BI Focus Moving From Dashboards to Data Mining

Analytics, BI Program, Data Visualization No Comments

The need for business visibility is finally leading to attention to BI in the executive suite. In a recent report by Aberdeen, it was found that 47% of BI projects are now being driven by senior executives, signalling  significant turn-around from past years.

With business landscapes changing so quickly today, business leaders are finally recognising that they can no longer rely on past experiences to make decisions. The move away from relying totally on gut feeling and supporting decisions with fact-based data is a significant turnaround – and one that is well overdue.

The window of time in which critical business decisions must be made is rapidly shrinking, and a lack of visibility into both the businesses current performance as well as the current market make decision making a risky business.

Interestingly, the study also claimed that those executives which are actively engaging with traditional BI reports and dashboards are finding that they raise more questions than answers. This is leading decision makers to deeper analytical tools – moving from a pre-defined to an an-hoc BI environment.

Aberdeen Benchmark Report – Visual Business Intelligence. Enabling Discovery and Delivery of Insight


What’s Missing From Business Intelligence?

Analytics, BI Program, BI Strategy No Comments

So often we hear about how analytics is being used in business to:

  • Improve marketing campaign ROI
  • Predict and prevent fraud
  • Improve merchandising profitability
  • Get products to market faster

It is easy to think that this is through the sheer power or business intelligence tools, such as analytics. What we don’t hear about is what is underneath these tools – and I am not talking about IT infrastructure. The real power behind BI analytics is the culture of fact-based decision making. This is the area that is not being given enough focus, in spite of many studies telling us that more than half of those who have BI tools available to them, don’t really understand how to use them.

Real returns from BI takes a change in people and process, not just technology. There is a commitment to building a fact-based decision making culture. Whether it is to identify your most profitable customers, accelerate product innovation, optimize your supply chain or product portfolio, unless you are able to identify and measure your true drivers of financial performance, you will not enjoy the full value of BI.

Two books I recommend [by Gail La Grouw] for closing this gap around business intelligence are:

Sell More And Have Your Customers Love You For It – detailing how to use analytics to power up the sales pipeline and resolve some all too common sales management issues, and

Leading With SPI : Driving Productivity and Profit With Strategic Performance Improvement

BICC – Value or Vault?

BI Infrastructure, BI Program, BI Strategy No Comments

As a Strategic Performance Consultant doing a lot of work in the BI arena I am often asked about the real value of Business Intelligence Competency Centers [BICC]. Many businesses struggle to see the benefits in the early days of BI, regarding the BICC as a compliance discipline that is likely to act as a bottleneck, swallowing up their projects, dampening enthusiasm and frustrating progress.

As BICCs have started to emerge more frequently in the last few years, there is little in the way of long term case studies to sway the sceptics, so what I suggest must be taken with an element of good faith. A properly structured BICC can do more to progress your BI Roadmap than any other element of the BI Program. It is not just a standardisation body – it also acts as the Evangelist for business intelligence throughout the business. One of the first tasks of the BICC is to identify the best opportunities for BI. This requires educated assessment – something many business units have not had the advantage of achieving in their already overloaded schedules. The BICC can act either formally, or informally to guide business groups in assessing the benefits of incorporating BI and help them become more aware of how BI is used – beyond better reporting!. Read the rest…

What Drives the Best BI TCO?

Analyst Reports, BI Program, BI Strategy No Comments
I always look forward to the reports on BI from the Aberdeen Group to get a global perspective of how BI projects are being deployed and how well users are engaging with BI tools. The latest April 2010 report focused on TCO, in particular the cost per BI user. According to the report, during the previous 12 months, the average total expenditure per BI User*:
  • Best in Class – $357
  • Industry Average – $968
  • Laggard $ 3,321
So just what is behind this significant variance in expenditure, what is it that best in class are doing at a lesser cost than other BI initiatives. According to other findings in the report Best in class BI teams:
  • Had a clearly defined BI strategy – including a strategy for BI data management
  • Had standard processes for gathering end user BI requirements
  • Were 2.9 times more likely to formally develop BI knowledge and skills amongst users
  • Were 1.8 times more likely to track BI project costs to budget
  • Were 1.7 times more likely to automate the creation of reports.
The overall message is that BI TCO is not only about the technology. It is largely impacted by the transformational efforts made to define a BI strategy, manage BI project roadmap iterations, and to educate users on how to extract more value from their BI tools.
* The TCO View of Business Intelligence – How to Get the Most Bang for Your Analytical Buck. Michael Lock. April 2010.
You can find copies of this report on the website.

New Releases in The Logical Organization Management Insight Series

BI Program, BI Strategy, BI Theory, Cloud BI, Cloud Computing, CPM 1 Comment

I am really excited to announce the release of two new additions to the TLO Management Insight Series:

  • Leading With SPI
  • Getting to Cloud

Leading with SPI – Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI - Driving Productivity and Profit using Strategic Performance Improvement

Leading with SPI provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to driving better strategic definition and more effective and efficient strategic execution. Using the powers of business intelligence, the key decisions of the business are focused around those points where real improvement can be made. SPI transforms the outlook of business leaders from a backward facing measurement system using traditional lagging indicators, to a more future focused KPI based performance improvement capability that delivers more opportunities to improve and move ahead of competition.

SPI starts with deconstruction of measurable strategic objectives to help focus the business on what’s most important, and by following a simple process, identifies the questions that must be answered at each key decision point.

The KPI used to measure performance are grouped around these key decision points, ensuring that what must be done, gets measured. And, gets focused upon!

Find out more about Leading with SPI by clicking here.

Getting to Cloud – Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Getting to Cloud - Discovering New Business Opportunities with Cloud Computing

Cloud is the missing power base that underpins data warehouses and advanced analytics. So many businesses are either prevented from implementing BI solutions or stall early into the project through the lack of processing power or clean data quality management. Cloud provides the opportunity to leverage the significant benefits of BI, without reliance on outdated, overloaded IT infrastructures.

Cloud computing is so much more than a power base for BI – with its foundation in virtualization technology, it is the platform that will transform the competitive base of business. No longer will small businesses be constrained in competing against their larger competitors through lack of IT resources. Cloud remedies that.

Cloud also impacts the IT reseller market – rather than disintermediation of resellers, Cloud offers an expanse of new service and product opportunities that were previously beyond the technical or financial scope.

Getting to Cloud looks at the questions both buyers and sellers need to be asking themselves right NOW. It provides detailed ROI case analysis and savings data for use in business cases…and so much more.

Find out more about Getting to Cloud by clicking here

Avoid the KPI Crazies

BI Program No Comments

BI tools have developed significantly over the past few years, and one positive move is the ability of end users to create and publish their own dashboards. The benefits of self pubishing dashboards include:

  1. Rapid deployment of BI tools to meet individual needs – no input from IT is required
  2. Customization of the dashboard to a user group of 1
  3. Instant update of dashboards to meet changing needs

However, there are also a few drawbacks. Firstly, KPI clutter – too many KPI on a single dashboard. This is a common mistake my many new users of dashboards as they seek to add more and more value. In reality, they are reducing the value by reducing the visibility of primary KPI with a lot of clutter. Just as we saw the aptly name ‘spreadmart’ fever, we are now seeing evidence of the KPI Crazies.

The number of KPI depend very much on the type of business, department or role. However, as a general rule of thumb the max is 10. Many dashboards provide all the necessary information in just 4 KPI. The key is to recognize the difference between KPI and KRA. KRA refer to key results areas. KRA’s are more operational in that they refer to key activities and people contributing to a process, whereas KPI are more exact, referring to the outcome of processes that contribute directly to strategic goals.

Consider Albert Einstein’s quote:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Check out more common BI Program Mistakes

Fast Way to Calculate your BI Costs

BI Program, BI Solutions, on Demand BI No Comments

PivotLink have a useful BI cost calculator to help you compare your current or potential BI costs against industry data published by TDWI.

Naturally, on-demand BI vendors PivotLink are keen to provide a comparison on the cost of on-demand BI compared to inhouse solutions, however I congratulate them on helping business and technical managers make this decision. As the author of  The Logical Organization, I support anything that helps businesses make better decisions.

So check it out here – it is very easy to use, and you can quickly see how each key component of your BI solution impacts your bottom line, including:

  • BI software licensing costs
  • Database costs
  • Hardware costs
  • Staffing costs

Note: The 2008 TDWI BI Benchmark Report: Organization and Performance Metrics for BI Teams based on a web survey of 392 BI professionals found that the median capital budget spending on BI in 2008 was $260,000 while median BI maintenance costs were $235,000.

Overcoming Common BI Program Mistakes

BI Program, BI Strategy, IT Strategy No Comments

The business environment is a complex interplay of internal and external forces that must be supported by agile, efficient and compliant technology. Business intelligence technology is the most affected capability by under-performing IT infrastructure and stagnant, poor quality information.

In an attempt to provide a quick fix to an organizations business intelligence needs, common errors come into play that not only prevent the speedy solution, but can plague a more robust BI program implementation.

The most common BI Program mistakes largely involve incorrect assumptions: Read the rest…