What to do? The need for detailed analytics capability is on the rise across the length and breadth of the organisation and the resource is limited. With the advent of the Open Data Platform (ODP) built on the QlikView technology and our App Centre now being live we have been able to implement the concept that we call Open Source Analytics.

But what is it; it is the ability for a networked organisation to support each other on the delivery of Business Intelligence. It’s the ability to enable any great Business Intelligence idea generated anywhere involved in research in the NHS to be realised and quickly turned into an App. Ultimately it’s about trying to make the most of significant local expertise without ‘nationalising’ it! What is most refreshing though is that this concept has evolved at the grass roots of what we need to do and hasn’t needed to be driven by a management policy or decision, our cleverest delivery agents are the teams that are driving this change!

Delivering systems and solutions to a network rather than a more traditionally structured organisation brings different challenges, I have written before about moving away from the term users and trying to create fans of the systems we deploy, moving to Open Source Analytics is a further step in this direction.  By delivering the tools and the training to a dispersed and creative local workforce we are enabling and enthusing a group that has worked in well designed and engineered silos for so long. Changing the culture of the organisation hasn’t been hard once the tools are there. Normally that’s not the case with Information Systems deployments but in this case the tool is two things, both intuitive to use and immediately delivering exciting results.

Providing access to enable Information Managers and Information Systems leads across the organisation to begin developing Apps  has been a little challenging. The central team can’t keep up with the needs and desires of the networked team, the excitement for the new tools has been an eye opener as to how the organisation will evolve and change with tools like the ODP and App Centre being in place. A real local led revolution.

The Arrested Development song springs to mind, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he can feed his family for a life time.”

The next challenge though is to ‘bottle’ this enthusiasm, the concept of the ODP and App Centre has two clear benefits at its core, the delivery of self service information management for the ‘classic question’  and the ability to allow a user to be creative in a safe live environment with near real time data. The tool allows the directors of the clinical research organisations to ‘get at’ data collected across the network and do ‘things’ with the data, the concept always being that they can do this themselves and allow information analysts to get on with analysing information rather than crunching numbers.  However imagine weaning an executive of any organisation off using a team of information managers and on to a DIY scenario. To try to support this change we have gone on a data is good offensive, trying to promote understanding the data of our organisation and how it can be turned into intelligence. One of the greatest statistics to support that we have got this right though is the user numbers in a few weeks we have gone from zero to just under 1,700 users, remarkable and exciting.

As we move into 2014 we may now need to refresh the catch phrase though, following on from the marketer’s principle of keeping it new and fresh. For me it’s a shame, I have loved some of the tools we have used this year; describing the infrastructure as an operation game, imagining a world and aligning the planets, creating fans of systems. All of these have been repeatable icons of an innovation in how information systems can and should be deployed.  However one phrase will stick with us into 2014 too:

“Collecting DATA to create INFORMATION that enables INSIGHT that drives BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE”

That phrase stays, as it describes completely both the benefit and the challenge, the organisation loves creating information and is always keen to add another data set to the collection regime. However the new way of working now insists that to add a data collection also requires that the insight  that it will bring is defined, and also a check that there isn’t any other data that can be used as a proxy for the answer.

All in all then, this year has been the year that Business Intelligence has arrived in our organisation, next year will be the year it matures and goes mainstream.