A business intelligence system looks very complicated (see below). It's filled with legacy data, processes to extract and massage data, a new data warehouse to hold consistent and integrated data, and, for decision makers, a variety of user interfaces including summary and exception reports, analytic tools, ad hoc query, and graphical dashboards.
Building this interconnected system requires the following steps, not necessarily in this order:
What is Business Intelligence (BI)?
Business intelligence. Is that an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or clean coal? It is more commonplace that you might expect. Business intelligence (BI) is a set of software applications used by managers and analysts to explore their internal data to support business decision making, whether that is seeking business opportunities, internal inefficiencies, or operational problems. It covers the range of systems from the simple to the complex, from downloaded data in Excel that creates a summary report for one manager, to a server farm running specialized ad hoc query and visualization software that support thousands of store managers for Starbucks.
Would you like fries with that order?
Imagine you are at a Big Box store in the electronics department and you overhear a salesperson talking to a customer,
"That's a great flat-screen TV. Shall I add an extended 3 year service contract for $149 ?"
That is the classic example of an up-sell, introduced as you purchase new electronics.
Instead buyers often agree to a lower-priced offer, such as a 1-year service contract for only $39, technically a down-sell. However, it costs the seller almost nothing and provides a large profit margin. Most electronics failures occur within the normal warranty period, which are covered by the manufacturer. (Kushner, 2012)
How well integrated are your front-end and back-end systems?
Best Buy sold lots of electronics on-line during the 2011 holiday season, but could not fulfill all
those orders. (December 2011 revenue $8.4 billion). The reason? Botched inventory management (Bogenrief, 2012). Customers were further angered when they were told of this shortage just one week before Christmas. Sorry kids, the elves couldn't build all the Wii's that Santa promised. That kind of disappointment leaves a lasting impression on shoppers. It's no wonder Best Buy is considered a takeover target.
"Management is a series of interruptions interrupted by interruptions"
- sign on the door of my first boss at Bell Labs
John B Smelcer, MBA, PhD
Interruptions reduce our productivity and give us less time to get work done. Individuals can take charge of their own environment, disabling technology and telling co-workers "Do Not Disturb." Managers can also reduce needless interruptions by organizing the larger work environment and encouraging a culture of focused time alternating with collaboration time.
Persuasion techniques include scarcity and social proof
Yesterday I was at the grocery store shopping for necessities, under strict command to buy "just what's on the list". As I walked by the peanut butter shelf, I saw one last jar of Smucker's creamy peanut butter. Not on the list, but I bought it anyway. What's going on here? Fear of running out? No, we had a full jar at home. Righteous independence? Maybe. Scarcity? Definitely.
Pass on lower shipping costs to boost sales
If you experience high abandonment rates due to high shipping costs, perhaps you are paying too much for inventory shipments. Do not believe that UPS always has the lowest rates. Next day delivery does not always have to go by air. Expand your options and make the shippers compete. You will save money, as will your customers, and they'll reward you with their business.
Early testing can free up resources for additional rounds of testing later, and still stay within the project's budget.
John B Smelcer, MBA, PhD
"Vote early – and vote often" – William Hale Thompson, former Mayor of Chicago
In Chicago during elections, they say "Vote Early and Vote Often." We will hear this often during next Tuesday's contest, and the winners will all claim the election a victory for the people.
User experience designers also want a victory for the people, and it also requires involving more people more often in the feedback process. More feedback means a more productive, usable, and successful information system (or website or app).
Far too common, but you can reduce it
Brick and mortar shoppers rarely abandon their shopping carts. On-line, this occurs frequently. High shipping costs are the single biggest reason for abandoning a shopping cart on-line, mentioned by 44% of shoppers. Another 28% complain that the site did not mention shipping costs or had slow shipping (Khalid, 2012).
Our clients have significantly reduced abandonment and increased checkout rates by using several techniques:
Regardless of your deployment decision today, it will change tomorrow.
by John B Smelcer, MBA, PhD
A client is considering converting a desktop application to the web. Creating web applications for instantaneous deployment and universal access is very popular. But are there business considerations, given the types of tasks completed by users and their limited access to the Internet?
Web applications mean effortless deployment. IT managers love this because updating hundreds or thousands of PCs when a new version of desktop software comes out can be a major headache. Conversely, web applications are automatically updated when users refresh their browser. For users, web applications mean that software is universally available, whether at the office, at home, or on the road. With data stored in the cloud, there is hardly any need to worry about where the data is.