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What is a Business Intelligence(BI) Strategy? Why should you care? The phrase has been increasingly used by organizations to recognize effective use of business intelligence and taking BI programs to the next level.  Do you have one?  If you are looking at your architecture slide, then let’s explore some of the myths around BI strategy.

Myth 1: BI Strategy is all about Technology and Architecture

BI strategy is often misrepresented as architecture diagrams with several data sources feeding into an enterprise datawarehouse and shiny tools that access data from the datawarehouse. The technology and architecture are certainly key pieces of a BI strategy.  However they are not the only ones.  A good strategy will allow organizations to determine where there are today vs. where they would like to go (envisioned state), what the gaps are between current and future state, and your strategy for closing those gaps. It also helps align IT and Business – identify the various needs across the organization, prioritize them and deliver analytical capabilities that can address these pain points.

Myth 2:  BI Strategy is one time effort

Organizations typically work on a BI strategy when they start a BI project or expanding their existing BI project.  Often times, they spend days or weeks to define different aspects of BI strategy and lose focus once they get into the execution of the strategy.  BI strategy is not one time effort.  The world is changing constantly and hence businesses have to be prepared for the future.  Businesses have to innovate and update business initiatives and strategies to meet these market conditions.  A good BI strategy is a continuous cycle – that aligns these business objectives with information, technology and processes.  It enables that continuous dialogue between Business and IT with a shared vision and the entire organization marching towards that vision.

Myth 3:  We will build and they will come

IT organizations sometimes build technology solutions and expect their business stakeholders to leverage them.  It is important to put yourself in your end users or customer’s shoe and tie technology back to business initiatives.  Establishing a BI competency center (BICC) or a similar community of practice is a critical element to success of your BI program. An effective BICC is part of your overall BI strategy  that will help you understand business needs, increase BI adoption, and ensure your organization is providing the right analytical capabilities to your end users. Thus delivering business value expected from the business.

Myth 4: BI success cannot be measured

There is a myth that success of BI cannot be measured.  Defining the value of BI may be challenging, however it is not an impossible task. There are many ways of measuring ROI for BI programs.  You can define and measure qualitative and quantitative benefits of BI.  Quantitative benefits are the ones that can be measured and realized in financial quantitative terms  i.e. in dollar values– for example labor costs and increased sales.  Qualitative benefits can be critical or strategic benefits, but cannot assign a dollar value to it – for example by implementing this BI strategy, marketing department is expecting to reduce customer churn in the coming years.

Myth 5:  Creating information driven culture is a corporate problem

You could have the right BI solution, but it could be doomed to failure because of political and cultural issues.  Culture is an invisible force that drives common values, attitudes and behavior. Believe it or not, it is silently guiding the activity in your workplace.  How can you as an individual create information driven culture in your organization? Getting an executive information champion is the first step to the cultural transformation.  When executives start embracing information as essential to business success, you will see that behavior across the enterprise. You certainly need to understand your end user/customer’s work practices so you can bring information closer to them – for example if you are delivering information to your sales reps on the road, you need to provide access to information on mobile devices.  Make information consumption and sharing interactive and fun – a good example is SAP Data Geek contest . Make it part of your training program –  develop and advocate data contests that your end users can participate and announce winner every week or month. Promote BI success stories through corporate portals, newsletters etc.


How can BI Strategy make a difference in your organization?

High performing companies use analytics to achieve their goals.  Study from Nucleus Research shows that organizations earn an average of $10.66 for every dollar spent on deployments of analytics. A BI strategy can help you reach the highest level of competency.   It helps you to improve end user adoption and satisfaction, better flexibility to respond to changes,  avoid information fragmentation and save money and boost revenue.

If you are interested in building a BI strategy for your organization, check out this BI strategy assessment

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