Using BI To Power Jump Corporate Performance
Business intelligence has evolved over the past 10-15 years from
defining an 'intelligent organisation' as one that valued collaborative
sharing of knowledge to todays, integrated, highly strategic, management
Business intelligence tools support every day business decisions
on how to operate the business to better achieve corporate objectives.
There are five key components to business intelligence :
- Business strategy, policies and governance surrounding both
corporate data and business intelligence
- Aggregated corporate data stored in large databases such as
the Data Warehouse
- Analytics application capable of analyzing large amounts of
corporate data, tracking business performance, detecting patterns
- Advanced Visualisation Tools – used to present the data
in more meaningful ways using corporate and operational dynamic
- Integration of business intelligence capability into operational
Attempting to implement a business solution without any one of
these components degrades it's effectiveness.
Benefits of BI
A business intelligence solution helps organisation in :
Marketing - by helping to identify market opportunities,
such as where market share is unsatisfactory. Using drill down analytics
and filters, marketing can identify certain products that better
meet the demographics of each area. BI tools enable marketing campaign
managers to track whether strategies for certain markets or customers
are working and driving business value
Financial - using BI tools can help finance better
understand their profitability drivers and identify unacceptable
Sales - gain an accurate view of sale and/or
distribution costs, per channel, per customer, per transaction,
per day. It can also calculate sales commissions, number of sales
closed, highlight good and poor performers. This also applies to
clients and customers, BI can provide instant insight to the exact
profit by company of each sale
Operations - use BI to recognise business areas
of high performance and identify the key performance indicators
[KPI's] to use to measure capability
and much, much more.
Key Steps To Business Intelligence Programs
Implementing business intelligence is not without challenges.
- Ownership of the BI Program - this needs to
be equally shared by both IT and the business
- Ownership of the corporate data - only the
business can really interpret the meaning and significance of
data, therefore data can only be owned by the business
- Implement a solid data and BI governance program
- to ensure that the roles and responsibiilties around BI are
defined, and that the data models required for BI are clearly
- Preparation of data for use in BI environments
- based on the business processes, rules and attributes defined
by the business, data required for business intelligence is extracted
from legacy and transaction systems, cleasnsed, validated and
loaded into a dedicated database, known as a data warehouse. Data
quality is THE biggest unknown quantity in preparing for a BI
implementation. A standard timeline of 4-6 weeks can take over
60 weeks, where poor data management has been the norm [unfortunately,
this is common in far too many companies]
- Skill sets and roles required for BI –
skills required for BI management are outside the scope of normal
IT function. IT must recognise this, and engage or train dedicated
BI analysts and programmers, and data stewards
- Trust by the business in the use of BI tools
- it takes time and patience to encourage business users to change
the way in which they track and measure performance and make decisions.
These changes need to be carefully integrated into all business
processes and users trained sufficiently in both the use of BI
tools and interpretation of the intelligence presentation formats
Integration of BI capability with standard desktop environments.
Business intelligence capabilities such as data governance, master
data management, data quality and BI tool integration is not a one
time event. It is a continuous program of improvement and new upgrades
as changes in the business environment drive changes in the business.
The most successful BI programs start small, with one critical
area of the business that is directly related to a corporate objective.
Choose an area where the outcomes can readily be monitored and reported.
This program then becomes the showcase for future development.
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