In recent months we’ve explored Collaborative BI as a growing trend and how it’s gaining popularity as an extension of traditional business intelligence solutions. Despite all the hype around this topic, it can be confusing to determine what makes Collaborative BI unique. I’ve seen the terms “Collaborative BI” and “enterprise collaboration” used interchangeably a lot lately, and while both may fall under the categories “Collaborative Decision-Making” or “Knowledge Management,” there are distinctions between the two that are important to understand.
Though enterprise collaboration and Collaborative BI share some of the same features – the ability for users to interact like they would on social media, for example, rating, tagging, and commenting on content – enterprise collaboration is less specific about the type of interaction employees have. These platforms, like SharePoint and Socialcast, enable users to chat with each other, post blogs and wikis, make announcements, view the activity streams of other users, collaborate on projects, take polls, and generally do all the things they’d do in a workplace – but online. They provide a secure place for business users to work together and eliminate some of the need for project-related e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and shared drives. This article on CMS Wire gives a great example of how enterprise collaboration can improve the work life of a manager and his project team. It’s all about workflow and process-driven decision-making (as opposed to data-driven decision-making, which Collaborative BI facilitates).
Here are two ways that enterprise collaboration may look at your company:
Collaborative BI enables employees at every level to make meaningful decisions for their areas of responsibility, backed by easily-accessible information and analyses. With 15% of BI deployments containing collaborative elements by 2013 according to Gartner, it’s time to start evaluating the kind of Collaborative BI solution that will work for your enterprise. To help, we’ve defined the top 5 criteria you should consider:
1. Integration of disparate systems
Integration of varying systems is a challenge for most businesses, but one that can be overcome with the right Collaborative BI solution. Enterprises often have several different stand-alone solutions for BI in place as well as other decision-relevant – often unstructured – content that is disconnected from BI systems. Your Collaborative BI solution should act as a bridge between these disparate systems, connecting them with a simple search function that delivers results from multiple BI vendors, third-party systems like SharePoint or e-mail, documents, articles, and user-contributed content. It should also allow users to open and use any report, analysis, or document within the Collaborative BI interface so that switching between tools is unnecessary.
2. Flexibility & personalization
Collaborative BI systems must allow users to perform a variety of actions, from contributing content to bookmarking to knowledge sharing. The ability for users to submit content to enrich the Collaborative BI system is paramount for system affinity and adoption. Who better to contribute content than users themselves – those who are making everyday business decisions with their available data? Users must be able to upload relevant information and reports from external sources (Salesforce.com for example) as well as bookmark items as favorites. In our own Collaborative BI solution, arcplan Engage, users have BI Walls where they can pin frequently-viewed reports or snippets of dashboards. In this way, each user can configure their own personal Collaborative BI environment.
3. Availability on any device