For years, one of the biggest gripes in organisations has been the stubbornly low user adoption of Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, averaging 10% - 20% in most companies. Increasing user adoption To try and fix the low user adoption, we put ourselves in the users' shoes and asked ourselves a tough question: * "So, data geeks are finding BI useful, but so what? Are we explaining why it is mission-critical and how it can add value to the business?" But when we found the right use cases showing the absolute need for BI in a 'data-gone-mad world', little had changed. We were forced to move on to the next question: * "So, the business is buying into BI, but are we really helping them if non-IT users don't have the right skills and tools to use BI?" Maddeningly, things were no better. So, we asked ourselves the best question yet: * "Most of the industry gets that you must present data to operations in dashboards and to middle management in reports, but do executives have time for any of that?" We fixed that problem with executive storyboards, but then the hardest issue of all came up: * "Everyone likes BI and can pull up the required dashboard or report themselves. But what are they really doing with the information, and why are they not coming back for more?" Collaborative BI - the missing link This could be the break-through question, because it reveals the true nature of the problem - lack of user engagement. It's not good enough for a BI tool just to deliver value if it doesn't keep drawing users in with valuable insights and engagement mechanisms and has no connection to the consequences of its findings. In other words, user adoption can only increase if BI tools involve users in doing more than just querying data and consuming intelligence in the view of their choice. The tools of tomorrow must have a collaborative, task-based approach to succeed. What is collaborative BI? Collaborative BI merges business intelligence software with collaboration tools, including social and Web 2.0 technologies, to support improved data-driven decision-making. As TechTarget points out, collaborative BI makes data sharing easier and enables more efficient decision-making among team members who may have been working alone to reach conclusions. "Compared to more solitary, conclusion-based traditional BI tools, collaborative BI emphasises the problem-solving process to unlock efficiencies, benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of peers and scale efforts." BI tools in question allow organisational peers to analyse data and exchange information and ideas through comments and smart-tasks, which support brainstorming through social networking-like features including comments and annotations. For time-starved workers who just don't get around to using the BI platform, proactive alerts, team-based broadcasting of reports and subscription reporting keep them on top of important shifts in organisational data. Smart tasks automatically assign actions when data variances demand it. Why collaborate on BI? From an end user organisation's perspective, BI tools that promote sharing and discussion improves organisational IQ and drives smarter collective decision-making. From the industry's point of view, being sure decisions are not just supported but implemented continually closes the loop between seeing, doing, tracking, assessing and iterating. And when that is in place, BI can finally say it has guided the user through the entire analytics journey - from information to insight and action - which is the only way to ultimately ensure BI's widespread adoption. It could be the win-win the industry and user base have been looking for.

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