3 Common Business Intelligence Mistakes You Need To Avoid

  • Richard Thelwell
  • April 30, 2014

According to Gartner, the Business Intelligence industry is now worth an estimated $14 billion and yet there still remains a 70% likelihood that a BI project will fail to meet expectations. It is therefore essential to be aware of the Business Intelligence mistakes that you should avoid making at all costs.

Business Intelligence Solutions can be extremely powerful tools that, when used correctly, can help your business to thrive. However, without a robust Business Intelligence Strategy in place, companies are often prone to making blunders that can undermine the success of the whole project.

In this post we look at three of the biggest Business Intelligence mistakes that you should be sure to avoid.

1 Uncertain leadership

One of the most common Business Intelligence mistakes made by companies engaging in a new BI implementation is failing to achieve clarity about who is heading up the project. Internal conflict can often arise between business and IT leaders since they frequently have differing views as to the best course of action. This internal conflict may contribute towards the persistently high failure rates associated with Business Intelligence Solutions.

It is often assumed – wrongly – that Business Intelligence projects fall entirely under the realm of IT departments when, in fact, it is essential that there is a strong level of business sponsorship to underpin operations. Paul Rubens argues that IT departments prioritise factors such as “stability, scalability, security and vendor reputation” when making purchasing decisions, without considering the needs of business users.

Conversely, a survey conducted by StatSlice comes to the defence of IT departments by suggesting that IT data experts are often treated with “significant hostility” by business leaders who see them as a threat to their authority over a project.

When it comes to determining who should lead a BI implementation, Jeff Roberts (@jeffjohnroberts) introduces an interesting perspective by arguing that a “better approach is to treat data in a more agile manner, and create teams that consist of both an IT person and a business executive”. Achieving this compromise allows businesses to exploit the skills in both camps, allowing faster and better decisions to be made.

2 Failing to meet user requirements

When making decisions regarding Business Intelligence Tools, it is easy to get so inundated by the specifications of various products that you begin to lose sight of what really matters – the end user.

One of the biggest Business Intelligence mistakes you can make is failing to account for the specific requirements of these end users. This can be a pivotal factor in determining the success of any BI project. Gartner analyst Rita Sallam argues that BI systems “can cost a company millions, yet sometimes they provide little or no value” due to a mismatch in the expectations of users and the product that is eventually purchased.

Failing to align the product with the capabilities of end users can also be extremely detrimental to the value of a BI Tool. If users lack the necessary skills to operate the software then severe bottlenecks are certain to occur. This may even result in the product being left dormant for long periods of time as users wait for experienced IT staff to deal with problems.

Larry Marion argues that BI systems need to be “accessible, intuitive and easy to use if you want your end-users to enjoy working with them and make full use of all of the benefits they offer”. Establishing a comprehensive understanding of user skills and requirements should therefore be a pre-requisite for any successful BI implementation.

3 Neglecting the importance of data quality

Neglecting the importance of data quality is one of the most damaging Business Intelligence mistakes that any company can make as this data provides the foundations for the entire intelligence operation.

A 2010 BI and Information Management survey conducted by InformationWeek found that 55% of CIOs cited data quality as the most significant barrier to the successful implementation of BI Solutions.

Data quality problems are listed as one of Gartner’s “nine fatal flaws in business intelligence operations”, highlighting how important the issue really is. According to Gartner, “people won’t use BI applications that are founded on irrelevant, incomplete or questionable data”, so these problems must be overcome in order to ensure that BI Tools are utilised to their full potential.

As Brian Knight states, all companies have issues relating to data quality, but these weaknesses are often brought to the forefront when embarking on a new Business Intelligence project. All companies are bound to face some degree of difficulty in ensuring data quality is achieved, this is understandable, and help is often required from external sources who can provide a more holistic interpretation of your data.

So Why Go It Alone?

It is no secret that the implementation of a successful BI Tool can be an arduous task. Problems are likely to occur along the way and it is essential that you are suitably equipped with the knowledge and expertise to overcome them.

A professional BI vendor can help to guide you through every stage of the implementation process and, by benefiting from their wealth of experience, you will be able to make more well-informed decisions.

So why go it alone? With the help of a BI vendor, such as Matillion, you can make the implementation process significantly smoother, avoiding many of the common Business Intelligence mistakes we have explored.

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