Going for gold – What it takes to become a business intelligence champion
The 2016 Olympic Games kick off in Rio this week, with thousands of athletes from all over the world competing in a range of sporting events over a two-week period. Each of them will be hoping that their Games will end in the ultimate glory – a Gold medal – but becoming the best is never easy, it takes a lot of hard work and a number of important qualities.
Likewise, in the world of business, it’s not always easy to ensure that projects are a success. This is particularly the case when it comes to business intelligence implementations, where Gartner estimates that around 70% of projects ultimately fail.
So what can be done to ensure you don’t find yourself amongst this majority?
How can you ensure that your business intelligence project succeeds?
In this post we look at a number of important factors which can help you to become a business intelligence champion, rather than being left lagging behind.
Preparation is the key to success. When athletes step out into the arena in Rio, it will be the culmination of months and years of preparation in the gym and on the training ground. They’ll have fine-tuned every element of their performance to ensure that they are in the best position possible when it truly matters.
Preparation is also key when it comes to your data. You can invest thousands in the latest and greatest BI tools, but if the data that sits underneath these tools is flawed then their effectiveness will be diminished. There’s no ‘quick fix’ for poor data quality, and splashing out on a fancy tool in an attempt to solve your problems will undoubtedly fail to mask the underlying issues at hand.
It’s therefore crucial that you clean up your data, get it into the right shape and format, and make sure it’s all present before doing any kind of reporting over it. It’s often the case that your data will be buried in multiple systems and it’s therefore integral that you collate all information from these disparate sources, ideally building a central repository with the help of a data warehouse. BI & reporting tools are only as good as the data itself, so if you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out.
Effective teamwork is often an integral part of Olympic competition. Even in individual disciplines, there is usually a team of coaches and experts working tirelessly behind the scenes in order to help ensure success.
Business Intelligence projects similarly require a real team effort from across the business if they are to be successful. It’s important to get executive backing for the project from an early stage and get as many people involved and enthused as possible. Democratizing the use of business intelligence tools across the wider organisation can also help to give more people the resources they need to create reports and analyses.
Business Intelligence projects have traditionally fallen under the realm of IT departments due to the often-complex nature of solutions and their implementation. However, there has been a significant swing towards line-of-business users as a result of more accessible, self-serve offerings. It’s important that both IT and business work together to ensure that the best solution is chosen from an enterprise perspective.
Speed – on the track it’s what makes the real difference, and it’s often the finest margins that can determine success or failure. Being one step ahead, reacting first, and executing fastest are all crucial if you are to come through and win in a competitive field.
It’s much the same when it comes to competitive business markets. You need to ensure that you’re always one step ahead of the competition and, to do this, you need to be able to react to change and make the right decisions, faster. Equipping decision-makers with the tools and insights they need to make better, faster decision is where the real value of business intelligence comes into play.
This means access to high-level insights through the use of effective data visualisation and dashboards, as well as the ability to ‘slice and dice’ to drill down further into this data as required. It also means the ability to access these tools on the go, wherever you might be in the world, on a range of devices. The Cloud has made access to business intelligence tools much easier, with a reliable internet connection being all you require to get online and utilise enterprise grade solutions at the click of a mouse.
Agility requires a combination of balance, coordination, speed, strength and reflexes. Athletes need agility in order to change tack or direction quickly in response to changing circumstances around them.
As a business it’s difficult to know what’s just around the corner. What is important, however, is that you have the agility to react quickly to any changes and adapt, without losing momentum.
You need a business intelligence platform which not only helps you to become more agile as a business, by improving the speed of decision-making, but in itself is also agile enough to cope with the changing demands of your business.
The ability to scale with the growth of your user base, for example, should be a crucial factor in determining the best tool for your business. The Cloud has once again revolutionised the scalability of software platforms as it negates the need for physical servers and additional hardware, which are often costly to scale up and down. Cloud business intelligence platforms therefore provide much more flexibility for growing businesses.
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