It sounds like a simple problem, but one of the most significant challenges companies face with analytics and business intelligence is making insight discoverable to those who need to use it. If a company develops a BI or analytics initiative set to deliver enormous business value, little of the value will be realized if it does not make it in front of users. Knowledge management (KM) platforms should always be focused on the user experience and the people who need data to act.
Analytics KM is an important part of every organization but is rarely identified as such. As an organization’s data journey progresses, insight needs to be shared between different departments, teams, and individuals. An effective BI/Analytics portal can take on a different form for different companies. For smaller companies, it can be a simple means of making dashboards, reports and training available in one place. For larger companies, it can include more technologies and social elements to assist in overcoming siloes. In any case, it is the sharing and distribution of assets that enables the right data to get to the right people at the right time, with a minimum amount of friction.
Features of a Good Analytics/BI Portal
Many aspects of KM can be often vastly overlooked by organizations. One of the biggest issues is sharing information, and not having a system in place can be a serious problem. This can be more extreme for data assets, which often have huge investments behind them.
Analytics and BI have several nuances that may not be addressed by traditional KM solutions. Features of these solutions that are desirable include:
Support for multiple technologies is critical. The user should not need to care if a dashboard is built in QlikView, Tableau or PowerBI. They just need access to the insight therein. Beyond that should be the typical support for the usual file types like PowerPoints, PDFs, Word docs and video. The more embedded the better.
Integrating a feedback mechanism helps the more introverted users to get input on their work and can feed into the more iterative aspects of a process, such as the Enterprise Dashboard Process.
Incentivizing sharing of reports and dashboards can be accelerated by making contributions, that content curators make, more visible to the users of the portal.
Challenges and outcomes of analytics KM
Having multiple unconnected BI and reporting technologies is another hurdle for KM. In some ways, it’s an unavoidable consequence of a growing business. As departments grow and additional ones are created, knowledge gets stored differently and in different places. This allows systems to be layered upon other systems. A BI portal is central to getting the information all in one place, or at least accessible in one place.
Since knowledge can be dispersed across the company, a single location for all reports and dashboards is essential for basic company information sharing.
Using dashboards for analytics KM
Effective dashboards take complex data and simplify it for understanding at a quick glance. They are an important tool in analytics KM and serve to quickly share essential information and get everyone working on the same page. Dashboards are an excellent tool for getting a visual overview of dynamic information. They are able to integrate static data from spreadsheets, and their strength is in presenting information in real time.
Simplicity in dashboard design is deceptively difficult to accomplish. A best practice when designing the layout is to keep returning to the central question: What problem do we need to solve? And what specific data do we need to make a knowledgeable decision? If you stay focused on those questions, most pitfalls of over-designing can be avoided.
Also, a dashboard as part of an overall KM system needs to be discoverable. If not, then money, time, and effort has been wasted.
Getting the most out of your analytics
No two companies are exactly alike or have the same needs. In addition, as companies grow and change so should their KM system. Company performance ultimately depends on the performance of its parts and how they can communicate with each other. Sharing internal knowledge creates cooperation within an organization.
Remember, it’s about sharing analytical knowledge and concentrating on organizational objectives. Analytics knowledge management should be focused on good user adoption and change management. With a good system in place, employees can spend less time looking for information (and sometimes never finding it) and more time using that knowledge to be more efficient and productive.
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