9 Things to Know About Your BI Strategy

  • Ed Thompson, CTO
  • March 27, 2014

BI strategy fundamentals | These considerations can help you to formulate a successful plan.When it comes to your Business Intelligence, it is important that you are in the know. These nine fundamental considerations can help you to formulate a successful BI strategy.

1. Who is driving the BI project?

When developing a BI strategy, it is important to know who is driving the project – to identify the person who is ultimately responsible for decision-making. It is of vital importance that any project is sponsored by somebody high up in the company, a manager who has the authority to drive ideas into action. Industry expert Boris Evelson believes that a BI implementation should “absolutely not be sponsored by anyone in IT”, and instead should be overseen by an executive who has a much broader perspective on business objectives. Evelson states that this responsibility typically falls to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in a business.

2. Is the strategy business- or IT-lead?

Business users and IT users often have very different views on the objectives of a BI strategy and it is therefore important to know which side has greater influence in the debate. When it comes to implementing new tools, business users are typically concerned with factors such as speed, clarity of information, ease of use and its sustainability over time. IT users on the other hand are more concerned with factors such as security, control and the ease of integration with existing systems.
Jeff John Roberts argues that, “The 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”. In theory, this would allow much greater collaboration on projects and permit the business to derive the maximum value from its BI Strategy. However, in reality it is unlikely that this collaboration will be a smooth process. And with such differing views, it is possible that this twinning may divert attention away from the best interests of the business as a whole.

3. Who are the users?

Perhaps even more important than the architects of a BI strategy are the people who will ultimately use the tools. It is important that your BI strategy is formulated with these users in mind – and in order to do this you must gain an insight into who exactly they are. Daniel Dann looks at the three broad classifications of BI users: strategic, tactical and operational. These different types of users have very different requirements in terms of the volume, complexity and timeliness of intelligence information they require. It is also important to accommodate the different levels of experience that different users may have as well as their level of IT competence.

4. What are your Key Performance Indicators?

As part of your BI strategy, it is crucial that you determine what information is most important for your business. In order to do this, you should define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs should be high-level, well-defined quantifiable measurements based on pre-established criteria. As such, they provide a framework for comparing performance against business objectives. It is crucial that these KPIs are clearly defined and that their use is consistent throughout the whole business in order to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation that may occur with the use of overly technical jargon.

5. How good is your data?

One of the major obstacles facing businesses when developing a BI strategy is the quality of data. Businesses often put great amounts of time and money into developing their Business Intelligence operations but this can all be undermined by the data itself being of a poor quality. One of the major difficulties that businesses face is being able to collect and process vast amounts of information. This is where BI tools can help. BI tools can automate the collection of data and process it into clear and actionable insights. This means that you can spend less time collecting the data and more time actually using it.

6. How secure is your data?

One of the biggest concerns that companies have about their BI strategy is the security of their data. This is one of the primary reasons why businesses have traditionally preferred On-Premise Business Intelligence, as opposed to outsourcing these operations. A study by Howard Dresner into Cloud BI concerns, for example, found that more than half (56%) of the survey respondents stated security and privacy issues are the top barrier to adoption of Cloud BI. However technologies such as Cloud BI are becoming increasingly secure and therefore offer a viable alternative to On-Premise.

7. What technology to use?

Another major factor in a BI strategy is determining how it will be deployed and on what platform users will view the information. Two of the major trends in Business Intelligence in recent years have been the emergence of Cloud BI and Mobile BI. Cloud BI allows users to access information at anytime, anywhere in the world, overcoming many of the restrictions of traditional BI tools. Mobile BI can allow users to access this information on the go on a range of smartphones and tablet devices.

8. How much does it cost?

Cost can be one of the major factors to consider when developing a BI strategy, particularly for small and medium-size businesses who do not have the vast financial resources of larger firms. With all of the new tools and technologies that are available right now, it could be easy to get carried away and make large financial outlays that the company simply cannot afford in the long run. Cloud BI tools can offer a great solution at a fraction of the price of traditional On-Premise operations.

9. How long does it take to implement?

Business Intelligence solutions can often take a long time to implement, leaving businesses without this vital information for long periods of time. It is important to factor this implementation period into your BI strategy and be realistic about time constraints and any potential delays that may occur. Again, Cloud BI offers a much more efficient solution to traditional BI because the implementation time is drastically reduced. A traditional Business Intelligence tool typically takes between 12-24 months to implement whereas here, at Matillion, our customers can be up and running in as little as 4 weeks.

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