What are Trim Tabs? – Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aero-dynamic forces and stabilize the boat or aircraft in a particular desired altitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.

As a metaphor, Trim Tabs are used to denote tiny components, which nevertheless have a great impact on things that they are attached to. This blog post is about the relevance of this metaphor to BI in enterprises.

Business Intelligence practitioners acknowledge the fact that BI & Analytics in any organization is a journey, an evolution over a period of time. The canvas for BI is extensive and spans the business technology continuum.

Given that BI can add value in many areas of an organization and there are many solutions possible in each of those areas, it is important to identify the BI ‘Trim Tabs’, i.e. those small areas that can provide the maximum value for invested money. In one of my earlier blogs, I had talked about the concept of “analytics anchor points” – Business processes that should be considered first for optimization through analytics.

Identifying the analytics anchor points in an organization is a non-trivial exercise. In my humble opinion, such a process should start with a complete understanding of the organization’s ‘Business Model’. Business Model is a set of assumptions about how an organization will perform by creating value for all the players, on whom it depends, including its customers. From BI perspective, once the practitioner understands the business model of the company, many questions gets answered:

1) What drives the company’s success and how BI can help?
2) Who are the stakeholders and what information are they looking for?
3) What needs to be optimized and how it can be done?
4) What is the architectural blueprint and how will it evolve?
5) How fast should information get delivered?
6) How much data needs to be collated and how far into the past should one go?
7) What are the regulatory requirements for the company?

And many more. In essence, clarity on one aspect of the problem (business model) will go a long way in selecting the analytics anchor points (BI Trim Tabs) for that particular organization.

Thanks for reading. Please do share your thoughts.

Posted by Karthikeyan Sankaran
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December 1st, 2011

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