Business Intelligence: Avoiding “Operation Mincemeat”

What? Operation what? That’s right, Mincemeat and I am not referring to scrumptious pies at Christmas… I am referring to the reality of misinformation. What was a successful operation and asset to the Allies has become a minefield for today’s enterprise and a thirst, or more likely a downright need, for the ability to utilize our valuable data in a meaningful manner.

Let me digress for a second……I do not think we all need to be reminded of what Business Intelligence can do for us today – the facts and the benefits are plain and clear – take your data and make it actionable. Remove the idea of reporting on data and realize the vision of using data….

So one wonders why we have not all embarked upon our voyage of discovery aboard the great ship “B.I. Enlightenment.” And when we start to walk up the boarding ramp, waving goodbye to the stale data of yesteryear and the meaningless seventy characters of green bar reports we never understood anyway, we spare a moment to think “are there any icebergs in this sea?”

Of course, when one makes that pause there is a realization — what are you really gaining intelligence into? For many enterprises, our data is split across several systems and platforms; some of which are real time in nature others of which may be a week behind the times.

From what I have seen, many people are requesting more information on the tools – Which is best of breed? What do I get out of the box? Can my analysts use it? Can my dog understand it as he brings me my Sunday morning paper? How quickly can you show me my data in action?  These questions can all be answered and the “wow factor” of BI can take precedent and the definition of KPIs ensues full steam ahead for some people.

What is missing? I appear to be on the first landing but I do not remember taking the first flight of stairs…….well let’s flip back to “Operation Mincemeat”: or now to be known as “Is my data ready for Intelligence?” A critical step that must be considered lies not in the value of BI but in the readiness of your data. Misinformation was wonderful in the 1940’s but it has no place in the business arena.

When your data becomes an actionable entity you must be able to rely on its accuracy and ease of access. Reporting on reports was the way of the past – “That looks great Bill but can you cross reference that with data store “x” as sometimes we can be a little stale”. The true key to embarking on Business Intelligence is understanding where you are today in your data maturity and most important, how do you get where you need to be – reliable, reusable, actionable information.

So what does it all mean?  It means, assess where you are before you set sail……the voyage is glorious and the sights not to be missed but make sure you have a ticket for the right ship.

2 thoughts on “Business Intelligence: Avoiding “Operation Mincemeat”

  1. Great post – I love the mincemeat analogy! 🙂

    Accurate, accessible data is critical to the success of Business Intelligence and BI professionals are also well placed to help assure data quality for the entire organisation. Good data quality starts with an understanding the current situation and the costs to the business of inadequate or fragmented information. This knowledge enables the enterprise to take action to control, improve and protect the quality of data, its most valuable asset.

    The new generation of data quality software can play a vital role as part of a holistic approach that includes implementing data governance and improving business processes.

  2. Ahhhhhh Data Governance, the phrase that sends so many eyebrows furrowing, like a field awaiting planting. Funnily enough, as I continue to steer my tractor down a bizarre farming avenue, the plot thickens: As any good farmer knows, crops grow in fertile soil, they spoil when we do not prepare adequately.

    Your post rings so true and hits on the exact nub of the situation. Without data readiness, encompassing the full gamut of quality and governance we are planting corn in a potato field and expecting a crop that tastes good.

    BI for BI’s sake is Basically Ignorant….BI built on the correct groundwork, utilizing skilled data resources with a little dash of the latest technology is Blooming Ingenious!

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