About

The Business Intelligence Guide Blog [BIG Blog] aims to keep you up to date with the latest trends in BI and industry happenings. We welcome your viewpoint, even when it doesn’t agree with ours.

Who Writes the BI Blog – well that’s just me, Gail La Grouw. I regard myself as a Logic Evangelist – which is a subset of what many know as BI Evangelist. My focus is very much on helping businesses improve the execution of their strategy through better decision making and better processes – what I call ‘Leading with SPI [Strategic Performance Improvement].

However, this blog focuses more on the BI Evangelist.

So What is A BI Evangelist, and Why Are They Critical To Business?

With the predictions of the current economy ranging across the spectrum of highly pessimistic to somewhat optimistic, many corporate leaders are understandably nervous about the future. During the 2000-2001 recession, nearly 40 percent of leading US industrial companies toppled out of the top quartile in their sectors. Today, 15 percent of companies in this quartile have yet to even start business during this period. Regardless of whether you are an existing or about to emerge business, strategic flexibility is the key to surviving this round.

Strategic flexibility requires:

  • A strong balance sheet – to take advantage of acquisitions and asset purchases at bargain prices.
  • Operating flexibility – take advantage of impacts such as normal attrition by replacing salaried employees with part-time employees to cut costs quickly without disruption to core workforce.
  • Diverse product offerings across more markets – allows expansion of the  customer base as competitors withdraw.

That all seems relatively straight forward – but how do businesses plan for the recession lasting longer and being deeper than expected, compared to being over in just a few months one way or the other. The answers to these ‘what-if’ scenarios can be found in powerful modeling tools that provide impact analyses on different economic scenarios. Coupled with rolling forecasts, a business is much better equipped to both accurately anticipate and effectively respond to whatever changes occur.

The job of a BI Evangelist is to help management teams, sales people and other business users leverage the use of knowledge contained in their data warehouse. For example, I teach them more logical ways to make decisions, the value of the information they have, and how they can use it to get the information they need. I work with the business side of the organization, not IT, so am able to communicate the value of data warehousing and business intelligence in terms business users can understand and relate to.

Improving Analytic IQ

At a practical level, BI evangelists work closely with senior executives and managers to help them get the most out of the new BI resource. This can take different formats, with sometimes one-on-one session with business executives, to group training sessions – serving as a “personal BI trainer.” Getting the business educated in using BI is a critical role to achieving a positive ROI to BI investment. Executives who recognize the dramatic impact BI can have, naturally act as champions to the rest of the business and are more supporting of signing of BI Project budgets. The most effective way to market the BI and engender trust in BI across the business is to have executives who use it on a regular basis.

On a strategic level, BI evangelists help improve the “analytic IQ” of the organization. They observe what business users are trying to accomplish and help them learn how to frame questions, queries, and reports that will shed new insight on processes they manage and tasks they perform. In some cases, the BI evangelist can even help users better understand what actions to take and how to gauge the effectiveness of those actions. In short, the BI Evangelist can help users become better analysts and logical thinkers, something that many people say is in short supply in organizations today.

Training and Education

Although 1:1 coaching may be the only workable solution at the executive level, wider training is typically done with power users nominated from each department.  These power users can then create reports and dashboards for their group and provide first-line support and training to individual users.

Power users typically have a high understanding of technology – yet are immersed in the business, interacting daily with the colleagues whom they will support. BI responsibilities will both supplement and replace their current duties – often requiring a restructure in their job responsibilities and even an increase in pay.

Marketing the Resource

Besides training and education, a big part of the BI Evangelist’s responsibility is to market the BI through all possible channels. This is achieved by communicating with business users through newsletters, email, corporate intranet, and departmental and company meetings. The evangelist seeks to get executives to recognize the value of BI in corporate in-house publications as well as annual reports, shareholders’ meetings, and interviews with the press.

In addition, the BI Evangelist religiously monitors usage of BI through systems management tools. By charting usage metrics, including named users, daily users, the number of reports and queries submitted, response times, and so on, they can continually recommend ways to optimize the employment and engagement with BI, to increase ROI with minimal effort.

Conclusion

Building an elegant BI solution is not enough to guarantee success. It is merely the start. The key is to ensure that your target users not only log on to the system after it’s first deployed but on a continual basis. For that to happen, they need to trust the system and know how to get the most out of it.

BI evangelists play a critical role in monitoring BI usage and developing ongoing training and marketing programs to ensure the organization is maximizing its investment in BI. Smart companies appoint BI evangelists as an insurance policy to guarantee the value and payoff of their BI investments.

Please also feel free to use the comment field on this page to notify us of any errors or outdated content on the main BIG website.

Gail La Grouw
BIG  Blog Editor

One Response

  1. sisense Says:

    Hi,

    I would be glad if you could review SiSense PrismCubed, I think you will be surprised how easy BI could be.

    You can contact me for a presentation interview or any other question.

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