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What Does Web 2.0 Really Mean for BI’s Future? December 3, 2007

Posted by Cyril Brookes in Enterprise 2.0, General, Web 2.0.

Will the My Spacers really act differently from us oldies when it comes to collaborate time? No doubt, like, My Space, Facebook etc. are great, like. Everybody uses them, like. Sadly, most of us could have built them instead of working on far less remunerative activities, like. Ah well, life is naught but missed opportunities, like!

But I diverge, like!

BI is about helping businesses perform better, that is, producing better numbers. Successful BI enables the executives and professionals to make better decisions. Although touchy feely, warm and cozy, can help with the collaboration and teamwork, they’re not the end results we’re after – it’s better decisions, made right time, right place. This implies the business has instrumentation and metrics. And metrics invariably come down to numbers.

Therefore, BI is a numbers play; presenting them, assisting their assessment, finding issues hidden in them, empowering action to resolve issues, and sometimes automating them. There will always be numbers in corporate BI.

Web 2.0’s contribution to corporate BI isn’t related to collection, storing, and disseminating numbers though. It can’t be because it’s social, and social isn’t numeric. Web 2.0 is about making sense of situations, finding people with similar interests, sharing experiences, and (my hobby horse) creating knowledge from tacit resources inside people’s heads.

For BI, the critical element, Dear Reader, is that Web 2.0 enables collaborative commenting and assessing significance of facts – especially numbers that may or may not be important.

Therefore, Web 2.0 will play a vital, but subsidiary, support role in BI; it’s not the main event. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, just that it will be a secondary design, something built to enhance the numeric reporting.

I’ve opined before that Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0, especially Wiki’s, are much more appropriate BI facilitators than My Space style stuff; they are really a clever innovation with big BI implications. I’m not sure how a corporate My Space would play out in the longer term. There’s heaps of scope for embarrassment.

To ask the hard question; will the My Spacers more readily use collaborative tools than our generation? I know they’ve had different growing up environments;Mark Madsen has spelt that out for us.

Certainly, the new generation of My Spacers will be familiar with online collaboration. Will this translate to sharing information and knowledge that could come back to bite them? I think not. Whatever the new generation is, it’s not stupid!

Will messengers with bad tidings stop getting shot? Not likely. Tall poppies lose their heads, now and will always.

Will young realtor agents start sharing prospects and potential for-sale properties with colleagues – with the risk that this knowledge will give the others a benefit? Of course not, that would be irrational.

Will project team ingénues blow the whistle on a bad manager, or will they respect team solidarity? Solidarity will surely remain dominant.

I think that the My Spacers will be just like employees are today; they’ll be most circumspect when it comes to collaboration that could be risky to their careers; such as publicizing a rumor that could be wrong, but if correct would be very important to the business. They won’t take that risk.

However, they will be much more ready to participate in corporate collaborative activity (Wikis if you will) that is:

  • peer level,
  • peer driven, and
  • allows each person’s contribution to be recognized.

Further, the mash-up concept that links hard data to soft data – the numbers with the opinions, assessments, will work well with fresh brains and lower inhibition thresholds.

Summarizing, Web 2.0 capability and experience will lead to a more collaborative local workplace, but self-interest will ensure the corporate wide, more strategic, cultural barriers remain. Sidere mens eadem mutato: but here the “stars” will be the My Spacers, not the oldies!