Seeing excitement in people’s eyes, watching them high-five each other and practically yell “This is so cool” after looking at data is awesome. One doctor at Seattle Children’s said, “I learned more in 5 minutes than in the last 5 years.” I’ve never seen people so excited about data, it is very cool. I am honored to be speaking at the Cool BI Forum, a part of the TDWI World Conference in Chicago on May 7th with Drex DeFord, the CIO at Seattle Children’s (my former boss). We worked hard to deliver great value to help improve care to patients and families, but no one ever called us cool. I mean, we think we’re cool, but, what is Cool BI?
An excited, engaged user making fact-based decisions is Cool BI. Delivering better, faster and more interactive information makes people excited. BI at Children’s wasn’t always cool though, despite a robust Knowledge Management team that worked hard every day to meet the information needs of our partners, the clinicians, directors, managers and executives who do so much to care for patients and families. We had a well thought out BI strategy, various tools and a team in place to deliver but getting information in the hands of users who need it to make decisions often took too long and was too expensive. The traditional approach to BI, gathering requirements, writing technical specifications, designing and building a solution often took weeks or months before end-users could make actionable decisions. Inevitably one solution would drive more questions and the clock started over. Despite everyone’s best efforts, business users couldn’t make actionable decisions. This was definitely not cool BI.
What did we do to become cool? We changed the way BI is delivered to the organization. The first step was introducing data visualization capability from Tableau Software. Adding Tableau helped augment our BI strategy by helping our end users interact with their data and develop answers to their own questions. While they were off building solutions, we were able to focus on building the back end data warehouse infrastructure to make them more successful. The combination of great tools, a great team and a desire to be more data driven combined into a cool solution.
We had many challenges along the way, and in our talk at the Cool BI Forum, we will talk about the road we took to get there. Between now and then, I will be publishing some summary anecdotes addressing some of the questions and obstacles we faced along the way.
Check back and see how we made users fist-pumping excited about BI. Or come to Chicago and see our presentation.