Flexible Information Delivery – FID, for short (Part I)
In any business intelligence system there are ultimately two objectives, the collection and management of information and the delivery of that information. Assuming we can tackle the collection and management of information (okay – this is a big leap, but for the purposes of this post we’ll assume that), we are faced with providing access to the information in our business intelligence system.
We know there are many types of users in many different roles that will need to use the information. Even an individual user may need the information delivered using different delivery methods based on both the type and purpose of that information. Within each of the different delivery methods we want to make sure a user sees the same numbers, in the same terminology and that security to the information is applied in a consistent fashion.
Let’s take a regional manager on any given day. He may want to see a flash of yesterday’s activity along with month- and year-to-date performance for his region. He may be on the road or in the office. Our regional manager may also want to be alerted to potential customer issues. Upon review of the flash or the alerts he may want to dig a little further into the information to get a handle on the problem areas.
In this scenario we need to provide information access to one person in multiple ways. For the flash report we might provide a daily report via email or we may want to provide that same information via an interactive dashboard. For the alert we want to provide a single email showing all of the customers with products on order that we may not have in stock, or all the customer/product line combinations that have shown multiple periods of declining sales. Finally, for the analysis, we want to be able to provide drill-down and slice-and-dice capabilities. Oh, and by the way our regional manager might be doing this from his laptop or his iPad.
Now let’s look at some of the users that our regional manager may contact about the information he’s discovered in his information travels. He contacts his sales analyst to dig into the details of his findings. The analyst is skilled at the analysis of information using many of the different — and more advanced — features of an analytical tool. Our regional manager also contacts a couple of his sales reps to get their thoughts on specific customers in their territories. The sales reps need to easily get to information without having to take a lot of time or use the advanced functions of an analytical tool. They, too, have probably been alerted to specific customer situations via email.
This scenario is probably not that farfetched for a CPG company and similar situations around finance, merchandising, supply chain and other areas can easily be constructed. One of the keys to everyone having a clear understanding, a definitive action plan if needed, and all information presented in a timely fashion is called FID — or Flexible Information Delivery. At Silvon, this does not just mean that information is delivered a bunch of different ways.
FID is a means for providing access to a single version of the truth that everyone references so that regardless of how the information is delivered, it is consistent and accurate.
FID is a strategy that can be employed to allow the right type of access for different roles and different needs. With FID, adoption of a business intelligence solution can be extended to users regardless of their skill level and role.
In my next post, I’ll discuss some of the information delivery methods that Silvon provides as examples that you may want to consider for FID in your enterprise.