Accuracy of BI Documents Found Wanting

Supporting critical decision-making requires improving consistency and trust.

Business decisions often require group interaction and the assemblage of data from multiple sources. The data often is both quantitative and discursive. Even though many companies create and update briefing books to aid decision-making, Ventana’s research shows that the users of these briefing books believe that they are not comprehensive enough. Further, they often distrust the accuracy and validity of the data in them. Ventana Research believes organizations must address the challenges of integrating business data and assuring users of its value.

Discussions about the use of business intelligence (BI) technology are based too often upon the assumption that the only thing that stands between a report and a good decision is a single user. In reality, decisions often are made jointly by a group of people. Such decisions are more complicated, typically involving information-sharing, joint brainstorming, consensus-building and joint decision-making. In addition, the information needed for these decisions often comes from multiple sources and includes not only tables and graphs but also documents consisting of text or unstructured data that interpret the numbers and describe recommendations.

Ventana Research recently conducted a survey of market challenges associated with the integration of BI and Microsoft Office, the popular business software suite. Our research found that 47 percent of the respondents said they were only somewhat satisfied with BI documents created by others, and 19 percent were very dissatisfied. Clearly, an opportunity exists to improve consumer satisfaction with BI documents.

The largest group of respondents cited lack of comprehensiveness as the leading source of their dissatisfaction with BI documents they received or used. The likely contributors to this perceived lack of comprehensiveness are an incomplete set of metrics for a particular business area, insufficient detail and insufficient explanation. Unfortunately, as knowledge workers continue to use the manual processes within Office to create BI documents and the volume of data imported into the Office authoring environment continues to increase, it appears that comprehensiveness will become even harder to assure in the future.

Respondents also cited other sources of dissatisfaction. In particular, 17 percent of them complained of being unable to trace data back to enterprise databases. The implication here is that readers may not trust the data they see in their BI documents. Addressing this issue—that is, increasing trust in available information—is likely to be a key success factor for streamlining decision-making processes.

Ventana Research believes that supporting the realities of modern corporate decision-making requires enterprise-wide integration of data. While ad-hoc data integration will help, organizations eventually must embrace an information architecture that is comprehensive across the enterprise. Data integration technologies, master data management strategies and standardization on common BI platforms, among other approaches, offer hope for doing so. Integration of Microsoft Office and BI technology should be a primary focus of this effort.

Ventana Research also believes that both BI document creators and consumers need mechanisms that will promote trust in information. IT organizations should track and publish data lineage information that details the sources, transformations, storage systems and other facets of data from origin to use. Time stamps should be used to indicate the freshness of data, so that executives making decisions in real time can be confident that the most recent available data underlies their decision. Ventana Research recommends that companies audit information-publishing workflows to guarantee consistency of task processes, data sources, data transformations and, eventually, presentations.

About Ventana Research
Ventana Research is the leading Performance Management research and advisory services firm.  By providing expert insight and detailed guidance, Ventana Research helps clients operate their companies more efficiently and effectively. These business improvements are delivered through a top-down approach that connects people, process, information and technology. What makes Ventana Research different from other analyst firms is a focus on Performance Management for finance, operations and IT. This focus, plus research as a foundation and reach into a community of over two million corporate executives through extensive media partnerships, allows Ventana Research to deliver a high-value, low-risk method for achieving optimal business performance. To learn how Ventana Research Performance Management workshops, assessments and advisory services can impact your bottom line, visit

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