What is Embedded BI?

A guest post by David Haimes, Director Product Development, Oracle

I've been working with customers since we started Fusion; gathering requirements, reviewing designs and more recently planning their implementations and helping them successfully go live.  One question that often comes up is exactly what do we mean by Embedded Business Intelligence (BI).  I normally answer it with reference to a blog post I wrote inspired by an Oracle Ace Debra Lilley.

What is Embedded BI?

Let's start with a working definitions, Embedded BI is embedding BI in the operational process that drives your business.

So let's relate that to an everyday scenario of me getting to work on a bus and often finding myself running for and sometimes missing the bus, resulting in taking the first 15 minutes of a meeting on my phone with a lot of distracting background noise.  My operational activity is getting out of bed, ready for work, maybe doing some work/checking mails, having breakfast, getting some kids dressed and finally I walk out of the door to jump on a bus to the office.

My traditional BI world is looking back on a week and wondering why I missed the bus three times, what impact that had on my life and how I might take some corrective action.  I may determine it takes 6 minutes to walk to the bus stop or 4 minutes if I run a little.  Maybe I notice that on two occasions the bus left 1 minute early and that was why I missed it.  I might analyze decide that for the next week I will set all the clocks in the house 1 minute fast, that way I should arrive at the bus stop 1 minute early and that ought to prevent me missing two buses a week that arrive early and make a huge difference to my punctuality and effectiveness in morning meetings.

Now as anybody who has tried setting clocks forward in order to trick themselves into leaving earlier and so preventing occurrences of tardiness will testify, it doesn't work.  You look at the clock showing 6:50am and mentally subtract a minute and figure you have time for one more slice of toast if you eat it fast and then run a little.

So how is Embedded BI going to help me more? 

(I am getting to the point soon, I hope you're still reading) Well the BI I get needs to embedded into my operational world and help me make better decisions in real time.  In order to do that I would need it to be relevant, timely and actionable.  Let's look at these three three items in the context of an example - I am considering eating one more slice of toast at 6:50, my next bus is at 7:05, the one after that is 7:40, the bus journey takes 12 minutes, then I have a 5 minute walk and I need to be at my desk at 8am to host a Web Conference, the fare is $2 and I only have a $20 bill in my pocket.

Timely - This is easy, I need information before I put the toast in the toaster.  If it comes after I put the toast in the toaster but before I start eating it then I might still get my bus but have to leave the toast behind and wasted.  If I get it even later I may miss my bus.  As you can see the later in the task I get the information the worse the result is.

Relevant - I don't want generic information on my bus catching/missing history over the last 12 months.  I want to know how often does having a slice of toast 15 minutes before my bus is due causes me to miss my bus. Some information about how often the 7:05 bus arrives early would help too.

Actionable - In my bus example the action is pretty much down to me, I get up from the table and head out of the door, the action is in my own hands.  One action I might need to take is to break my $20 bill to make sure I have the correct change for the bus fare, embedded BI would remind me of this and might even present the alternative option of borrowing $2 in change from my 5 year old's money box (A further action might be to remind me when I get home to pay it back)

The example I am using is fairly trivial and most people would tell me to just arrive 5 minutes early all the time to be sure of catching the bus.  However in business the decisions are much more important and the results translate into operational efficiencies, less mistakes, higher productivity, higher sales, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction better profits all those good things.

This sets the stage and then as we show the real time intelligence embedded throughout Fusion I find end users are able to quickly identify the embedded BI and see it's value.  They are also able to articulate what information they need and where and when they need to have it to make the maximum difference to their effectiveness.

Please let me know your thoughts on Embedded BI in the comments section below.
Comments:

How can I subscribe your blog by email ? Thanks

Posted by guest on May 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM PDT #

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