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January 2, 2013

2013: BI Do’s and Don’ts

By Stefanie Hoffman

It’s the dawn of a new year, and users are compiling 2013 resolutions. For businesses, these likely include new strategies and revised best practices to accelerate business, increase profits and achieve a higher ROI. Their laundry list of resolutions should also include a refreshed perspective on business intelligence and analytics strategies.

According to Deloitte, there are BI dos and don’ts to add to the mix:

Create a Business Case and Outline Expected Benefits: Before rushing to adopt the latest BI solution, users need to know what they want to accomplish, which means nailing down the insights they hope to achieve and how those insights will help them accomplish financial and productivity goals. BI tools will be of little value if users fail to plan.

Invest in User-Friendly BI Tools: Users need to select a solution that’s intuitive, scalable and easily integrates with existing infrastructure. And the solution should enable customizable reporting and analytics delivered in a way that allows users to gain visibility and access a holistic picture for the entirety of their IT environment.

Think Actionable and Take BI in Baby Steps: Users might have lofty BI goals, but they have to be realistic depending on the size, resources and ability of their respective organizations — nothing is going to happen overnight. Users need to implement their strategy in digestible pieces, which means developing and executing a phased approach to grandfather users in.

Assess BI Readiness and Identify Gaps, Issues: Organizations need to know their users — not just IT personnel, the non-technical business users leveraging BI tools. Organizations need to ensure all information and analysis can be shared with decision-makers and regular employees. Assessing the organization’s BI readiness, identifying knowledge gaps and troubleshooting any potential stumbling blocks are top priorities, according to Deloitte. Remember: Adoption is key, and users won’t adopt what they don’t understand.

Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when embarking on BI initiatives:

Don’t Limit BI Vision: Organizations can get trapped in a BI vision that’s too narrow in scope or doesn’t account for critical components or user groups. A successful BI strategy needs an enterprise-wide perspective in the context of the wider BI definition. Although implementation should be iterative, organizations shouldn’t lose sight of the broader vision.

Don’t Rely on the Wrong Data: BI tools are only as good as the information collected. Any analysis will be inaccurate if users collect the wrong data, or if data collection is incomplete. It’s best to err on the side of caution and treat all information as an asset.

Don’t Adopt an Inflexible Approach: No BI strategy is static. Users should treat the BI plan as an evolving and malleable business driver, which means building in an ability to adapt the approach to meet changing business requirements or tailor it to better suit users’ needs.

Need help keeping track of all the Do’s and Don’ts of a BI integration? Focus on the IBM Cognos TechTalk Intelligence Center. It’s as dynamic as the data, applications and processes it serves to advocate. We encourage you to check it out today by clicking here.

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