Finding the keys to your business in the dark

finding keys to your businessLet’s look at the top 5 directions and challenges in using business intelligence to drive your organisation to achieve its goals and objectives.

  1. What are the biggest challenges for CIOs looking to meet users’ future needs?   
  2. Most organisations have a good set of standards and guidelines for the management of information (with a focus on structured information), but why doesn’t this work well enough?
  3. Why is unstructured data so important to be able to analyse and so difficult at the same time?
  4. What are the tools we should be using to look at unstructured data?
  5. Do I still need an information Strategy and what does it need to deliver to really help me?

What are the biggest challenges for CIOs looking to meet users’ future needs?   

  • Between 80% and 90% of an organisation’s key information will be or is unstructured data. Meaning it is: non text-based such as scans, photos, images, voice recordings, or text based  such as email, documents or XML / web forms, and even social media chat.
  • There is growing recognition of the importance of making use of unstructured data for decision making and much of this data is generated using mobile tools. For example how easily and often do you make use of the calls to your call centre in making your strategic decisions? YouTube videos? Consumer TV?
  • Current strategies and investment in EDRMS systems to store documents can be undermined by something as simple as people avoid them, and because the saving and managing of documents is incidental to doing a business process. (I’ll do that later)
    Instead of providing support to users, the EDRMS places demands on them and makes it harder.
  • Use of spatial data and reporting is growing at an incredible rate and is heaping layers of complexity and depth into the data pile that is available to organisations i.e. Google Maps.
  • New techniques, tools and thinking is needed to make use of this array of information.

2. Most organisations have a good set of standards and guidelines for the management of information (with a focus on structured information), but why doesn’t this work well enough?

  • The standards set out what should be happening, but that doesn’t ensure that it is happening. 
  • The key weakness is often the lack of connection between an organisation’s business processes and the documents created during these processes. 

3. Why is unstructured data so important to be able to analyse and so difficult at the same time?

  • Structured data is predictable and predictable: an air flight reservation, or a banking transaction, whereas people create unstructured information and there is little that is predictable as a result.
  • Different techniques and tools are needed to analyse unstructured data.

4. What are the tools we should be using to look at unstructured data?

  • Text – Text analytics tools – These are linguistic, statistical, and machine learning techniques that model and structure the textual content for BI and create metadata that can be searched.
  • Voice recordings – Organisations can use systems that convert speech into text, which can then be interrogated using “analytics tools”.
  • Techniques for images include using workflow, metadata, and outsourcing.  

5. Do I still need an information strategy and what does it need to deliver to really help me?

  • Short answer is YES, you do need an information strategy, but you are going to need help to make it relevant and to make it work for you. Don’t reinvent the wheel, it is being reinvented every day out there.
  • Your strategy will have standard components such as current state, desired future state, goals and outcomes, but it must cover both structured and unstructured information. 
  • The strategy must identify the priority business activities that are needed to deliver outstanding wins i.e.  frequently occurring activities that carry out a key function or bring in profitable revenue. 
  • The strategy must also identify information compliance obligations and the link to key business processes.  Information audits can be used to gather this information. 

Clare Somerville is the Managing Director of Knoware. Trish O’Kane is a Consultant at Knoware.