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  • Isabelle Ulbrich

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE - WHAT IS THAT?

It's a quiet Sunday morning in July 2019. The sun is shining through the window, and while the coffee machine hums quietly in the background, I shuffle into the dining room, still a little sleepy, grab a bowl of muesli and settle down at the breakfast table. My father, who is already in far too good a mood and always up early, is reading the latest issue of a vocational training magazine while his coffee steams next to a sandwich with salami.



My gaze falls on a headline on page 1 of the newspaper: "(BI) Business Intelligence – Shaping the future". Normally, my mind automatically sorts out most of the boring topics in my parents' educational magazines, but in this case I become curious. Business intelligence – what's that all about? "If there's a term for the fact that someone is doing business intelligently, is there also a term 'business brainlessness'?" I ask the three-day beard behind page 3, somewhat provocatively.


"Good morning first of all. I hope you've had a good rest over the last eleven hours," my father hums across the breakfast table while searching the front page for the cause of the idealistic business student's unqualified comment. "Oh, you mean the article on business intelligence. Yes, my boy, that will also keep you very busy. The principle is quite simple – you could almost say trivial." I stir my muesli in disbelief. "None of the things you deal with every day at vocational school have ever struck me as "trivial"!" I had the honour of attending several Sunday lectures given by my father, an admittedly very good teacher at the local Peter Hebel vocational school, as an overwhelmed audience.


And I was almost always left with a big question mark. "Business intelligence encompasses the technologies and strategies that companies use to analyse data and gain insights from these analyses that contribute to decision-making. In other words: Prepare data, see and recognise, act. It's not really crazy, is it?"


IS THIS REALLY SO IMPORTANT FOR COMPANIES?


Once again, it was obvious that someone would come up with an insane title for a fairly straightforward principle. My father agrees for once at this point and explains that in today's data-driven world, business intelligence is just as crucial for the competitiveness of companies as professional training and further education in companies. "Through business intelligence, companies can identify patterns and trends in their data, which helps them to act with foresight, minimise risks and drive innovation. Without such insights, many decisions would be based on guesswork."


WHAT IS LEARNING OPTIMISATION?


As I finish off the last of my muesli, our conversation switches from the business world to corporate training. This is usually unavoidable with my father. He's a master at turning any topic into training and development in companies. It's in his nature – otherwise he probably wouldn't have become a vocational school teacher who deals with precisely this subject on a daily basis. "Similar to universities, companies can use business intelligence to make decisions regarding their product or sales strategy and at the same time optimise the learning process in employee training. Drawing conclusions for the future from past data is always a good idea," my father begins.


"In the context of further training for employees in companies, this is referred to as "learning optimisation". If I realise that my annual training budget has been exceeded many times over, but the content is essential due to official audits, I can think about a concept for how best to reconcile both poles – for example through DIGITAL EMPLOYEE TRAINING. I just have to realise that first, of course." Too much information at once for me on a Sunday morning. "Let me get this straight: By using data analyses, companies can understand which training methods are most effective, how employees react to certain training tasks and which areas need improvement?" "Exactly, and various tools such as learning management systems (LMS) make it possible to track employee progress, create personalised learning paths for each individual and even predict which employees might need additional support. Provided, of course, that such systems don't just exist in theory, but are firmly anchored in day-to-day business and are really fed with reliable data. But even if you can ensure this, you are still faced with the challenge of interpreting very large amounts of data correctly and, of course, ensuring that the issue of data protection is taken into account."


HOW TO BRING BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND LEARNING OPTIMISATION TOGETHER?


My father, now fully in teacher mode, explains how business intelligence can be used specifically in the area of in-company training: "But think about the potential of this topic. Imagine if, by analysing performance evaluations and learning behaviour, trainers could see which topics are the most difficult for employees and adapt their training plans accordingly. Business Intelligence makes this possible! Personalised learning environments can be created that adapt to the needs of each individual employee. If you use appropriate BI analysis tools, you can recognise learning gaps that the learners are not even aware of and react to them before they become entrenched. It's brilliant, isn't it?"


WHAT CHALLENGES EXIST WHEN USING BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE?


I stay quiet for a few minutes and enjoy the break my father is giving me. Let's be honest: Nobody can handle that anymore. If you think about how much data each of us produces every day – whether privately or at work. How much mass does a company have to produce? And, above all, in terms of data protection, isn't it felt that practically nothing more can be done anyway? How is that supposed to work? As I sip my orange juice in the sun, my counterpart unconsciously picks up on my thoughts.


"Of course, it's not all that easy with business intelligence, especially when it comes to data protection. The companies concerned have to be extremely careful about how they use personal data. It's a balancing act between useful analysis and protecting the privacy of employees. Every time personal data is collected from employees as part of business intelligence, the company must ensure that this information is handled securely and in accordance with legal data protection regulations. You really need robust security systems and clear guidelines on who can access data and for what purpose." I can just imagine sitting in an office ten years later and clicking away 46 cockie pop-ups every time I log on to the company intranet. It's a bizarre thought, but as is so often the case, there are probably experts here who can do it better than my sleepy head can imagine on a Sunday morning.


As we clear our cups and breakfast comes to an end, my thoughts are already on the housework ahead. The conversation has helped me and made me curious about the world of business intelligence. After half an hour of thinking, I decide that this will be the topic of my term paper. Because there's one thing I agree with my father 100%: The topic probably has extreme potential in most companies!


FIVE YEARS LATER


Well – and so today I'm sitting at SWISSTEACH AG, advising our customers on the subject of training and further education for their staff and realising every day that my father was probably right that Sunday morning: Using business intelligence for company training and further education has kept me very busy over the last few years. And there's no end in sight. Somehow very good news!Formularbeginn


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