Thursday, October 22, 2015

Is BI a Project, a Policy, or an Ongoing Digital Capability

BI is a policy which companies are deciding to implement to manage data and an ongoing capability to capture business insight.
Business intelligence (BI) is the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. BI complemented by Big Data plays an even larger role every year when in such domains as marketing have the right information before competitors is often crucial.  But more strategically and specifically, is BI a Project, Policy or an ongoing digital capability?

BI is not a project, it is an ongoing digital capability. It is a fundamental change in an organization and will be only successful if people are not seeing it as a project with an end date. This means for sure that you need the buy-in from the top management because the costs for BI, especially for personal support and changes of the system will never stop. The licenses are most of the time the minor part of the investment. Implementing BI in an organization has a better chance to succeed when companies have installed a BI competence center which takes care about all belongings regarding this intelligence for all parts of the company. The BI competence center is the key initiative in an organization for the successful implementation and maintaining of corporate BI.

Mostly people who are involved in the BI project are from both sides of technology and business. You implement a BI strategy with a specific primary goal in mind, cost saving, identifying bottlenecks, and you build and validate your algorithms to reach the goal. All you need to do is pitch your solution successfully. Success in BI is meeting the business requirements. Easy access to data and should load fast. Empower end user to slice and dice the data the way they want it. Success lies in the high rate of adoption of your delivery/product/initiative. Consumption, decision making, and process implementations, as well as service improvements, are based on what is produced through BI.
-Clear business objective (not detailed scope, but a few sample reports or types of information the business believes would add revenue or lower cost).
-Solid, unified cross-silo core team with dedicated, not floating, resources.
-Senior sponsorship.
-Agreement within IT and business of its priority vs other projects.

Easy to deploy with flexibility and simplification is crucial for assessing BI success. Flexibility of a tech stack or implementation approach of the same with the aim to provide a business user, the capability of slicing and dicing of data and analyze data on various parameters is key. Often every business is dynamic and changes very frequently based on market needs. So if a business user needs to analyze data in a certain way due to change in business scenario and if IT team comes back and says.. "this change takes x days/weeks to modify this kpi/report /dashboard due to the involvement of various technologies..." Guess what, it irks user and the whole BI implementation is seen as a flop exercise. So making a change or analyzing data on a different set of values by the business user on the fly is key to the success of BI projects. In a nutshell, the end product should look like an Excel that is the tool every business user is connected with because of flexibility it offers and simplicity to modify the analysis on the fly.

BI is not a project, BI is a policy, which companies are deciding to implement to manage data. This policy consists of such elements like collection/gathering, storage, processing and publication of data. The policy is focused on supporting business processes. Whether the business process is effective or not, you have to measure it. It means you have to register all information, which are related to each task. Then you can analyze the process. BI policy implementation is about describing business processes. If you are aware how the process is conducted then you can deal with data. You can also ask what information is needed by operators at each task to make work more effective. Asking the right questions to the stakeholders upfront, and have the flexibility to pivot as the picture comes into focus.

Too often people over think the success metrics. Basically, you will see it in usage and people will talk about it. It is, however, critical that you know what the success factors should be prior to starting, otherwise it's pointless to deliver something for the sake of delivering it. Without business goals, you shouldn't have executed a BI initiative to start off with. If you don't scope it right with the end goal in mind, with all stakeholders fully aware of requirements and what will be delivered, it won't succeed or be adopted.


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