A friend of ours tells a great story. Before they had the proper BI tools, he would get a weekly "Oh, My!" report. Once a week, someone would come up to his desk, and drop a 300+ page binder on it. In this binder was the previous weeks performance. Pages and pages of spreadsheets and tables. He would flip to one of the last pages, look down the sheet until he saw the numbers he wanted, say "Oh, My!" and drop the report into the recycling bin afterwards. Really, he had no use for the report after he got his two numbers.
One of the biggest problems we see with other analytic tools is their lack of real-time information. What happened last week doesn't matter anymore. The damage is done. The customers were shorted. The product didn't go out. The order was wrong. All you can really do at that point is damage control.
Knowing what's happening right now in your organization can provide immense and important insight into your organization. It also allows for what I believe is the best part of BI, the ability to act now. Being able to react immediately to any issue that you're having limits the amount of damage any one mistake, incident, or fault in your supply chain can do. If you can see, right now, which of your employees are not producing enough, or trucks are not getting filled fast enough, or which machine isn't reacting properly, wouldn't you go out and fix them?
Simply put, stacks of spreadsheets with only two or three pages being worthwhile is not Business Intelligence. We only really get intelligence when we can do things easier, faster, and get more out of them. Real-time analysis is the only proper way to accomplish this, as it allows us to interact with our operations in ways that are unparalleled to any other method.
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