Useful guidelines to business intelligence strategy

Build a roadmap that enables performance measurement and find out competitive advantages

Companies that can keep up with changing customer behaviour may seem superhuman. However, the reality is that they likely have a business intelligence strategy in place.

A business intelligence strategy is formed when approaches for storing, analysing, gathering and access to data have been collected and organised in such a way as to provide insight and help a company to make more informed decisions.

Should your company have a business intelligence strategy?

A BI strategy is, essentially, a tool that can be used to maintain your business. It is the master entity that defines your business. Without BI, a company will always be 'shooting in the dark' as far as logic, truth, data and other elements are concerned.

What can happen without BI? When BI isn't in use, many issues can arise with the quality of data a company obtains. Not only can the quality of data become an afterthought where it should be a focus, but it can leave a company in the dark as far as the effectiveness of the tools they use to generate revenue.

Wasted time

In companies without a BI strategy, time can be wasted discussing where data has come from rather than interpreting that data. Without the presence of a BI strategy, data can originate from many sources, resulting in everyone trying to define a version of the truth.

Fuzzy logic

Because no single entity is in place to clearly define data and its parameters, a business without a BI strategy can see their calculations having numerous definitions and names for the same things. Not only is this confusing, but these inconsistencies can cause bottlenecks in the flow of information as well as the flow of products and services to the customer.

Creating an effective BI strategy

Every effective BI strategy should include the following elements:

  • A perspective that consists of the entire business
  • Aligning with a company's overall IT strategy and company goals
  • Analysing a company's current and future state
  • A gap analysis between current and future states
  • Establishing a body of governance
  • Documentation and analysis of any assumptions and constraints
  • Establishing criteria for success

There are also several common pitfalls that companies should avoid. These include:

  • Beginning BI planning with a narrow vision
  • Not understanding that BI involves much more than just technology
  • Focusing only on data integration and modern BI tools
  • Using a 'big bag' instead of an iterative implementation

An effective BI strategy is a road map that includes risk management, priorities, dependencies, change management and communications, as well as strategic and tactical steps for achieving success. It also requires an understanding of the factors that influence BI and learning the proper way to develop your strategy will be critical in the success of its implementation. Above all, a conscious approach that blends enterprise resources will result in the delivering of a piece of information that is not only predictable but consistent, complete and reliable.

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