What is a Business Intelligence Strategy and do you need one?
Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information to support better decision making.
A BI Strategy is a roadmap that enables businesses to measure their performance and seek out competitive advantages and truly "listen to their customers" using data mining and statistics.
Why is it important?
BI is essential for business growth and to maintain competitive advantage. In order to keep abreast of changing customer behaviour in the market it is important for organisations to recognise the value of the information customers provide so that they can alter their strategic vision and gain new perspective.
Information from customers can be the catalyst for changes such as new product development or product enhancements which are crucial to meet changing customer demands.
Who is responsible for BI?
Whilst BI is about technology and systems it also needs to be embedded in, and supported by, the key Business areas.
A BI strategy should include multiple stakeholders and a sponsor to lead the implementation. It may be tempting to consider the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technical Officer (CTO) as the sponsor. This is usually not the best approach. BI should be sponsored by an executive who has bottom-line responsibility, a broad picture of the organisation’s strategy and goals and knows how to translate the company mission into mission focused KPIs.
CFOs and CMOs are good fits. They can govern the implementation with a documented business case and be responsible for changes in scope. Of course whoever the chosen sponsor is, they will need to be in constant communication with the CIO/CTO.
To succeed, a BI strategy must have the support of key business areas, from the outset and according to Gartner 'Data and analytics leaders must show how their programs both contribute to and are necessary for an organization’s strategy'.
IT should be involved to ensure governance, knowledge transfer, data integrity, and the actual implementation. But every stakeholder and their respective business areas should also be involved throughout the process.
The business as a whole must be willing to dedicate the necessary resources; staff, IT resources, costs, etc. BI implementation doesn’t just come out of the IT budget. The best business intelligence strategy lays out these resources in the beginning, with additional wiggle room. What are the benefits of BI systems?
Business intelligence products turn data into insights and actions that organisations can use to increase their understanding of the forces shaping markets and businesses to help them stay one step ahead of their competitors.
According to a survey of 2600 business intelligence users by BI-Survey.com the following are the top seven benefits:
- Faster reporting, analysis or planning
- More accurate reporting ,analysis or planning
- Better business decisions
- Improved data quality
- Improved employee satisfaction
- Improved operational efficiency
- Improved customer satisfaction
We've covered what a BI strategy is, why it's important and what the benefits are. This brings us to the question - do you need one? If you want to keep abreast of changing customer behaviour, maintain your organisations competitive advantage and stay one step ahead of your rivals, then I would say yes.