Implementing business intelligence (BI) throughout an entire organization is a big undertaking in terms of time, money and effort. But don’t let this discourage your company from making the jump—the return on investment over time can be well worth it. Strategizing ahead of time and making sure everyone’s on the same page will help your company effectively monetize the data it’s been storing.
Here are three tips for companies aiming to choose and deploy the best BI technology for their needs.
Align Business Goals with BI Objectives
Ask yourself: Why is your organization implementing BI? Hint: “Just because” and “everyone else in our sector is doing it” are not compelling enough answers to justify the investment. Having BI simply because you feel you “should” is an expensive way to risk employees underutilizing these systems.
The best BI addresses specific, measurable goals your business has. As Computer Weekly outlines, here are three core business objectives BI projects are capable of addressing:
- Increasing customer base and satisfaction.
- Expanding existing markets.
- Growing revenues.
Rather than treating the implementation of BI as the end goal here, think of BI as a vehicle for helping to achieve underlying business objectives. Your company’s exact goals will depend on the nature of your business, of course. But the principle stands. Understanding your specific business goals will help you determine what you want and need your BI to do. Only then can you adopt and deploy a system that will meet your needs.
Choose the Best Platform for Your Needs
The platform you choose will have the biggest day-to-day impact on how users within your organization engage with BI. The St. Louis Business Journal advises companies ask themselves two questions before choosing a platform: “What functionality do we need?” and “Who will be using this platform?”
Traditional BI systems tend to require IT specialists to handle all things data—from cleaning and storing to generating reports. So, traditional interfaces usually cater to people with a background in data rather than aiming to be accessible for a wide range of users. One of the main sticking points with these legacy systems was that the window of time between a non-technical user requesting a report and getting results could be days, weeks or months. It all really depended on how big of a reporting backlog IT departments were facing at any given time. “Average” end users tend to be removed from working with data, instead working through gatekeepers to get the insights they needed.
The rise of self-service business intelligence from platforms removes the barriers between employees and BI reporting, allowing people across departments to ask questions and get answers themselves. User-friendly interfaces allow people without a background in data to type in queries, generate charts based on their findings and embed insights into workflows. More companies are leaning toward self-service BI because they speed up insights, tend to cut down hassle for employees and enable ad hoc queries on the fly.
Create a Data-First Company Culture
Your BI platform may do the actual data crunching, but the underlying culture determines how people regard data as a whole. A data-driven culture means people are comfortable incorporating data insights into decision-making, i.e. they actually use the tools available to them. The last thing you want is an empty top-down mandate requiring employees to use data—without the fundamental culture to support it.
First of all, leaders throughout your organization must “put their money where their mouths are.” Lead by example. Incorporate data into meetings, communications and performance reviews. Make data analytics a staple part of your company portal and business applications. Train employees on how tools work so they’re comfortable using them without constant IT assistance.
Effectively implementing business intelligence in your company is a matter of creating a data-first organizational culture, choosing the best tools for the job and aligning BI with your larger goals.