-generated, helpful information. In our work lives, business users have learned to embrace information from various data sources – both formal and informal – as well as perform ad-hoc analyses without help from IT and share this information with colleagues. Collaborative BI as it exists presently is about facilitating the innate desire of business users to collect and share the information necessary for their everyday decision-making, while at the same time preventing duplicate work and allowing colleagues to draw on each other's strengths. Users have an expectation that social media concepts will be available to them in their business environment, and so many Collaborative BI systems, like our own arcplan Engage, incorporate rating, tagging, etc.

However, we're seeing a shift in how analysts define Collaborative BI and they are now calling for an even higher level of engagement. Though perhaps a bit premature since Collaborative BI itself is a new concept, analysts are suggesting that future Collaborative BI systems include all the elements necessary to reach non-typical business decisions, from instant messaging to threaded discussions and more. Even back in 2010, research director and BI analyst Rita Sallam of Gartner predicted a shift in collaborative decision-making that would include CDM platforms linking BI reports to simulation tools, mind mapping, shared workspaces and more. In March 2012, author and consultant Barry Devlin published a white paper on breakthrough collaboration for decision-making which calls for a new wave of collaboration based on the need for "a mechanism to organize, direct and document the team's collaboration – the entire process [and] not simply the outcome." To Dr. Devlin, it's important to see the history of the thought process that brought about an innovative decision. He proposes that collaborative decision-making consists of individuals investigating BI and interacting as a team using Web 2.0 technologies. These two pathways coupled with an effective record management process leads to innovative team decision making and is a more thorough approach to Collaborative BI.

In January 2012, Wayne Eckerson's survey on Trends in the Use of Collaboration in BI Tools revealed that business users are already gravitating towards this shift in collaborative BI. Users desire collaborative features such as content annotation, shared workspaces, instant messages, threaded discussions, and comments among other features, and of the 277 respondents, some have already implemented these features.

Wayne Eckerson, 2012. Survey: Trends in the Use of Collaboration in BI Tools

Wayne Eckerson, 2012. Survey: Trends in the Use of Collaboration in BI Tools

Collaboration is a two-way street – the insight of an individual user is just as important as the wisdom of the crowd, and successful decision-making occurs at the intersection of the two. We're going to see Collaborative BI platforms evolve over time to incorporate the features that users want and need as analysts survey the market and vendors collect feedback from customers.

Have you begun implementing a Collaborative BI solution? If so, how do you see it evolving over time? What features are missing that you'd like to see in a future release?

Monique Morgan

About Monique Morgan

I'm the Marketing Project Manager at arcplan and work out of our Wayne, PA office. I'm originally from Jamaica but came to the US for college and I've been here ever since. I'm the voice behind a lot of arcplan's videos on YouTube - check them out here:
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.