Technology -> Data Management
By: Shitali Malviya, Consultant, Sigma Infosolutions
Published: 11th January 2013
Copyright Sigma Infosolutions © 2013
BI turns data into actionable information which support business in strategic decision making. A Business Intelligence (BI) project assumes to be integrated with a data warehouse (DW) or other reporting solution like a data repository or reporting from legacy systems. Therefore BI should be considered as DW/BI project.
So what is business intelligence, and how should your company get started with it? From the vendors’ perspective, business intelligence means software and services that they can sell to you to help you get more information from your existing data. But from the business perspective, business intelligence is more than just software; it is a strategy with specific supporting management processes. Prior to implementing a business intelligence initiative, organizations need to have an understanding of the following five elements.
1) Understand the need of Business Intelligence
It is important to have a fundamental understanding of business intelligence (BI) & how to adopt it to become useful for business. In short, you need to define the organization’s BI philosophy with strategic goals & translate strategy into action. The communication of strategic goals and data collection is critical to successful BI. The organization needs to have an answer to the question: ”What will we accomplish with this initiative". Business units can cut significant costs while creating additional value through better coordination, integration, quality of data and analytical functionality. A strategy for implementing BI projects can greatly upswing returns. Starting small (POC/section) is a good way to understand BI benefits.
2) Analyze internal requirements
It is critical that you carefully analyze your current business methods and practices to determine specific objectives for BI implementation. The user requirements drive decisions about the data to incorporate in the data warehouse, how to organize (dimension) the data and how often to refresh the data. "Garbage in, garbage out" means requirements should be precisely defined to align with the business needs. BI analysts often focus on the technical questions associated with the analysis. However, a more business-oriented approach could yield better results.
3) Key stakeholder involvement
Top banagement, business users, operations etc. are the key stakeholders. The sooner you involve them the better you know about your requirements. Most BI projects are considered to be an internal project that should meet the company’s internal requirements. However it should reflect the needs of customers and deal with external issues like market situation or customer behavior. A BI project is an organization-wide project; it should involve members from each department, especially from marketing and sales, who appear to be the end-users with knowledge bound for the BI system. One should not consider just internal requirements, but the market and customer requirements as well. Stakeholder involvement ensures full knowledge and understanding of the benefits, impacts and risks associated with BI implementation. Effective stakeholder engagement is a key ingredient in the success of BI implementation projects.
4) Key data accessibility for analysis and presentation
We know that an organization's data is a major asset, and we are well aware of the importance of data quality. Develop & implement a data strategy in such a way that it should not frustrate users. Formulate an overall data strategy by asking, "What data do we need to run/analyze/present—how long, integration with sources, level of detail, data privacy and security etc. BI typically involves the analysis, presentation and delivery of information to business users via accessing repositories where data is brought together from many different systems across the organization. Business intelligence software promises better decision-making and insight into company data, but both are possible with unbridled access to the information stored in a database. If you want to increase competitiveness, you need to improve access to data across all levels of the company.
5) Choose the right technology partner
The most important part to make sure your BI initiative is a success is being evaluated and you have chosen the right technology partner. BI initiatives are vastly different from many past IT initiatives in which outside services have been retained. So it’s important to consider proven capability, reputation and track record of success, more than just cost and/or staff augmentation abilities, while evaluating a partner. The partner should be able to understand and align with your strategy, take a business-driven approach and support the execution of specific initiatives to meet your business vision. Business should understand what to be aware of and how to select the best software while sifting through the marketing buzz of BI trends. POC is a formal initiative to prove the viability of the technology as well as partner capability to meet a business defined requirement. Be aware of technology lock-in and know the cost of "getting out".
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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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