What is Embedded BI?

This morning I went out of the house at exactly 6:59, ran down the hill and quickly across the road to arrive at the bus stop just about the same time as the bus.   I jumped on catching my breath, sat down and switched on my iPhone (this is a great thing about taking the bus to work, I get 12 minutes sitting reading, checking email or whatever rather than 12 minutes driving the car).  As I glanced at facebook I saw a status from Debra Lilley that was interesting enough get me thinking, even at 7am in the morning.

Deborah

I applied the embedded BI concept to my habitual tardiness and I liked the analogy, so rather than write 500 words on a facebook status, I decided to put my thoughts in a blog post.  Here goes…

My operational activity is getting out of bed, ready for work, maybe doing some work/checking mails, maybe having breakfast, maybe getting kids dressed and finally I walk out of the door to jump on a bus to the office.

My traditional BI world is looking back on a week and wondering why I missed the bus three times, what impact that had on my life and how I might take some corrective action.  I may determine it takes 6 minutes to walk to the bus stop or 4 minutes if I run a little.  Maybe I notice that on two occasions the bus left 1 minute early and that was why I missed it.  I might analyze decide that for the next week I will set all the clocks in the house 1 minute fast, that way I should arrive at the bus stop 1 minute early and that ought to prevent me missing two buses a week that arrive early and make a huge difference to my punctuality and effectiveness in morning meetings.

Now as anybody who has tried setting clocks forward in order to trick themselves into leaving earlier and so preventing occurrences of tardiness will testify, it doesn’t work.  You look at the clock showing 6:50am and mentally subtract a minute and figure you have time for one more slice of toast if you eat it fast and then run a little.

So how is embedded BI going to help me more?  (I am getting to the point soon, I hope you’re still reading) Well the BI I get needs to embedded into my operational world and help me make better decisions in real time.  In order to do that I would need it to be relevant, timely and actionable.  Let’s look at these three three items in teh context of an example – I am considering eating one more slice of toast at 6:50, my next bus is at 7:05, the one after that at 7:40, the bus journey takes 12 minutes, then I have a 5 minute walk and I need to be at my desk at 8am to host a Web Conference, the fare is $2 and I only have a $20 bill in my pocket.

Timely – This is easy, I need information before I put the toast in the toaster.  If it comes after I put the toast in the toaster but before I start eating it then I might still get my bus but have to leave the toast behind and wasted.  If I get it even later I may miss my bus.  As you can see the later in the task I get the information the worse the result is.

Relevant – I don’t want generic information on my bus catching/missing history over the last 12 months.  I want to know how often does having a slice of toast 15 minutes before my bus is due causes me to miss my bus. Some information about how often the 7:05 bus arrives early would help too.

Actionable – In my bus example the action is pretty much down to me, I get up from the table and head out of the door, the action is in my own hands.  One action I might need to take is to break my $20 bill to make sure I have the correct change for the bus fare, embedded BI would remind me of this and might even present the alternative option of borrowing $2 in change from my 5 year old’s money box (A further action might be to remind me when I get home to pay it back)

The example I am using is fairly trivial and most people would tell me to just arrive 5 minutes early all the time to be sure of catching the bus.  However in business the decisions are much more important and the results translate into operational efficiencies, less mistakes, higher productivity, higher sales, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction better profits all those good things.

So that was my attempt to explain how I see embedded BI.  Agree, disagree or otherwise express your thoughts in the comments section below.

9 Responses

  1. Thank you David for the recognition. My posting was about a specific life event and I was thinking of it in IT terms,so could to see you expand on it.

    As for what I think of your example, yes it is trivial and the 5 minutes to make sure not an issue but in a business the amount of ‘effort’ to make sure of something is substanial and embedded BI could cut that thus saving time and resources.

    As for your bus , buy a bicycle and then you don’t have to rely on another process

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    • Debra,
      I think through trivial examples all the time and apply concepts from work into my everyday life. It is a sign of either a very active and creative mind, or somebody with too much time on their hands. Maybe a little of both!

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  2. Hi All,

    Its a very good topic to discuss upon and there is no limit to it…. In my my opinion Embedded BI is that very extra information which is not part of the application flow and which you can provide to the end users in a very fancy way.
    For examples you have a concept of widgets if you guys are using Windows Vista version. Now end user has a control on the widgets and they can decide as what all info they should see in the application in the form of widgets.

    Similarly how about having the same concept in the application softwares like Oracle Apps….where there are pre-seeded plugins or widgets which will tell me as how my balances will look like if I post the selected Journal or Batch OR how many Journals across the currency are pending with me for Posting…:)

    This way I dont need to have that extra resources like OBIEE Dashboard OR BI Publisher OR Discoverer to get the fancy report or information or data for me.

    This is going to be very powerful concept in the coming years.

    Cheers,
    Kamal Chopra

    Like

    • Kamal

      Thanks for your considered insight. I agree this will be a powerful concept, as you say placing it right there where i need it without having to go away from my flow and look to other BI resources is the key. The challenge is to determine what information we provide and how we allow users to customize it to their needs.

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  3. glad to see you blogging again David. I’m also glad to see that I’m not the only one who seems to find the biggest commute jams to be about getting to the door in the morning, not necessarily what exists on the road.

    -Meg

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  4. Excellent blog. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Great anology to real life usage.

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  5. [...] what do we mean by Embedded Business Intelligence (BI).  I normally answer it with reference to a blog post I wrote inspired by an Oracle Ace Debra [...]

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  6. [...] like a marketing release, I wasn’t speakingin my own ‘voice’.  So I reworked an example I used here a while ago and I felt got my point across and it’s now a very personal post, drawing on my [...]

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  7. [...] first blogged on this topic back in early 2010, then later introduced it in a guest post on Steve Miranda’s Oracle Applications blog and [...]

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