The Secret to Organizational Transformation & Empowerment Using Business Intelligence

In today’s marketplace, it is easy to speak with pride that you have implemented a (BI) technology platform. But using a BI platform to transform your business requires not only the right BI technology, it also requires a very uncommon management philosophy to get the job done and ensure a productive result. First, for real long-term success, the executive management team must have a governing philosophy of empowerment.

What does this mean?

It means that the IT department is never the gatekeepers of the technology. They implement and ensure the systems work, but they are removed from KPI report preparations and controlling the information flow derived from the technology platform.

Next, empowerment means changing the traditional organization structure.

In organizations with true empowerment, the managers at the front lines of the business, who interact most frequently with clients and customers and see the need for critical business decisions are finally empowered to make real market decisions themselves.

To truly empower that front-line manager, the BI technology must be capable of putting the most granular level of data and transaction activity in the hands of the manager. That manager must be able to see the results of all discounting, all trade spending, all in-store promotions, and shelf set inventory just to name a few critical factors.

To fully manage sales and margin results at the account level, all account level transaction activity needs to be accessible by managers in literally seconds, not hours or days. And the data can’t be in a summarized or aggregated format.

When the lowest level of management can access every detail of account transaction activity and make real time changes to maintain consistent growth in sales and margins, real empowerment begins.

Another critical measure of empowerment in any organization is accountability. When a front-line manager can access and observe every transaction at every account and make real-time decisions, then authentic accountability can be implemented.

You can’t truly have empowerment without accountability. Managers in this operating environment don’t need to be monitored and governed in traditional ways. When the right BI platform is implemented, empowerment and accountability follow. Rewards for performance are simple to install since measurable outcomes are seen by every level of management.

Taking this approach, the executive team infuses a compelling results oriented passion into all levels of management which ultimately leads to complete transformation of an organization.

To ensure success over time, multiple BI applications used by different departments within an organization is never the best solution. This leads to errors and lack of trust in the information and outputs.

What is needed is a single BI technology platform that can be scaled to handle enormous amounts of data while still maintaining the speed for all management levels. This mandate alone will diminish the BI technology provider options enormously. Many BI solutions are good with small data sets but slow down and become unmanageable as the data size scales up.

With the right BI solution, every level of management can execute their respective responsibilities knowing they are all seeing one version of the truth, one way of seeing all activities in the market that is completely trusted.

Even if you currently have a BI solution, start a review process by asking managers if they trust the data/reports they are being provided. If “NO” is a common response, take immediate steps to find the reason why before doing anything else.

The most successful approach to the right BI solution starts at the top of the organization not the IT department. It begins when management wants real-time factual data to observe market activity and identify problems or outliers in the market that are impacting results.

When the root causes of poor account performance can be immediately identified, fact-based solutions can be implemented. With this as a core objective by management, the right BI Solution can be properly evaluated and selected.

The right BI solution will allow management to answer the question “WHY” about any change in market conditions and activities, and make real-time changes. This is the beginning of real empowerment. All levels of management trust the data and embrace the possibility that consistent results are possible. At this point, accountability is expected, not resisted.

Karl Edmunds

About the Author


Vice President, Salient Management Company

is a nationally recognized business leader and author with more than 20 years of experience working with suppliers, distributors, and retailers in the CPG industry. His focus is aligning technical solutions with sales, marketing, and organizational needs to drive long-term profitable growth.

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