A white paper about the performance advantage provided by business information analytics reminded me of a conversation I had with a professional blackjack player. “If you know how to analyze the data,” the admitted card counter said to me, “playing blackjack is not gambling.”
Because companies are no more interested in gambling with their futures than professional card sharks, an increasing number of enterprises are striving to make improved enterprise performance a sure bet by enabling data-backed decision-making at every level of their operations.
Internally, wider access to BI solutions can make all employees more accountable while supporting greater consistency in performance management. And externally, partner relationships can be strengthened through effective sharing of data and key performance indicators (KPIs).
According to IDC, an elevated interest in BI and analytics can be traced back as far as 2008. Studies then showed that data analysis was a top priority for nearly half of survey respondents. Judging by the expanding offerings of enhanced BI and analytics products from software providers, the demand has not abated.
Despite technological advancements, making truly pervasive use of business intelligence in an organization is not a simple thing. Even when well managed, the costs for promoting and implementing pervasive BI can be high due to:
- Defining metrics and KPI
- Assembling, cleansing, staging, and analyzing data
- Disseminating and presenting information
And as organizations move further along the path toward pervasive BI, the needs and requirements of end users increase, resulting in a widening gap between the demand for and supply of business analytics solutions.
If human capital and IT resources remain tight, prioritizing activities that support the greatest diffusion of BI throughout an organization and to external stakeholders is advised. In a white paper — Improving Organizational Performance Through Pervasive Business Intelligence – IDC identified five key factors that have the strongest influence on BI pervasiveness.
It’s hard not to think “duh” when IDC says training is important to promoting pervasive business analytics. But training goes far beyond teaching users how to access data with a dashboard. IDC stresses that companies need to make sure people know how to use the data to truly improve decision-making.
In addition, IDC points out that training should include ongoing reinforcement of BI tenants with ubiquitous presentation of content metadata, or information about the metadata, metric, and KPIs in reports and dashboards.
2. Design Quality
A BI solution must be designed to address not only the needs of various end-user groups but also those of the IT group that support ongoing requirements. A well-designed solution is easier to update with new data sources, new domains, new reports, new metrics, and new data hierarchies. Design quality is measured by a system’s flexibility and organizational agility to respond to ongoing decision support demands.
Dissatisfaction with an IT group’s ability to rapidly respond to new requests is the primary cause for end-users to seek alternative BI solutions to those provided by central IT resources.
Organizations that have more experience using BI to improve performance assign more importance to governance. In fact, IDC noted that organizations that rank themselves as more competitive within their industry tend to place greater importance on data governance.
Makes sense. Without governance, you may not achieve consensus on what the data means – which virtually guarantees that BI will play a non-central role in decision making. Decisions based on unarticulated or estimated data are made in an environment of strategic ambiguity.
4. BI Envy
IDC really calls this factor “Nonexecutive Involvement.” But the common technique they highlight to get more people behind pervasive BI participation is this: find eager participants in a business group, and then provide them with the tools and information that will shine a spotlight on them during meetings and collaborative decision-making sessions.
5. Performance Management Methodology
One of the keys to an effective BI and performance management solution is to ensure a direct connection between business strategy and actionable KPIs as well as a subsequent link between strategic and operational KPIs.
Does it help? Based on IDC’s pervasive BI study, 75% of organizations that rate themselves as most competitive in their industry use a formal performance management methodology.
Interested in reading more? Download the whitepaper Improving Organizational Performance Through Pervasive BI (no registration required).