Software // Information Management
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8/28/2007
09:25 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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Of BI, Crème Brulee and Chocolate Mousse

Just back from vacation in France and was wowed by something unexpected: BI for waiters! When the waiter showed up to take our order, he wielded a kind of pen-computing/Palm device, not a pad of paper. I had never seen this before - at least not in NYC-area restaurants. At my enthusiasm, the waiter proudly declared "C'est nouveau!"… "it's new!" Imagine the possibilities: When I order mousse au chocolat and it's sold out, the waiter can proactively recommend an available alternative - cr

Just back from vacation in France and was wowed by something unexpected - BI for waiters! (though the wine impressed me too).

When the waiter showed up to take our order, he wielded a kind of pen-computing/Palm device, not a pad of paper. I had never seen this before - at least not in NYC-area restaurants. At my enthusiasm, the waiter proudly declared "C'est nouveau!"… "it's new!"

Imagine the possibilities: When I order mousse au chocolat and it's sold out, the waiter can proactively recommend an available alternative - crème brulee (not escargot).Whether or not his new device was yet smart enough to do this was not clear to me, but it's certainly the direction his restaurant was moving in. The waiter benefits from not wasting time checking with the kitchen on what's still available, ensuring better customer service and bringing higher tips. The restaurant benefits from increased sales of available menu items and less food waste at the end of the day.

BI for such front-line workers is still in its infancy. Survey results from my upcoming book, Successful Business Intelligence, confirms what many already complain about: Front-line workers are currently the most under-served by BI. Technical innovations (like the waiter's pen device) solve only part of the problem. It's up to BI professionals to recognize how BI can be creatively applied to operational decisions.

For inspiration on bringing BI to front-line workers, Smart Enough Systems, by Neil Raden and James Taylor, is a must read. The authors clearly illuminate the value of automating operational decisions and describe approaches on how to architect solutions. The book delves into why flexibility and user control in the decision rules is so important to sustaining these systems. (Crème brulee may be the alternative today, and tomorrow it may be chocolate éclair).

How are you delivering BI for your front-line workers? Have you even thought about it? Meanwhile, I'm trying to get re-accustomed to a breakfast of bagels rather than pain au chocolate. Yes, in addition to BI, food is one of my passions :).

Sincerely,

Cindi Howson, Founder, BIScorecard, a Web site for in-depth BI product reviews.Just back from vacation in France and was wowed by something unexpected: BI for waiters! When the waiter showed up to take our order, he wielded a kind of pen-computing/Palm device, not a pad of paper. I had never seen this before - at least not in NYC-area restaurants. At my enthusiasm, the waiter proudly declared "C'est nouveau!"… "it's new!" Imagine the possibilities: When I order mousse au chocolat and it's sold out, the waiter can proactively recommend an available alternative - crème brulee (not escargot).

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