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Information networks and business intelligence - decision locus and political hotbed

In this module's case, you're going to explore some of what passes for conventional wisdom in the domain of business intelligence application, probably noting in passing that first, much of the advice may be contradictory although delivered with great passion and enthusiasm, and second, most of it manages to avoid any real confrontation with traditional management structures and decision procedures and priorities, concentrating instead on ways of manipulating information to presumably work around the organization rather than allow itself to point out shortcomings in the organizations themselves. This is not a course primarily about organizational politics -- there is plenty of time in the rest of your program to come to terms with the old reptilian sub-brains of the organization that perpetuate power differentials, reward distributions only vaguely related to organizational priorities, suboptimization of organizational resource utilization, and all of the other weirdnesses that pretty much guarantee performance and satisfaction shortfalls and failures. But, as you may have surmised, even though it's not our main focus it is the key subtext for all these issues. Unless we openly acknowledge that decisions are largely political (in either the organizational or national sense) and that information is often more useful as a cloak for political priorities than as a substitute for them, the only ones we're going to fool are ourselves.

The Business Intelligence Guide website is a gold mine of useful information about BI specifically. Read some of the overview articles (they're short), to generally familiarize yourself with BI terminology:

Electrosmart Ltd. (2011) The Business Intelligence Guide. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from Recommended sections include:

BI Best Practices.

BI Solutions.

BI Drivers.

BI Barriers.

Getting Started in BI.

But feel free to follow up in any other sections that you believe will help you address the case.

Now let's look at two specific cases of BI implementation. Remember, these cases were written by the companies supplying the "solutions", so read carefully and if possible between the lines:

Konitzer, K. and Cummens, M. (2011) CASE STUDY - Using Analytics to Improve Patient Outcomes and Billing Accuracy at Marshfield Clinic. TDWI. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from

Microsoft Inc. (2011) Exclusive Resorts, LLC Destination Club Generates Rapid ROI, Enhances Services, Takes Control of Business. Microsoft Case Studies. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from

There's a lot more out there in the optional and supplemental readings as well as the wide wonderful world of the Internet to give you a feel for what's working and what's not in this area; the more widely you can spread your own information gathering net, the more effective your analysis is likely to be.

Lessons to be learned from the Clinic and Resort cases about creating, implementing, and using business intelligence

Remember, BI is a complex socio-technical innovation, so thinking about the question in socio-technical terms is likely to be of some value to you.


Solution Preview

The most important lessons learned is to analyze your business and its needs and make sure the software chosen both provides for those needs and is compatible with current programs. The ability to train and how this training is addressed is important. In the clinic, the training was offered as a train to the trainer program. Training for people using the programs is vital if the changes and upgrades are to provide value, both in ROI and the use for the expected purposes. Reporting, access to data for use, and determining the best use of the data are all important.

Looking at the BI choice of the clinic, they were in need of something that was not only accessible, but accessible quickly and understandable in delivery. The implementation had to work across data needs and locations (50 in this case) and accessible in all these locations. The best use was by doctors, though it could be used for gathering information and storing it, by nurses, such as blood pressure, blood ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines decision locus and political hotbed for information networks.