Next Level Business Intelligence: Embedded Analytics

All analytics are not created equally. Understanding this fact is the first step in taking any business to the next level, as all businesses use some form of analytics. Whether they’re using manual systems, spreadsheets, traditional reports, or business intelligence, owners and managers always have questions about their business, and are continually searching for answers.

In recent years, most businesses have come to realize that the answers they need can’t readily be found in spreadsheets. Enter business intelligence: eliminating the legwork and research necessitated by spreadsheets and providing streaming, actionable information from corporate databases directly to a visualizer that is easy to read, understand, and retain.

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Predictably, many businesses are looking for the next competitive edge as more and more firms discard their spreadsheets in favor of business intelligence. Enter embedded analytics: analytics that are directly tied to an organization’s business processes. To understand the power of embedded analytics, let’s take a look at the Hawthorne Effect.

The Hawthorne Works was a massive Western Electric factory complex in Cicero, Illinois. A center of industrial manufacturing in the U.S. in the early 20th century, the factory was the site of well-known industrial studies, one of which sought to examine the effect of factory lighting levels on worker performance. While it was assumed that brighter light levels would boost performance, the opposite effect was observed.

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As they experimented with lower light levels, the volume of work increased until they were seeing record levels of production in near total darkness. The initial head scratching gave way to the realization that it wasn’t the lighting that was boosting performance. The workers were simply performing at a high level because they were aware that they were being observed.

Embedded analytics have precisely the same effect in any production setting. When analytics are directly connected to business processes organization-wide, the change in behavior is as pervasive and profound as the Hawthorne Effect. Beyond the mere fact that personnel respond to being observed, embedded analytics will inherently change the way people think about their work. Instead of being focused solely on individual tasks specific to their work segment, embedded analytics provide a clear view of departmental and corporate goals, and how individual and overall performance is measuring up in real time.

Once employees connect their individual performance to departmental or corporate goals, they immediately become more effective. They begin with the end in mind, and will reflexively begin to prioritize their work. Moving from a task oriented mindset to one that is goal oriented is a fundamental shift from reactive to proactive. Workers have more energy, they carry much more information in active memory, and become more dynamic thinkers. In this state, employees are simply more successful. And it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that this mode of thinking is habit forming, and can bring increased effectiveness and success into their day-to-day lives as well.

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