Successful implementation of business intelligence depends on processes and people rather than on technology.
“The best way to ensure BI success is to set up a business intelligence competency centre – a centre of excellence that focuses on all the elements needed to develop the information that management needs to make better decisions,” says Michael de Andrade, CEO of information solutions specialist EnterpriseWorx.
The BICC is a multi-disciplinary team representing disciplines such as finance, human resources, marketing and IT. It focuses on the strategic objectives of the organisation and addresses data, technology, process, strategy, user and cultural challenges to achieve these.
“BI is a process that depends on people, and the BICC is not a self-standing project that can be managed by IT,” says De Andrade.
“BI is not just about first-class technology and infrastructure. It’s about having a strong team that understands the culture of the organisation. It’s about a team effort between business executives and IT. There is a clear separation of roles, but you need individuals who can bridge the gap and interact at a high-level with decision makers in the organisation.”
The team needs to develop appropriate key performance indicators in line with the business’ strategic objectives so that it can deliver the information needed for managing performance.
“It’s about deciding on the critical areas of the business and then monitoring these in terms of resourcing, skills, finances and technology infrastructure,” says De Andrade. “This ensures a well-oiled business machine that can deliver on its strategic objectives.”
Major roles of the BICC are to obtain executive sponsorship and to ensure that proper governance is in place. Another of its roles is to promote communication across different departments in the organisation to prevent the creation of new BI silos.
The BICC is also charged with supporting and promoting BI across the company. Unless these fundamental building blocks are in place, the BI initiative is unlikely to succeed.
The BICC has three main functional areas: data management, reporting and analytics. These elements ensure that data is accessible, consistent, accurate and relevant so it can be transformed into actionable insights for decision makers.
BI programme management includes data integration, governance and stewardship, co-ordination of internal processes, training and development programmes and change management, and, ultimately, delivering the information that the business needs.
“The aim is to realise the value of enterprise data assets, align all existing BI initiatives and enable the organisation to use information to support business goals,” says De Andrade.
“Other benefits are standardised, reliable data, improved access to information, incorporation of best practices and faster cross-functional communication for quicker decision making. A BICC can deliver trusted information when and where it is needed, enabling the business to sweat its data assets to support its strategic objectives.
“The BICC is a living thing. If not given sustenance, it will die. It needs to be underpinned by the right processes and be continually fed with updated information so that it remains relevant within the organisation. The most important part is the people; you need to sell the concept so that management and staff want to take BI to the next level.
"In short: to succeed in BI, keep your approach simple. Make it pertinent to the business. And focus on the people.”