Frontline workers not getting enough BI: Survey

Executives and managers are awash in business intelligence information, but the benefits of analytics tools are barely trickling down to frontline workers, according to a recent survey.

As many as 75 per cent of the respondents said they believe in the value of aligning data gathering to strategic goals and daily operations. However, less than 60 per cent of placed significant importance on extending data access to operational workers, according to results of a survey conducted by International Data Group (IDG) for software maker Information Builders.
Only 50 per cent said sharing data with customers was of significant importance, and less than one-third said sharing key information with external partners and suppliers was necessary.
The survey also found that as many as 30 per cent of operational employees are not involved in BI activities such as consuming and reviewing reports, investigating data trends and others.


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IDG queried 401 business decision-makers, IT professionals, knowledge workers and operational employees in large and medium-sized firms in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. The poll was carried out in May of this year.
“Enterprise data has a multiplier effect, in that its value grows exponentially when it is shared with numerous groups,” according to Gerald Cohen, president of Information Builders.”Our research indicates that while organizations understand this concept in theory, they are failing to execute it by withholding data from operational employees and other key stakeholders.”

This is very unfortunate, according to Jake Freivald, vice-president of corporate marketing for the software maker. For instance, he said, frontline workers are often in direct contact with customers and have the opportunity to provide clients better service and experience with the company if they have appropriate customer or account information on hand.

Organizations also stand to benefit in areas such as smoother coordination and product delivery by judiciously sharing key BI data with partners and suppliers, he said.

“Customers, when provided appropriate visibility into products and services or their own accounts, will likely develop stronger rapport and trust with their provider,” said Freivald.

The top roadblocks limiting the deployment of BI are:

  • Data quality and reliability (39 per cent)
  • Internal politics or organizational culture (29 per cent)
  • Technological challenges (38 per cent)
  • Concerns about cost of technology investments (34 per cent)

When asked which approach would deliver a better user experience and more adoption of BI tools with less training, 55 per cent of respondents chose “powerful analytic tools used to perform ad hoc analysis” while 45 per cent selected “an app store experience with a selection of information apps to answer business questions with point-and-click.”

“This suggests that firms still view information management from the perspective of knowledge workers and other data intensive roles,” said Freivald. “A better alternative is to use tools that will sift through big data and deliver BI pervasively to all employees, external partners and even customers in the context that they will understand and find useful.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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