Aligning Business Intelligence Strategy with Business Strategy

This is the continuation of the transcript of a Webinar hosted by InetSoft on the topic of "The Importance of Having a BI Strategy". The presenter is Mark Flaherty, CMO at InetSoft.

Mark Flaherty (MF): When we started this Webinar we talked a little bit about BI in general what you can get from it and why a BI strategy is really critical and important. You probably all have seen data like what you see on the slide here today. Clearly, companies who take a more data-driven, fact-driven approach to how they run their company, their organization, they do perform better compared to the competition.

And this is certainly why a BI program is essential. It lets you understand what’s going on and also see the impact and the outcome of decisions in business strategies that you are implementing. So if you take a more data-driven, fact-based, less gut-feel based approach to running your company, definitely, you can expect a competitive differentiation.

Now, in order to make BI successful, you have to have a strategy that underlines that approach. Without one there is a chance that your BI program could fail, but chances are it certainly will not deliver the full value that you would expect from it. As a CIO survey has shown for four years running, BI has been a top investment priority for companies.

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Having a BI Strategy Is a Core Critical Need

At the same time, not everyone has seen the kind of return on investment that you expected in the beginning, or you may not have realized the full rollout to all the users that you thought would benefit from BI. So clearly, having a BI strategy is a really core critical need. And my question to you would be do you actually have one?

Now, I have seen customers say that yes, we have a BI strategy. And then, one of the things that I have seen them show me is an actual BI architecture slide. Now, a BI architecture slide is not a strategy. And if you have a clear, straightforward architecture and you know exactly who you are using for what, what tools you are using, that is good.

But that’s only one component. Something else that I have seen quite a bit is that IT is asking business users for what reports they need. Now, often, what you see is that the business doesn’t have enough understanding or detail around data structures and data and so on so forth, and they just don’t know enough of what they really need until they see it.

So for them to articulate requirements around specific reports, it's a pretty tough ask. And if they do actually come back with “Well, here are the reports I need, and here is what I need in the reports,” chances are that once they see the report delivered, it is not sufficient, it's not exactly what they were looking for. So, that isn’t really necessarily a winning approach. And certainly, again, it's not a BI strategy.

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Then, secondly, just building a warehouse and believing that there must be goodness in pulling data together and having it in one place, that is something that can easily backfire. Data warehouse projects may make sense, but you want to look at the business needs beforehand. And you also want to make sure that when you organize data for analysis, you know what kind of answers you want to be able to get, what kind of questions you want to answer. That is vital to then doing the right job in setting up a warehouse.

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