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December 18th, 2017

Business Intelligence: Strategy for 2018


According to Gartner, business intelligence and analytics will remain the top focus for CIOs through 2018. The benefits of fact-based decision-making through BI are clear to business managers in a broad range of disciplines, including marketing, sales, supply chain management, manufacturing, risk management, finance, etc. A recent survey revealed that reporting, dashboards, advanced visualization, and end-user self-service are given the highest priority initiatives in enterprises focused on making BI a strategic foundation for growth.

What is Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) leverages software and services to transform data into actionable intelligence that informs an organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. BI tools access and analyze data sets and present analytical findings in reports, summaries, dashboards, graphs, charts, and maps to provide users with detailed intelligence about the state of the business.

Business Intelligence tools are not only about generating reports, rather it offers a way to examine data to understand the trends and derive insights from it. BI helps in doing the job better as it streamlines the effort people need to search for, merge, and query data to obtain the information they need to make good business decisions. The potential use cases for BI extend beyond the typical business performance metrics of improved sales and reduced costs, says Cindi Howson, research vice president at Gartner, an IT research and advisory firm. She points to the Columbus, Ohio, school system and its success using BI tools to examine numerous data points — from attendance rates to student performance — to improve student learning and high school graduation rates.

How to get maximum out of your BI strategy

Reaping benefits from BI requires more than implementing the technology that enables it. CXO’s should implement some essential steps to realize the full advantage of BI.

  1. Organizations should place BI in the hands of business users rather than just IT.  This may mean embedding BI within lines of business or having BI operations report to the chief digital officer or chief customer officer.
  2. Once your BI strategy is set, it is important to adjust and monitor its use. Monitor what data sources are being accessed, what tools are being used by who. In this way, the CIO can set thresholds in partnership with business units. They will know which BI application has seen an increasing number of users across business and hence understand which is a mission-critical enterprise app that requires additional discipline and governance.
  3. It is crucial for an organization to have a strong validation process that focuses on enabling access to all the data needed to answer queries. It should also prevent problematic data from entering the BI system so that it doesn’t produce faulty insights. In addition, the validation process should be agile enough to respond quickly to requests for new BI functions.
  4. First establish the business problems that need answers then understand what metrics to analyze, and then start working on the data strategy. This top-down approach, one that’s about business outcomes works better.
  5. Change the BI program as the priorities shift. It should evolve with what the users and the people inside the business community needs.
  6. Employees across the organization should be asked to use the reporting and visualization functions built into BI technologies to develop narratives that help maximize the value of analytics. Do not limit BI to people who produce slick-looking reports. Other users can make connections with the data that others might not see, thereby offering new insights that businesses can leverage for gains.

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