When charting a course for Business Intelligence (BI), companies should first analyse the way they make decisions and consider the information that executives need to facilitate more confident and more rapid decision-making, as well as how they’d like that information presented to them (for example, as a report, a chart, online, hard copy). Discussions of decision making will drive what information companies need to collect, analyse and publish in their BI systems.
Good BI systems need to give context. It’s not enough that they report sales were X yesterday and Y a year ago that same day. They need to explain what factors influencing the business caused sales to be X one day and Y on the same date the previous year.
Like so many technology projects, BI won’t yield returns if users feel threatened by, or are sceptical of, the technology and refuse to use it as a result. And when it comes to something like BI, which, when implemented strategically, ought to fundamentally change how companies operate and how people make decisions, CIOs need to be extra attentive to users’ feelings.
Seven steps to rolling out BI systems:
- Make sure your data is clean.
- Train users effectively.
- Deploy quickly, then adjust as you go. Don’t spend a huge amount of time up front developing the “perfect” reports because needs will evolve as the business evolves. Deliver reports that provide the most value quickly, and then tweak them.
- Take an integrated approach to building your data warehouse from the beginning. Make sure you’re not locking yourself into an unworkable data strategy further down the road.
- Define ROI clearly before you start. Outline the specific benefits you expect to achieve, then do a reality check every quarter or six months.
- Focus on business objectives.
- Don’t buy business intelligence software because you think you need it. Deploy BI with the idea that there are numbers out there that you need to find, and know roughly where they might be.
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