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Educating Users

It's perfectly possible to have a good technological solution supporting the information strategy and yet not add value. That's just a question of not using it. If there are no users, there will not be any improved decision making, and thereby no value creation as a result of the solution. In BA, a solution is never better than its users. If we want successful implementation of BA solutions, a rule of thumb is that three elements need to be in place: user friendliness, relevant information, and general support.

In terms of user friendliness, the system must be inviting, intuitive, and clear. This is best achieved by asking the users themselves for input in relation to design. A simple solution like a report requires only one or two feedback processes between the BACC and the end users. A more complicated system that must support many business processes and many users in a changing business environment requires much more in terms of user interface and flexibility. We must therefore expect that the system will be developed in an ongoing dialogue with the business. In other words, we wouldn't start the programming of the different modules until their design was discussed with and approved by the users.

The relevance of the information is what comes out of the system. The format doesn't matter if the contents of the system are of no value. Here we can refer to another rule of thumb, which is that information—with the point of departure being the users' perspective—must be available, accurate, and actionable. If it takes a long time for the user to obtain the required information, the information cannot be said to be accessible, and users are therefore wasting their time. Similarly, the information must be precise so that users dare to base their decisions on it. Solutions obviously need to deliver useful information in relation to the business process they're supporting.

When implementing new information systems, general support means that users should be trained in using them, if we want them to actually do so. Equally, users must have easy access to support, which means that if they have questions or suggestions for improvements, they will be listened to.

If user-friendliness, relevance of information, and general support do not live up to the users' needs and expectations, user satisfaction will drop and so will the use of the systems. This situation is a nonstarter, simply because the solution was not based on the users' needs. We have created a BA system to assist with a business need, but it doesn't work, because the solution we've created has failed in one or more of the previous three dimensions.

All this brings us back to the fact that the delivery of BA information is a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link. If the system is used only half as much as expected, it has lost half its value. The costs, however, remain the same—plus introducing an increased wariness in relation to BA solutions.

Prioritizing New Business Analytics Initiatives

The final major role of a BACC is to coordinate and prioritize new BA initiatives. Since we consider this to be a key issue, we have reserved a separate chapter (Chapter 8) for this subject.

Competencies

A BACC must contain all the tasks already described. Typically, these are divided into three domains. Exhibit 7.3 shows the three domains, as well as which tasks might lie in each of these and at their intersections. We've included this exhibit because there is a difference between the competencies needed in a BACC and the way in which information moves about an organization, which is described via the information wheel. The information wheel is based on considerable preparatory work, created, among other things, through the performance of the tasks described in Exhibit 7.3.

 
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