Even though the detailed concept of a “business intelligence (BI) strategy” originated more than 50 years ago, this does not mean that BI has become integrated into every company’s normal business routine. As noted by Guy Garrett, “…. Many companies fail to create a BI Strategy, resulting in misalignment of their strategic vision versus its execution.” One of the most notable illustrations of how this often occurs in today’s Big Data environment is seen when companies rush to implement business intelligence dashboards before fully developing BI strategies.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and other C-level executives are ideally a company’s “first line of defense” to prevent this unnecessary (and often harmful) complication. Since the combination of comprehensive business intelligence strategies and BI dashboards is one of the most effective solutions for facilitating and monitoring the business success of any organization, CEOs have a substantial built-in incentive to develop sound BI strategies before inserting business intelligence dashboards into their business equation.
With an always-busy schedule, chief executive officers might be tempted to delegate the initial business intelligence development process to junior executives and staffers. However, the far-reaching and long-term impact of business intelligence activities makes the formative stages of BI strategic development deserving of ample firsthand control by the company’s CEO and chief operating officer (COO). The value of close CEO involvement was summed up by Phil Rhodes — “The need for strategic alignment is a key reason why BI projects must have support from C-level executives. After all, BI projects tend to be expensive, complex and cut across multiple departments and hierarchies.”
Timely support and advice from business intelligence experts like Research Optimus can be prudent elements in how C-level executives tackle the proper sequencing of all BI projects — especially those involving BI dashboards. In this post, we have assembled several concise examples that capture the importance of developing business intelligence strategies prior to BI dashboard implementation. Here are the key elements described in the paragraphs below:
- A vision, definition and roadmap for the company’s business intelligence strategy
- Effective data integration
- Change management for business intelligence and BI dashboard success
- Don’t overlook the need for expert help
Visionary Thinking Before and Beyond BI Dashboards
Business intelligence and BI tools are increasingly viewed as the most effective way to handle what can otherwise be an overwhelming amount of information for even smaller enterprises. For both businesses and nonprofits of all sizes, business intelligence tools allow organizations to move beyond the era of spreadsheets into the age of data warehouses and Big Data that requires much more than a spreadsheet to measure ongoing performance metrics and success.
But before CEOs can count on business intelligence delivering on the many potential benefits of BI tools, it is mandatory to start the process with a healthy dose of C-level executive involvement — establishing a clear BI vision, defining what constitutes BI for the company and then creating an understandable roadmap for getting to the ultimate business intelligence structure on a daily basis within the organization. These are not “cookie cutter” tasks by any means, and a workable business intelligence approach for each enterprise will require dedicated individual efforts.
Before business intelligence produces long-term “payoffs” via additional steps such as using BI dashboards, much “heavy lifting” is typically required. Due to the complicated nature of business intelligence, it should be anticipated that mistakes and errors will periodically be encountered. To address the importance of anticipating these difficult circumstances before they become problematic, Research Optimus has published advisory commentary such as “How CMOs and Other C-level Executives Can Avoid Common Mistakes with Balanced Scorecards and BI Dashboards.”
Ensuring That All Data Is Effectively Integrated
As is often the case in a Big Data world, data can exist in multiple locations — both within and outside the company. The fact that some of this data contradicts other data is often referred to as failing to have a “single version of the truth.” The classic business goal of making sure that “everyone is on the same page” is frequently uprooted by conflicting data that tells more than one story.
There can be a wide variety of solutions to achieving an effective amount of data integration within an organization before business intelligence strategies are locked into place. Whether the approach is called “Master Data Management” or some other variation, BI experts such as Research Optimus often dedicate substantial time to eliminating duplicate databases and integrating multiple databases. Until these preliminary steps are finalized, the “next step” such as use of BI dashboards should be postponed.
Change Management — A Key to Business Intelligence Success
According to several accounts, today’s smartphones have more computing power than many of the supercomputers that existed 40 years ago. With such revolutionary changes in technology during the past five decades, it would be natural for companies to make a similar “leap forward” in how they assemble, process, store and use data — but in many cases, business intelligence has been locked in a time capsule by relying on spreadsheets and other “vintage” technology.
To combat any resistance to change, the chief operating officer might need to speed up the modernization process with an unmistakable “change management” process that includes BI strategies. One successful change management approach to business intelligence involves initially taking “baby steps” — small but actionable BI development activities. This approach can help to avoid asking the organization’s employees to take on too much in the early going.
Getting Help from a Global BI Expert: Research Optimus
Business intelligence and BI dashboards involve a complex set of specialized skills that many organizations are either lacking or can’t assign to internal staff because of conflicting duties and busy schedules. This often makes outsourcing a viable solution, especially if CEOs and other C-level executives can find a renowned business intelligence expert that is always available, affordable and effective. Research Optimus qualifies on all three counts.
– Research Optimus