Examples from Highly Successful Data Collaboration Solutions

Collaborative business intelligence might look like today’s Internet-based collaborative experience in several ways. The following sections discuss features that are most likely to become commonplace within a collaborative business intelligence solution.

Rate a report

If you look up a book on Amazon, you find a rating and customer feedback. This rating and associated feedback might be the information that drives you to purchase that book — or go for a different book. In the world of business intelligence, users could leverage report rating features to locate the most valuable information for their needs and provide descriptive feedback, which allows users to understand how the report serves the user population best.

Report relationships

When you access a particular book’s page on Amazon, you can scroll down a little on the page to see a section that highlights books that other shoppers purchased at the same time they bought the one you’re evaluating. This feature in your data warehouse could assist users in understanding interrelated reports and views provided within the business intelligence environment.

For example, you might be looking at the top ten sales report and see that users who viewed this report also reviewed the active promotions report, the commission schedule report, and the products by territory analytical view. The relationship of data across reports (which you might not see within individual reports) can become obvious if you see the patterns of users’ report access.

Find a report

You’re probably comfortable with searching technologies, such as the ones that Google offers, and taxonomies, such as those you can find through Yahoo!. Search-engine technology has evolved over the years to incorporate relationships, ranking, popularity, and user weighting, along with various linguistic capabilities needed to search.

Most business-intelligence vendors have begun offering search capabilities, often from vendors such as Google, within their platforms. In the future, you’ll use the search engine inside your firewall, out on the Internet, in your data warehouse, and in public data sources — in essence, securely searching all over the place for the information you need.

Find the meaning

Wikis, such as Wikipedia, enable users to capture content (edit and publish) and shape it to become key intellectual property that you can think of as corporate knowledge. How many times have users come to you with that question mark look on their face, trying to decipher the meaning of a report or the data presented in a column or graph?

Leveraging and integrating this technology enables a growing knowledge base to form around each view or perspective presented out of the data warehouse and business intelligence solution, which can establish the corporate knowledge on the user of your data assets.

Shared interests — shared information

Social networking brings people together through shared interests — for example, your sales teams with marketing promotions personnel or inventory control personnel. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr are all examples of social network environments that consumers are now swarming.

Are bored people at home the only people going to these sites? Definitely not! Large advertisers, such as Procter and Gamble, have spotted this trend and are spending large sums of their advertising budgets on these sites because they see a huge transfer of consumers from the old technology (television) to the new technology (social networking on the Internet).

Imagine being able to post a view of information that you don’t quite understand so that your peer group can try to figure out a reasonable explanation for the changes that have you confused — especially before the boss comes asking for an answer.

Visualization

Gaming software of today provides stimulating entertainment and intriguing lessons in interface design. These interfaces provide a strong attraction for users, which is very different from the anxiety and resistance that users display when they utilize the tools you provide them for accessing their data warehouse.

Advances in visual technology have been in place for some time, and with Nintendo’s Wii, even the hardware devices are simplified! And now that you can access gaming online, you can play some death-and-destruction game with your long-lost college roommate who now lives in Thailand.

Well, why not get together with your sales counterpart in the Far East to determine how to better sell your products to a specific ethnic community? You can make this connection by collaborating on utilizing all the technologies described within this chapter and both of you surfing the data with more natural techniques.

If you don’t think this kind of collaboration will happen, just watch some movies. The creative minds are working on these kinds of technological collaborations, and they’ll expand on the concept, giving the world mash-ups of data access technologies with visualization and manipulation technologies soon enough.

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