Jan 062009

In the light of the hype over Web 2.0 this past year, I want to stress that organizations are making use of the techniques to improve the collaboration capabilities of their BI and business performance management initiatives. In fact, according to the results of our recent survey, slightly more than one-quarter of end-user organizations are currently using Web 2.0 techniques to support their BI users. This finding comes from a survey conducted in October 2008 of 85 end-user organizations based worldwide. It was designed to measure the extent that organizations are implementing various types of BI, data warehousing, and other analytic technologies and practices.

Specifically, survey participants were asked “Is your organization using blogs, wikis, or other ‘Web 2.0’ technologies to support its BI efforts/users with collaboration capabilities (e.g., to provide analysts, managers, and other users with the ability to share and discuss findings from analyses, reports, dashboards, etc.?” They responded as follows:

  • 26% said: “Yes”
  • 33% said: “No, but we plan to use them within the near future (i.e., within the next 12 months)
  • 37% said: “No, and we don’t foresee using them”
  • 4% said: “Don’t know”

In addition to those organizations already using Web 2.0 to support their BI environments, also note the strong interest among organizations in using the techniques in the near future. I believe these findings affirm a trend we saw in a similar survey we conducted last January, when approximately 20% of end-user organizations were using Web 2.0 techniques to support their business performance management efforts. In other words, Web 2.0 techniques have certainly made their way into the enterprise to support collaboration among analysts, managers, and other users of analytical and performance management applications.According to those organizations surveyed, the most popular Web 2.0 techniques currently used to support BI are wikis (used for online documentation, dictionaries, etc.), and blogs (for enhanced collaboration and reducing endless e-mails and sending of reports, etc.). Trailing a distant third and fourth are instant messaging (for collaboration and notification) and RSS feeds (for keeping up with new findings from reports, etc.). Social networks (for linking/associating employees with similar knowledge, experience, interests, or project involvement, etc.) rank fifth among organizations, followed by online videos (for training, instruction, etc.).

Honestly, I’m not all that surprised by our findings. This is because collaboration is key to business processes in general. Moreover, I believe that BI is especially well suited as a candidate for enhanced collaboration because of the need for BI end users and BI consumers to better communicate with their respective peers and colleagues. This need to collaborate covers the gamut of the BI process — from creating analyses and interpreting and discussing the significance of the results, to trying to determine the most effective way to apply the findings.

I admit that Web 2.0 has been overhyped (but these days, what new technology doesn’t get hyped?) and that this has resulted in an almost mystical quality being imparted to the technologies of which it’s comprised. But there is a key point to remember to avoid getting caught up in the squabble. That is, to focus on Web 2.0 in the enterprise as a new (open) collaboration model, the application of which should be to improve business performance via more open and richer communication and the widespread dissemination of ideas and knowledge throughout, and possibly beyond, the organization. In short, collaboration is king, and Web 2.0 in the enterprise is making an impact now.

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