Embedded Business Intelligence: Beware The Traps: Page 2

Embedded BI gets plenty of breathless praise, yet two key problems lurk beneath the hype.
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The Aberdeen survey did mention that the leading challenge to embedding BI was usability. The report said 43 percent of respondents cited that challenge, but that response underestimates the reality of the situation due to the way the survey data were collected and processed. Meanwhile, some users and vendors are trying to push the embedding envelope beyond inquiries and decision points and into processes.

As Nigel Rayner, a Research VP at Gartner, explains, the vast majority of BI in place today is used by analysts, managers and others in a query and response mode. A modest amount of BI and analytics has been embedded at the point of decision, such as when a contact center agent is prompted to upsell a customer based on current and past actions. The next stage, he notes, is embedding BI into existing processes – your apps and your suppliers' and customers' apps are all informed by analytics into optimizing their processes.

"Today, 80 percent of embedded BI and analytics use is for inquiries, while 15 percent is for the point of decision and only 5 percent are embedded into processes," Rayner adds. "In five to 10 years, 60 percent will be in inquiry-based, 30 percent in point of decision and maybe 10 percent in processes."

Gartner recently released a case study about how UPS has embedded analytics into its driver routing. Those ubiquitous dumb terminals used by Big Brown truck drivers used to be programmed at the beginning of the day to provide the most efficient package delivery route. The next step, now in development, will constantly update the terminals with new information – emergency customer requests, traffic conditions, and other relevant factors.

Based on the UPS track record with prior versions of the "Package Flow" program, the financial benefits will be substantial – the last iteration reduced fuel consumption by 3 million gallons a year.

The beauty of this approach is that the embedding of the analytics won't require training truck drivers to understand regression analysis. All they will have to do is follow the driving directions.

Keep the UPS implementation in mind the next time you see or hear a new promotion for embedded analytics or BI.

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Tags: enterprise software, business intelligence, BI, analytics

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