James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, gave a talk on “Performance Management and Agility” at the monthly meeting of the SDForum BI SIG on Tuesday, April 20th. He argued that traditional BI and performance management result in dashboards that measure and monitor like instrument clusters in cars. But what is needed is something more like the cockpits in airplanes: there should be buttons and levers and so on that enable the “pilot” to act on the information presented by the dashboard. James argued for combining performance management with decision management (a term he pioneered) so that information supports decision-making that leads to action.
The analogy with airplanes, pilots, and cockpits provided several additional useful examples since planes have autopilots and pilots learn on simulators. James claimed that decision management can help automate some decisions (providing an autopilot) and can allow for simulation supporting experimentation.
Agility was a key theme of the presentation and part of James’ approach is intended to support quick actions. When an event occurs, in some cases it is important to notice quickly and act almost immediately as the value of action based on the information about the event decreases rapidly as time passes. With other events, you have more time to consider options. But the key is to notice and act appropriately in a timely manner. It isn’t enough just to make information available or notice things quickly or even in real time. Sometimes noticing immediately isn’t even necessary or useful (e.g., when the required action would take a long time anyway).
James uses a three stage approach to improving operational decisions:
- discover the important decisions
- build (automate) decision services
- analyze decisions and create a closed loop between analytics and decision services.