Microsoft BI: Catching the Deadliest Dashboard

May 14, 2010   //   Business Intelligence, , , , ,

When I’m not architecting business intelligence solutions or working in the garden with my inquisitive 3 year old, I find time to watch “Deadliest Catch”. I always have 3 or 4 episodes queued up on the DVR on any given day. I rather enjoy doing my homework while the briny episodes unfold on the LCD. It could be worse. Especially if my wife has episodes of Oprah to catch up on!  Yikes.

One thing I’ve noticed since becoming a DC fan is that all the captains make most of their decisions from the gut. These decisions include deciding where to fish, how long to fish an area, when to increase the bait in the pots, when to ask the crew to pull long shifts, and when to stop the current plan and start over with a new plan. How are these decisions/plans arrived at? The show gives some insight into the decision making process but for the most part we are led to believe that all the decisions are made at the whimsy’s of the curmudgeon captains and their vast years of fishing experience. This gave me pause the other night. Could this gut feel decision making approach be a metaphor for some decision makers in the mid-market?

I find there is a parallel between this gut approach on the show and many of our prospects in the business intelligence mid-market.  There are countless small businesses that have become successful by having leaders who can make good decisions based on wisdom and a little bit of luck.  There are also countless examples of small and even large organizations that failed because rash decisions were made. Our job entails meeting these decision makers, and convincing them that fact-based decisions derived from information can be a good thing! Every organization has access to data. Turning that raw data into actionable information is what gets me exited and keeps me coming back each day for new and interesting challenges. I rather enjoy the warm comfortable feeling of making decisions based on information. When I buy something at the store I know my money is good because I checked my checking account balance from my blackberry earlier.  I don’t make purchases based on my recollection of the balance from a week ago. Not good and usually not correct!

I wonder what the captains on DC would think if I parked myself and my laptop in their wheel house for week or two? I can see the dashboards and reports I would create. Perhaps I could convince Sig Hansen to let me pear into his decision process and formulate some analysis assets to help him get the crab!  Maybe a trend report that shows average pounds of crap per pot. Or a deck hand scorecard that shows: avg hours without  sleep, count of employee injuries per string, Avg pounds per pot, Median sort duration per string, Running pounds of crap caught, forecasted profit share, and remaining units of bait.  I could go on and on…

I don’t know if we’ll ever see SQL Server Analysis Services running on the computers of the Alaskan crab fleet, but I feel convinced that cube based information would make them all better captains. Of course, taking away risk and unknowns from the decision making process might not make for good TV. I’m certain it would put more cash in the pockets of the captains and crews.

Anyone hungry for Maggiano’s and Business Intelligence?

I will present business intelligence in a luncheon format at Maggiano’s in Oak Brook IL on May 21 from 12-1:30PM.  The topic will be:  “SWC LUNCH & LEARN – Building Better Dashboards with Microsoft 2010”  If you haven’t signed up already, I highly suggest you do so.  We’re very excited about our 2010 BI vision and look forward to demonstrating this vision at the luncheon. We hope you can join us!