Making your business intelligence project a success

Friday 4 October 2013

Business meeting

In the digital world of 21st century businesses, the power of data is well understood. Company leaders realise that analysing data and gaining business intelligence (BI) from the information can offer numerous benefits - helping to convert leads, boost sales, improve operational processes and increase efficiencies. Data-driven insights empower decision makers in the boardroom, helping them make the right calls at the right time.

To give themselves the best possible chance of capitalising on data, many organisations are investing in BI technology, which can help them gather, integrate and analyse the information they have available to them. Indeed BI technology is quickly going from a nice-to-have to an essential investment, as businesses look to keep pace with their rivals. And as more businesses invest, the importance of ensuring an effective deployment and implementation continues to increase.

Focus on a successful BI deployment

Forrester Research analyst Martha Bennett explained it is the way in which BI solutions are used that makes the real difference to organisations. The approaches they take to data interpretation and analysis may become the key competitive differentiator in business, she suggested.

She said business leaders are constantly looking for ways of increasing the success of their BI projects, and as investment levels increase, they are doing so with "an added sense of urgency". Ms Bennett noted thatBI-related endeavours take some time and effort to get off the ground, and there are instances where poorly-planned implementations have failed to yield positive results.

The Forrester analyst said that by following BI best practice, companies can increase their chances of project success. These are what differentiate the successful deployments of BI technology from those that are less so, she claimed. "Overall, it’s about finding the right balance between business and IT," Ms Bennett added. "When it comes to responsibilities and tasks - neither party can go it alone."

Businesses must develop BI strategies

She claimed that organisations need to be agile with their BI, and aim to deliver self-service. This means selecting an appropriate methodology for the project, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all philosophy.Agility can mean breaking elements of a project into smaller sub-sections, to ensure the various parts of the whole are functioning as intended.

Next, businesses need to establish a solid foundation for their data, as well their BI initiative. This is largely a governance issue - focusing on the management of data within the organisation, and on the BI deployment itself. Organisations need to have a clear idea about how they will capture, store, and further process data.

Ms Bennett claimed that all too often, companies fail to put the 'business' in business intelligence - the result being that BI projects are ultimately unsuccessful. Company bosses need to be engaged in the process, ensuring the project is aligned with organisational goals from the outset, she advised.

Choosing the right technology

Choosing the appropriate technology is also important as businesses plan BI deployments - and this requires a clear idea of the purpose of the project. If necessary, businesses should seek external help from a BI specialist, Ms Bennett claimed. In terms of rolling out solutions across the organisation, she said it is important that potential users receive the necessary education to use the tools. "Make change management and training an integral part of any BI initiative," Ms Bennett urged.

"Increasing data volumes and the variety of data types that firms must process pose a challenge to existing ways of delivering BI and analytics capabilities," Ms Bennett told ComputerWeekly.com. She said increasingly tech-savvy business professionals want to have a greater say in the software tools and hardware devices they use as part of their job, and there is more variety to choose from than ever before. 

"Firms need to adapt their governance frameworks, technology infrastructures, and tools to strike the right balance between enabling the business to get on with its job and maintaining control," Ms Bennett told the news provider. This is necessary to avoid cost overruns, duplication, and compliance breaches, she claimed.

Find out more about Microsoft's business intelligence solutions such as Power BI by clicking here.

Posted by Alex Boardman