Synergy: Business Intelligence Communities of Practice & Learn 2.0 Strategies

Corporate e-learning is not a new concept in the workplace but strategies must evolve to keep up with the increasing proliferation of web 2.0 technologies. (Berry and Moore, 2008). Corporations are moving to leverage from the latest technological advances and in so doing are shifting to a Learn 2.0 paradigm. Learn 2.0 is adding to the long established benefits of e-learning of reduced costs, learning on demand, and formal training assessments by facilitating new opportunities for corporate community collaboration, knowledge construction, and peer assessments. These new benefits have a lot of value to the community of learners that make up the Business Intelligence Community of Practice (CoP).

The BI CoP instructional designer can leverage from the Corporate Learning Management System (LMS) to develop re-usable learning objects and by using learn 2.0 strategies can enlist the community to personalize training by developing microcontent thereby keeping information current, soliciting ongoing feedback, and building stronger relationships using internal forums, wikis, and expert blogs. (Bersin, 2007).

To gain the most in synergistic effects, the social network of learning can and should extend outside the corporate walls to take advantage of the expanded learning community that social networking affords. For example LinkedIn has evolved into a wealth of knowledge content with groups such as the Business Intelligence Group, The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), and Visual Analytics, all with on-going discussions where knowledgeable experts weigh in on the latest problems posted by their peers. RRS feeds and Twitter links provide additional content and integration across applications. Embarking on a shift to Learn 2.0 can be done well when following an established model like the one developed by Joost & Yap (2010). Their model describes how workplaces can take advantage of the social technologies to engage employees, build relationships, and enhance learning.

References:

Berry, K. & Moore, D. (2008). IBM virtual education center. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2008 (pp. 602-606). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from http://www.editlib.org/p/29668.

Bersin, J. (2007). Top trends in e-learning and corporate training. HR Magazine. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from: http://www.hrmreport.com/article/Top-trends-in-e-learning-and-corporate-training/

Robben, Joost & Yap, Robin (2010). A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments. Proceedings of Network Learning Conference 2010. Lancaster, UK, Retrieved Feb. 27, 2011 from http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Yap.pdf

BI vs BA

In Unplugged, a recent article in the Information Management Magazine, George Shen asks whether Business Analytics (BA) is overtaking Business Intelligence (BI). This question seems only poised to get our attention because what Shen is really promoting is the need for an analytics oriented BI architecture that would incorporate better advanced analytics and modeling. I don’t think he’ll find too much opposition to that pitch. However, I do see a problem with the placement of the Advanced Analytics before the business semantic metadata layer. Shen is clearly not unaware of the problems with data cleanliness nor is he a stranger to the challenge of more user friendly design. However, in the article I don’t see a connection between these two problems and the need for a well developed business semantic layer or an indication that the layer is required to be accessed by the advanced analytics tools. Shen places BA beneath the semantic layer and only shows a push upwards. The other problem with the architecture diagram is the lack of emphasis on data that is external to the corporation. Even though Shen discusses examples of valuable data available outside the corporation he does not show how this would be incorporated into the architecture.

I like Shen’s statement “BA needs to be integrated and embedded in business process to be effective”. Too often we see that this is not the case and training for Business Analytics is divorced from the business process. Business Intelligence systems are often a very small percentage of the budget of a much larger ERP project and as such is treated much like an after thought. To compound the problem training is often treated as an IT function and provided as ‘systems training’ with an emphasis on standard reporting. There is often very little done to make the learning experience authentic by situating it within the current business process and relating it directly to real business problems. While I agree with Shen that the BI vendors need to step it up a notch in terms of their offerings and integration of advanced analytics, I think there’s an even bigger problem with the typical BI training approach.