Work Like Sherlock with Business Analytics
by Martyn Hart, Chairman, National Outsourcing Association
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles,” said Sherlock Holmes. And maybe surprisingly, the Victorian sleuth is a lucid commentator on a major outsourcing trend for 2012: Business Analytics.
Analytics is a singular topic at the forefront of every CIO’s mind at the moment. According to the Gartner CIO Agenda survey, it is the number one technology - ahead of mobile at number two, and cloud at three - that CIOs see as their priority in 2012.
Becoming an intelligent business is the only way to truly know where you are at: having a strong grip on understanding your processes is the route to controlling them, and of course, manipulating them to best advantage. This is especially pertinent when under the cosh for a fast decision; having proper business intelligence in place is certainly the best way to circumnavigate a disaster.
At least you’d see it coming, and be able to plan for it. According to a whitepaper I read by Dan Burrows on sourcingfocus.com, “management information analyses only ‘out-of-band’ occurrences; in other words, always reporting by exception. The information delivered is accurate, available in the form required and available when required; preferably delivered to key consumers, rather than extracted on request.”
Makes perfect sense. Monitoring the horizon for potential problems, rather than relying on guesswork / soothsaying / outsourcer’s intuition…like Sherlock always says: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.” Sherlock never guesses, he never assumes, he never “insensibly begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
But additionally to merely exception reporting, true contemporary analytics fills your business with the earliest, most accurate management information. It is therefore, your best hope of emulating the master detective, and working out the solution from a disparate array of clues.
For that is the ultimate aim of business intelligence: to mimic the human brain, and get the whole organisation thinking as one. For non-intelligent businesses, too much information is stored ‘up top,’ in various different minds around the company. Sometimes with questionable accuracy, sometimes in disagreement…
“Any truth is better than indefinite doubt,” is another of Sherlock’s musings. This correlates with Dan Burrows’ whitepaper, when he says another aspect of the infinite power of BI is, having “only one version of the truth.” He advocates “single source forms the basis for all reporting, whether by dashboard or scorecard, static report or data-discovery tool. Its structure supports intuitive drill-downs and the more complex ‘slice ‘n dice’ capabilities.”
The methodology of which Sherlock might describe as: “balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination.” That is Holmes’ stock in trade. If you are an intelligent business, it will be yours too. Keeping a scrutinous eye on the tiniest events - after all, “there is nothing so important as trifles” - to drive the way to success in the momentous ones. That’s what BI delivers. Deduction with a higher powered mind. Just like the master detective himself. In the words of Sherlock Holmes: “Education never ends Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.”
Thanks to Dan Burrows of Waterstons, and of course, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for the inspiration for this blog.