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Building BI for the business

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Today’s businesses are starting to understand that BI has more than one facet, and each facet of BI plays a crucial role in an organisation’s overall strategy. Moreover, different BI tools and methods need be used in synchronicity to drive efficiency and effectiveness across the entire business.
Gustav Piater, sales director of Yellowfin South Africa, says a vast assortment of BI services need to be enabled to meet an equally wide range of needs. “The scope of BI must be determined by the business drivers and goals, and must bear in mind the changing business requirements to make sure BI is at all times aligned to the business.”
Because of this, he says BI strategy must not be restrictive, but should use a wide array of processes, technologies, and stakeholders to collect, integrate and analyse data with the aim of helping the organisation make better business decisions.
“BI solutions should empower users to rapidly adapt to any new business needs and the multiple new sources of data,” he explains. “This is why the BI strategy should be carefully formulated long before any implementation has begun. The BI vision should lay out and document the business needs as identified by the stakeholders, illustrating how BI fits into the broader company vision.”
Piater says BI strategy should bear in mind appropriate infrastructure, methodologies, processes, governance, systems, and technologies if it hopes to deliver value and meet the business objectives. “There are several widely-accepted practices when it comes to BI strategy and implementation, and businesses should bear these in mind when embarking on a BI journey, as they can be integral to ensuring the success of any BI investments.”
He says steps to ensuing the success of BI include, firstly, creating a business case and defining the benefits you are hoping to achieve. “Make sure you get buy-in from all the stakeholders, particularly the C-level executives. To do this, remember you will need an enterprise-wide view, and must establish what the criteria for success are. Information must be treated as an asset, and to ensure this, best practices and standards for handling your data must be adopted.”
Also make sure change management procedures are in place, and do an analysis of current state and future state as well as a gap analysis, he suggests. “Define what is actionable, and start implementing step by step, working with frameworks and tried and trusted methodologies. Throughout the process, assess how BI ready your business is, and pinpoint any gaps or issues, and analyse any constraints.”
He says at all times to remember how the BI initiative needs to help the business achieve strategic, tactical, and operational goals. “When designing the BI strategy, you should aim to provide all stakeholders with the ability to gain insight into business data to work on strategic and operational levels. BI is supposed to help the business make more informed decisions.”
BI should boost the entire spectrum of decision making ability in the business, and enable better decisions for long-term goals and planning, bearing in mind industry trends and suchlike. “Companies expect their BI to facilitate better execution of the tactical and operational decisions that the company makes on a daily basis, through more effective harnessing of information.”
A real return on a BI investment can only be reached when BI is adopted by the organisation and permeates throughout the business processes. “More often than not, what is lacking from BI is moving from insight to action and therefore the full potential of BI is not realised.”