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Ensuring The Success of Business Intelligence Initiatives

The sheer volume of data that businesses today deal with is mind-boggling. But just access to large data sources is not enough. Identifying the most pertinent information and actionable insights from the available material is the key for leaders, CIOs and strategists to make informed business decisions. This is where Business Intelligence or BI, as it is better known, comes into the picture. Successful companies have been able to leverage the power of business analytics and business intelligence to make timely and informed decisions, transform their business models, serve their customers better, and gain competitive advantage.

But, Big Data and Analytics are not the guaranteed solutions for all the business problems. There are several examples of failed BI initiatives as well. In fact, Gartner predicts that between 70 to 80 percent of business intelligence initiatives fail. That’s a staggering number. So what could be the reasons behind these failures? Wrong technology choices? Lack of communication between IT and business teams? Bad data? Lack of leadership support? Well, there can be these and many other reasons.

It is not enough to have access to the best BI tools in the market. You need a robust strategy suitable for your business to be able to gain maximum results from your BI tools. It should enable the business decision makers at every level in smart decision-making. Let us look at some of the major factors which organizations need to consider while defining their BI initiatives –

  • Define Clear Goals and Objectives– Every strategy needs to start with the definition of goals and objectives. You need to clearly define what exactly do you want to achieve from your BI initiatives – is it increased revenue, more productivity, better customer satisfaction, reduced costs, or something else. The definition needs to be clear and agreed on by all the stakeholders. Depending on the objectives, you need to select the right project to start with.


  • Define Clear KPIs– After the goals and objectives are finalized, it is essential for organizations to define the exact KPIs which will be tracked and monitored. Overly complex KPIs make the analysis and maintenance difficult. To minimize the data confusion and reduce the workload, it is important to define the KPIs with great accuracy which also makes the tracking easier.


  • Get Everyone Involved– Right from the top management to the decision makers in all departments, everyone needs to be made aware, trained, and assisted in data-based decision making. Only when there is clear communication, collaboration, and support from the top executives, the BI initiatives will go beyond just being IT implementations. CIOs need to play a critical role in ensuring the selection and implementation of the right BI strategy.


  • Ensure Open Communication– Many BI projects fail in the early stages due to lack of communication between the organization the IT teams and SMEs (subject matter experts). Businesses need to involve all parties in the BI project from beginning to the end and establish open communication channels to ensure a successful collaboration.


  • Pay Attention to Data– Data hygiene can make or break the business intelligence initiatives. Only the right and good quality data can produce the right analysis and enable accurate business decisions. Organizations need to ensure that the right data is gathered from the right sources and it is properly sanitized and filtered before analysis.


  • Don’t Compromise on UI and UX– No matter how strong the backend technology is, if the decision makers cannot use the dashboards and analysis, then it is of no use for them. It is important to note that clarity, simplicity, and great user experience are critical for informed decision-making. The dashboards and overall user interface need to be designed in such a way that the right information can be accessed at the right time, quickly and easily.


  • Provide Training– Everyone involved in the BI initiatives needs to be appropriately trained to use the selected solution. Otherwise, it can lead to frustration and lack of use. To ensure that everyone is up to the speed with the new solutions, organizations need to organize the required training programs for everyone involved and also need to provide ongoing support to all the users to help them get answers to their questions.

Remember, BI projects go beyond just the selection of the best technology in the market. Successful BI initiatives require strong strategy, flawless execution, constant monitoring and tweaking, cultural changes, good training, great UX, and a strong buy-in from the management as well as end users. Start looking at it beyond just an IT implementation and you will see tremendous results.

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