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Don't cut corners

01 Aug 10

A good BI strategy is pervasive and is available in all areas of a business. Good BI means that a business is able to access all the information they want, when they want it. Here are the top 10 things you should know about BI and why:
1. A holistic approach
Building a BI capability requires a holistic approach involving people, process, and technology to create real business value to the organisation. It is not another plug-in system in the enterprise.
2. BI strategy and executive support
BI projects require strong executive support in the most active sense. Creating a BI strategy in order to defi ne the scope and continuous input into the process is crucial. Lack of support would inevitably lead to a mismatch of expectations and eventual failure. If this is a new initiative in the company, it is worthwhile bringing in experienced consultants.
3. Business as active participants
A business has to specify the information it would like to access and the format that it would like to access it in. While this is not an IT decision, it is still the IT department’s role to serve as an enabler in the process. More important than any other system, a business needs to take the lead on what they want, how they want it, and when they want it.
4. Re-iterative process
BI is a re-iterative ongoing process. A business has changing needs and wants. Reports and dashboards will need to be modifi ed, new ones created and old ones removed. BI is not a static function; new business trends will change informational needs and delivery mechanisms.
5. Emerging devices
Traditional delivery methods used dashboards and BI tools accessed via PC. Emerging trends show that mobile devices are becoming increasingly important. The ability to view data on an iPhone or smartphone is becoming the norm. While BI analysts or power users require the heavy functions in a BI tool, most departments will want to have the data delivered via their chosen device.
 6. Ongoing trends
As BI grows and evolves, trends become increasingly important as these drive the ongoing strategy, and impact and change the way the company pulls, uses and deploys information. Current trends on social computing and cloud computing will affect the type of information in use, the way it is loaded, and how it is deployed. Social tools are becoming more integrated business tools.
7. Timeliness
The biggest complaint that users have about BI systems is the timeliness of information. A system must be able to deliver information in a timely fashion or a query run within an acceptable timeframe for the business to start utilising BI more frequently.
8. The right data
Clean data – the root of BI comes from the data it provides to the end-user. If the information is wrong, confi dence is lost early on and very quickly. Ensure that master data information is accurate and rationalised across the organisation. BI is an enterprise-wide effort.
9. Data volume
What systems will be used to pull the information and how much of it is there? Where will it be stored? These are crucial questions that lead back to project scope, cost and schedule.
10. Training
Often a forgotten process, it is important and crucial that users are trained in the use of the BI tools and information. With staff turnover, this is a continuous effort.
BI is an ongoing company-wide strategic initiative. To treat it any other way would severely restrict its effectiveness in the organisation and devalue the role of business analysis.