'Social networking' and 'Collaboration' have become a part of our lives in this connected world. Let us see how the two can work together in helping us make better decisions.

‘Social networking’ has been a growing phenomenon in the past 2-3 years. The society that we live in has almost suddenly become very ‘social’ and all issues of privacy have almost disappeared. People want to share information about their private life (family, jobs, hobbies, etc.) and have more ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ than ever before. With the advent of mobile computing, the urge to share anything, anywhere and anytime has taken off beyond limits.

‘Collaboration’ on the other hand, has been in existence for a long time with people wanting to share their documents and content using tools like document repositories, email, web/video/voice conferencing, online groups, etc. People participate in forums and groups, share ideas, contribute and work towards achieving common goals.  Collaboration has been pervasive in areas of document sharing (like sharepoint) and video conferencing (like webex) but hasn’t really taken off in the area of our current interest…BI. Collaboration in BI is currently mostly limited to sharing reports on a web portal or through emails. How many of you have seen reports that are developed in a ‘collaborative’ environment or shared with multiple consumers for collaborative decision-making?

This new age can see ‘Social networking’ and ‘collaboration’ come together and provide a platform that is more powerful than ever.  Enterprises want to make use of this powerful platform to not only develop and share the reports through collaboration, but also seek advice, set departmental and corporate priorities, influence outcomes and ensure that every decision made has consensus and approval at the same time.  Collaborative BI software like Arcplan Engage and Lyzasoft are taking a lead in this area of unmet needs.

Most of us already use social networking platforms and get that concept very well. We know how to share our ideas and how to ‘like’, ‘follow’ and ‘rate’. The idea of instant validation of ideas through your network helps in refining your ideas even further.  The same concept is applied to BI. Reports are developed by users, shared with colleagues/managers on a this collaborative platform, advice/feedback sought using the social networking features, changes/suggestions incorporated, analysis and decisions made through consensus….could life of an analyst be any better? Add ‘context awareness’ to the mix and you will find data/reports that are relevant to what you are looking for with probably no need for re-writing queries/reports.

collaboration

Though this concept has been around for a couple of years, it hasn’t really caught on with majority of enterprises. Reasons could vary from the traditional mindset of ownership of data/reports to sense of independent decision-making.  It will be a while before the BI user comes of age. Mobile computing and social networking are making ‘Collaborative BI’ more exciting and I hope this new platform will drive efficiency and effectiveness in decision-making.