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Business intelligence is gain a lot of attention in successful organizations. And for good reason – there is a correlation between more advanced use of data and a positive impact on bottom-line earnings and business overall performance. It comes down to this – organizations which successfully leverage their data for insight and strategic advantage perform better and move with the market faster than those that do not.
Those groups which embrace technology that allows for data visualization and discovery – correctly –achieve success more often those who don’t at all – or do so incorrectly. Developing a plan for using quality data to their advantage keep these organizations from being left behind. Here are some tips on how to get started:

  1. Have a vision: BI technology is ubiquitous and new advances are made almost weekly. New technologies allow for data visualization and data discovery allows for the exploration of data in intuitive ways. However, that is like saying new darts are as accurate as drone missiles but missing a dartboard. Fundamentally there must be something to aim at – and in BI this comes down to figuring out what questions to ask and work out which data matters the most. Leveraging BI requires an insight into the big picture – one that receives support across all organizational functions and establishes how the organization can successfully evolve with a clear vision.
  2. Business outcomes must be defined: The Cheshire Cat said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” For your BI project to succeed it is important to set specific and measurable targets. Begin by leveraging a mix of top-down and bottom-up approaches to recognize potential business use cases. Using a top down approach can be used to spot KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and bottom up approach can be used to determine the data to improve the KPIs. It is advisable to achieve quick wins – use cases which can be improved in a short period of time to lock-in ongoing business support.
  3. Build the team structure: Generally, a lack of skills is one of the main obstacles in building a successful business intelligence team. When a sufficient number of people with the right skillsets are missing, either in organizations, or the marketplace optimal use of data cannot be achieved. A best practice adopted by the leading data revolution companies is to appoint a chief insight officer or a chief data officer to establish actionable insights.
  4. Create a governing group: When you consider implementing a business intelligence solution creating a Center of Excellence comprised of people who understand both – the company’s business and the IT environment – is highly recommended. This team can help build a BI system that is flexible and adaptable, two very important factors if the analytics solution is to stay relevant as the business evolves.
  5. Stress the technology: Many BI tools are architected as hierarchical, top-down data structures. This is easy to organize the data behind the scenes but limits the users to a predefined path required to find the data that is needed. Other tools are associative in nature which allows data to be ‘discovered’ intuitively much the way information is uncovered using, for example, a Google search. Obtain trial versions of both types and have a pilot group (or groups) stress-test these to uncover which approach best suits your needs.

Big data analytics is a big trend in the business world today and for good reason. However, as with everything in business, there is no one-size-fits approach. Every business has unique needs. However, by starting with the end in mind and working backwards, instead of buying-in a system and then adapting your organizational culture to shoe-horn-fit-it-in, you are likely to discover the best way to grow your business with the help of your business intelligence system.

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