Everything About Business Intelligence Advancement – Business Intelligence is a means of transforming raw data into useful insights. It allows you to collect data from different sources, organize it, and then enjoy the analysis. Do you need it? Probably yes, because it’s the most balanced view of business you can get. But as you can guess, embarking on such a complex endeavor requires some preparation and we hope to help you with that. And if you’ve already started some BI processes in your company, this article will also help you get organized. Now, let’s talk about your business intelligence strategy.
A BI strategy will allow you to address all your data problems and needs, develop a cohesive system, and maintain it. What happens when you start implementing BI without a strategy? Basically, you focus a lot on getting those graphs but no one in the company understands why and how to use them. Here’s a simple example of life before and after a BI strategy.
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Previously, we posted a guide to implementing BI practices in your organization. Now, we’ll dive into one of the steps of your implementation plan – documenting the BI strategy.
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Vision. Why are you creating a BI practice in your company and what do you want to achieve?
Tools and Architecture. What dashboards and solutions do we want to build? For which areas? And what impact will they have on those areas?
So, when you look at your company’s corporate strategy, you imagine what BI initiatives you want to launch. That vision then helps you choose the right people who will use and maintain the chosen processes. To support people and processes, you use software tools. And finally, you establish the architectural blueprint for its development. Now let us know about those steps in detail. And we’ll start with businesses that already have some form of BI.
To know where you’re going, you need to set a baseline. Let’s say, you know that multiple departments are using analytics, but the data is mostly hidden – marketing people don’t have access to sales information, and customer support uses user feedback for their own internal purposes. Basically, it appears to work but how effectively it is unclear – tracking, or perhaps no analytics at all.
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So, the first thing to do is talk to all the players in the current BI processes: users and the IT team, department managers and stakeholders. As a result, you should have answers to the following questions:
Then, compile a SWOT analysis to organize what you’ve found. SWOT analysis, one of the main strategy-building tools, will help you reveal your main assets and problems for the next step.
A vision is a combination of purpose and direction. There is no strategy without vision. This manifests itself in a number of important decisions, such as what data we will source or who will have access to the insights.
An approach also has a very general purpose: to explain to people in your organization – who already have their preferred tools and processes – why they need new ones, and how the change will happen.
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Our corporate approach to BI is to build and support an infrastructure with secure and authorized access to data held anywhere in the enterprise. Our corporate standard for BI tools is ________. We staff and measure our BI Competency Center based on end-user satisfaction surveys and successful deployments. A significant segment of our end-user community requires near real-time data access. Therefore, we have provided such infrastructure to accommodate them. We currently support ___ users representing ___% of our user population. Our goal is to increase utilization to ___% by (date). We weigh the potential cost of increased BI usage against the business value and ROI we get. This way, we have a clear view of our success that is measured, accountable, and defensible.
Byre also noted that a vision expressed this way would help stop executives whose only goal is to provide employees with cheap equipment and get back to “real work.”
Finally, the vision is often accompanied by a BI maturity model – the scale that tells you how mature your strategy is. You can find some explanations of maturity models on the web, one of which is a very popular model coming from Gartner. According to him, there are five maturity levels for BI: unaware, opportunistic, standards, enterprise, transformational. Using these models helps you identify your areas of progress and what your next goals might be.
BI governance is about defining and implementing the BI infrastructure. (Not to be confused with data governance, which ensures the consistent use of data across an organization.) It includes three components:
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Define BI governance members, their roles and responsibilities, tasks, goals, and relationships with various structures in your company. Involve people at all levels, from executives to end users, to bring all your perspectives to the table. So, it’s not really a group of BI experts, but a board of representatives from different company sectors.
However, larger enterprises will benefit from an all-expert group in the Business Intelligence Competency Center (BICC). BICCs help identify data requirements, establish data governance structures, monitor data quality, and oversee common data integration processes. These programmers, data scientists and analysts are experts in relational databases and reporting tools. If you have a group of experts or the resources to hire them, we recommend setting up such a team.
The BI lifecycle is a framework to support BI efforts or the architecture and tools used specifically for it. Generally, the architecture looks like a pipeline starting with the data sources (your ERP, external sources, etc.), then follows the data integration process, or ETL, where the data is transformed and stored in the repositories (data warehouses and is loaded into the data mart). The data is ultimately displayed in dashboards and interactive tools. There are some architectural styles with different configurations of system elements.
Choosing BI tools. Depending on your confidence level, you can get an entire platform or create your own mix for each step of the BI process. You can also find a perfect match price-wise or depending on whether you want to deploy on-premises or in the cloud. Use our guide to the best BI tools to help you with this task.
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Drafting the data integration process. Define data sources and make sure your BI tool can assess them. Make sure the data is of high quality and establish processes for data preparation. Consider the architecture of the data warehouse.
Ensuring data presentation. Establish what types of reports and dashboards your system will display based on end-user needs and KPIs. Use our guide for some data visualization ideas where we also list some useful tools and libraries.
Conducting user acceptance testing. User acceptance testing is an often overlooked but important process, where you ask end users to perform certain tasks and collect output information about the usability and performance of the system. Then you create test cases, choose the time to test, and choose the necessary tools.
Training performance. End users must be trained to understand the basics of data and use the visualization platform. Before this, non-BI skilled members of the governance team must be trained to understand the data transformation steps. Basically, identify where the knowledge gap is and make sure to fill it as soon as possible.
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In addition to training, prepare to serve users and solve their problems. Establish a feedback process and decide how you can respond to this as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Having a user support framework means you cover them from three perspectives:
Data education support – Provide a knowledge base for users to find answers about incoming data: metadata, data purpose, metrics, data sources, etc.
Tool support – If possible, choose tools with end users, then establish agreed-upon timelines for issue response, and explain what channels or contacts they can use to get support.
Business support – Make sure end users not only understand the data but also know how to get value from it. Assign consultants to each department to help users learn how to provide value through BI tools, what metrics and dimensions to look at, and how to pinpoint data trends.
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Here, a roadmap is a visual document that displays the deliverables at different stages of implementation within a time-frame. By this step, you already have all the data you need to organize and schedule on the map, you just need to set deadlines and deliverables for each task.
The roadmap may include only high-level tasks such as “find a BI vendor” or it may be limited to “list the top ten best matches”, but for strategic mapping, a high-level overview will suffice. Below is an example of such a roadmap spanning three quarters. It has deliverables and milestones and tasks are divided by teams.
Our guide to creating a roadmap will help you further, but we’ll reiterate some key ideas here.
The logic behind a strategy document is that it will be a reference point for the entire organization and will be used for strategy presentation. What sections should this document include?
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