Al Capone and Business Intelligence

If you saw the movie ‘The Untouchables’ one thing that strikes
you about Mr.Al Capone, apart from his base ball bat, is his
penchant for data about his business, ala business intelligence.

In the movie, he begins his day with a hot breakfast served
along with a newspaper(historic data) and a ledger
statement (transaction data). He lights a cigar if the news is
to his liking and flashes a smile, and when it is not, it is time
to thump a few skulls in the next board room meeting. Infact,
Brian De Palma shot the most elaborate board-room-violence
scene ever and Robert De Neiro does not disappoint with his
base ball bat.

This isn’t an article about mastering the art of violence, so,
let’s come back to business intelligence. Let’s talk about data
and the accuracy of it.

One of the big challenges of a business intelligence system is
the collection of data and the authenticity of the same. What if
you crunched the wrong data or worse still, acted on the same.
In the case of Al Capone, it would have been simple, his bat talks
and one of his cronies bites the dust, and the law enforcement
force would rejoice. But in a business scenario, it’s different. It
could result in a loss of a reputation that has been built over the
years painstakingly.

So how to ensure data accuracy and integrity?

1) Make the data entry simple, with mostly numeric type, at the
worker/field level. Capture what you ‘must’ at field level, and
what you ‘should’ as you move up the organization.

2) ‘Time freeze’ the data entry at all levels. Link performance
appraisal to data reporting

3) Data should lead to action at all levels. No available data?
Production halts.

4) Remove redundancy. Capture data only once.

5) Common lingo for internal reporting. Put in place performance
measures based Reporting.

A good business intelligence software should provide all of the
above. And when you have such a solution, there is no need to
spill blood like Al Capone…infact, all business violence could
be pre-empted, in a Minority Reportesque way:-)

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