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Business Intelligence Tools Must be Reimagined for Virtual Workplaces

Published On 04-12-2017, By Arjun Kulkarni

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In our last post, we touched upon the notion that your workplace isn’t the only workplace anymore. And Business intelligence (BI) applications can’t be constrained by your office spaces alone, because your employees aren’t 9-to-5 office denizens. 

Most of the time, they’re in their offices. Well, actually, maybe not most of the time.

Some of the time, they’re in morning standups or pre-lunch kickoff meetings. And then there are those 2pm ad-hoc sessions. Oh, and let’s not forget, collaborative work groups, design pod meetings and departmental roundtables.

Then there’s the business lunches, sales calls, and divisional planning sessions or C-suite discussions.

Or maybe they’re working from the road this week. Their seven-year-old has the flu and they’re working from home today. They’re off for the weekend, but having a sudden brainstorm at 10pm on Saturday night. They’re catching up on e-mail while they’re on the train or stuck in traffic. They’re working from the breakroom. The bathroom. The maternity room. And at times, unconstrained by rooms — under the clear blue sky.

Surely, these situations are familiar to you.

Over the course of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, industrializing employers tried — ever so hard — to force Life to occur only outside the confines of 9-to-5, Monday through Friday.

In their day, that made sense.

The needs of the market demanded a predictable supply. Supply predictability depended upon labor predictability. Labor predictability was largely subject to social norms that were dictated by slow transportation, slow communication and, well, the availability of daylight.

The telegraph and the proliferation of an electric grid were the first chinks in 9-to-5’s armor. Then came the telephone. The teletype. Computers. Eventually, cellular phones and interconnected computer networks. Now, the Cloud and the Internet of Things.

And we haven’t even touched upon the social factors that contribute to the popularity of a virtual workplace — increasing cost of office spaces, increasing commute times and traffic and increasing fuel costs. The brick-and-mortar “workplaces” of the 19th and 20th Century have been replaced by one that exists now only as a mental construct.

Work is where (and when) the thinking or the doing occurs. And when it does, your people need to be empowered with tools that support the decisions and actions that they need to take – on devices that are easily available to them.

Mobile BI isn’t a trend. It’s business, evolving.

To be sure, many companies are already adopting mobile BI- as a source for making better decisions on-the-go. A 2015 Forrester survey found that mobile BI usage increased fourfold between 2012 and 2014.

But mobile BI adoption doesn’t translate directly to competitive advantage. Context is important.

Some companies try to adapt their existing data management, analytics and business intelligence apparatuses to support mobile, rather than employ solutions that live mobile. That can be problematic from a UX standpoint — it’s the technological equivalent of mashing square pegs into round holes. Businesses increasingly find that they need BI solutions designed from the mobile user’s perspective. Yet we continue to find examples of enterprises that merely support mobile.

So how do we rethink mobile BI in a way that actively supports our the KRAs of our virtual workers? How do we create a system, from the ground up, that works for our users?

  • Identify which pockets of the organization these virtual workers lie in. Typically, it’s your salespeople or supply chain and field operations users whose work requires them to be away from their desk more frequently than they’re at their desk.
  • Map their key responsibility areas. Once you know what they need to accomplish, you’re better able to assess where improved access to information and analytics would help them. It may be helpful to think about this in terms of where processes can be impacted or where performance  can be improved.
  • Engage field-based teams. To build out a solution for your teams, it is critical to first understand their work — their challenges and their opportunities. Engage stakeholders from these teams to who will have a strong understanding of their business process, so that a solution can be appropriately developed for their consumption.
  • Stay on top of industry innovations. Continuously look out for new areas of mobile analytics to continuously improve existing business use cases.

Should you be concerned about Mobile BI?

Yes. You should be concerned if your company isn’t facilitating it. But it shouldn’t worry you to break down silos, nor to break away from a concept of “workplace” best relegated to the dust of the Industrial Revolution.

This is the Mobile Revolution. We invite you to join us.

Why your company needs personalized analytics

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Why Your Company Needs Personalized Analytics

Why Your Company Needs Personalized Analytics

The Intelligent Enterprise rejects endless dashboards and unfiltered data streams for a single app that brings it all together, daring to imagine a world where data becomes a competitive differentiator that empowers business teams to make decisions on the go.