Business Intelligence is not just the game for large enterprises now, it’s widely used by all the companies including small and mid size business. In the past few years, Business Intelligence software has been widely used by companies to stay ahead in the competition and gain a technological edge for the data collected. According to the technology report by Gartner, ‘Business Intelligence & Analytics’ is the foremost concern for the CIOs and the CTO’s in today’s time. Yet there are many organizations that still struggle with the problem of strategic BI Software Implementation to help business growth by adopting a good data culture.
The term ‘Business Intelligence’ has multiple facets and BI software implementation is a complex deal to take care of considering the time and cost that is involved in the process. Thus these factors not only at times complicate the process but this stresses on the successful implementation of BI software to be able to generate the value for it.
Though after a careful study of many successful BI implementations, we uncovered the five main areas that play jack in the process and so must be taken care of properly. If focused on any BI Software can be implemented smoothly and successfully thus maximizing its value.
1. Business Intelligence Strategy:
A clear vision is the most important thing while doing anything. The same goes for BI implementation. Business needs to have a clear approach laid out keeping in mind the vision of implementation. Crafting a BI strategy keeping in mind the answers to below mentioned questions would help bringing clarity to this vision:
What are the expectations from the BI implementation initiative?
How are these expectations going to be achieved?
Who will be the stakeholders?
Along with these answers, BI strategy needs to identify metrics and KPI’s that align with the corporate strategy and objectives (e.g. Increase Customer base, Increase Customer Satisfaction, 3600 Customer view, etc.). It needs to follow a clear guided approach considering current and future behavior of processes, technology, consumer, company and other components that are likely to be affected by the process of implementation. The business intelligence implementation strategy needs to constantly tuned to keep it in sync with the business and its requirements.
2. Alignment to Business:
“Without business in business intelligence, BI is dead”- Gartner
According to a Gartner report, fewer than 30% of business intelligence projects meet the objectives of the business. Thus, if there is no clear vision and buy-in on the BI implementation program, a business cannot generated the desired results thus missing the goals which would clearly imply a failed implementation. The key to successful implementation is to follow a collaborative approach amongst IT and Business, enabling the merger between technology and business goals.
3. Architectural Blueprint:
Once the business goals are defined and the method to measure ROI is clear, it is critical to lay down the architectural blueprint that will best support the generation of expected results. Correct, Clean, Complete and Compliant Business data are key success factors of any BI implementation process. Thus, the architecture should evolve collection, centralization, conversion of data into reliable, integrated, secure, available and usable business information. This process is very well known as ETL(Extraction, loading and transformation) in the world of business intelligence. To achieve this, a holistic approach towards architecture foundation needs to be taken considering various parameters covering aspects such as:
Data Management – Centralization/Decentralization, Data Modelling, Metadata Management, Data Quality, Data Lineage, Data Availability, etc.
Hardware – Data sizing, Performance, Scalability, Cost, etc.
Software Tools for Data Integration, Scheduling, Reporting & Analytics – Data sizing, Performance, Analytical Capabilities, Licensing Cost, etc.
This kind of architectural blueprint will help organizations envision BI returns from its establishment to its maturity over a period of time.
4. One Step at a Time:
Achieving quick results is no simple feat. Move step-by-step. The architectural road map must systematically be supported by having the right business analysts, technical architects and suitable BI tools along with well-established governance structure, policies, management processes & practices with assigned ownership and accountability. Taking one step at a time also provides the opportunity to learn from mistakes and bring in improvements. For every part of BI architecture, be it data integration, data quality, metadata management, reporting or analytics, it is recommended to create prototypes aligning to smaller business objectives. Then once implemented; extending it further. This kind of BI framework introduces agility and scalability throughout the BI implementation program.
5. BI Value Assessment & Amendment:
Measuring the ROI at every milestone defined in the strategy will help keeping the BI initiative lean, focused on cost efficiency and identifying improvements in terms of technology upgrades, migrations or adoptions and benefits. With the assessment factor built-in, the BI strategy supports identifying roadblocks and taking corrective measures. At the same time it provides opportunity to make amendments to the strategy itself to align or re-align to the changing business needs maximizing ROI.
There is no denying the fact that BI Implementations are expensive and could be unpredictable sans experience of implementation. It is the experience which brings in a pragmatic roadmap that caters to business and technology keeping the 5 keys always in focus for a solution to work as well on day 100 as it did on day 1.