As enterprises enter a new era ruled by data, the general understanding that organisations which use data for their strategic advantage perform better than those that don’t become more apparent. As a result, more companies are turning to business intelligence (BI) software to help gain a strategic advantage ,shape their business strategies, improve their products and services, drive cost and process efficiencies,and eliminate pain points from across their operations.

However, simply implementing a BI tool is not enough. Certain aspects which encompass the entire organisation need to be considered in order to improve the chances of a successful BI implementation.

Four factors to BI success

Below are our top four factors which will help you ensure a successful BI software implementation.

1. Culture is king

Not every business is prepared or ready to embrace a software application such as a BI tool. In many organisations the right mindset to regularly consider data and analytics for strategic decision-making is missing.  Even though companies have always gathered information about their customers, products and markets, analysis and use of this data aren’t necessarily inherent, consistent or enterprise wide practices. Often businesses are held back from embracing data and analytics from the top, with C-level executives having an over-reliance and misplaced confidence in their experience and ‘gut-instincts’.

Building a data-driven culture must come from the top down.  Analysts will quickly become disillusioned if the insights and recommendations provided by their analysis is continually ignored, or overruled based by those above them on instincts and feelings. It will require changes to how people think and behave throughout the organisation. The data must be accessible to everyone, and everyone must understand the value of the data for their specific roles and the overall success of the business, only then will the BI solution become part of the culture.

2. Value data as an asset

The increasing dependence on technology in our daily lives has made every business a digital business. Data is collected across the entire enterprise, often in remote offices, disconnected departments and disparate silos. This results in disconnected business planning and poorly informed decision-making.

Data needs to be viewed and treated as a significant business asset, with the requisite level of care and attention provided to such an asset. We see all too often corrections and journals done to amend erroneous data with no further foresight than the current reporting period. While this ensures you meet your reporting deadlines, if this amendment is not done correctly or completely it can have significant flow on effects, with your ability to correctly analyse this data impacted further down the line.

Once a company becomes data driven and wishes to embrace Business Intelligence, the next steps are to put in place the tools and procedures to ensure raw data is as accurate and timely so that this can be turned into actionable intelligence.

3. Implement the right technology

It is known that if the technology is difficult to use or access, or doesn’t provide the functionality expected or requested employees will likely become disconnected and won’t use it. Therefore, choosing the right BI application for your business has never been more important, and in some cases the desired solution may not actually be a BI tool at all.

Whilst at their core BI tools are all about visualisations, the most important aspect to be considered when selecting the right tool is the ‘backend’, where the data is structured. Things such as data connection options, and ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) capabilities will ultimately determine the ability of the selected tool to extract the required data, cleanse and integrate it as required to provide these visualisations.  There is no benefit in having the nicest looking charts if they don’t tell the whole story or show the correct or useful information.

Once the data and visualisations are ready employees don’t want to have to submit requests forms for reports, to then receive an email with static outdated spreadsheets. They want to see what is happening right now, dynamic dashboards and reports, with the information presented in an easy-to-understand way. While culture, quality data and engaged stakeholders play vital roles in a successful BI initiative, ultimately, it is the choice of the underlying technology, and those you choose to implement it, that will make it work.

4. Analysis is key

Once implemented and your BI tool is in use and quality data is flowing from departments and resources into the central database, the next critical process for BI success is its use within your performance analysis process, and the success of this is determined by the success of the first 3 steps.

Making business decisions based on data is a competitive advantage, and it is a competitive advantage because it is still not widely practiced. With the right culture, accurate and timely data, analytics becomes much more efficient and effective. With improved analytics you can begin to make better decisions based on better intelligence. The business outcomes of these decisions can then be tracked back to show how analytics and BI influenced these decisions, created revenue-generating opportunities, increased operational efficiencies, and improved customer service.

With the correct implementation your BI tool will become a single-source-of-the-truth for your business. It will facilitate a level of analysis that will eliminate doubt and wonder while uncovering what is really going on with your business.

BI and Your Bottom Line

These are our top four factors that can influence the success of your BI implementation, and ultimately have a positive impact on your bottom line. Others which we have not discussed above, and which come later on in the process include, deciding which decision to make based on the analysis, monitoring progress of decisions made, and constantly reviewing and refining the BI tool, it’s data and visualisations and analytics provided.

As BI becomes more engrained in your business culture, it can have a dramatic impact on how you engage your customers, create and market new products and services, and develop strategies that benefit your bottom line.

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