3 ways to improve the Business Intelligence (BI) adoption rate

With an ever changing technology landscape and the overflow of digital data, Business intelligence plays a critical role for companies to remain competitive in the market. The power to understand and analyze data to make quick, competitive and impactful decisions is the need of the hour for any decision maker. BI user adoption plays a critical role in the drive to become a data-driven company. Unfortunately, BI adoption rate for many companies hovers as low as 30% for the executed BI projects. This situation leads to massive loss of time, infrastructure and money spent on these BI projects. Below are a few approaches that help in improving the BI adoption rate in the company.

1) Strategize BI from Top:

Adopting a data-driven culture is a transformational initiative and cannot be started from the bottom rungs of decision making unit. The strategy has to flow from the top to bottom. The corporate objective has to be modularized and the departmental objectives have to be aligned to match to business objectives. Most of the BI projects fail during this phase as companies take the bottom-up approach and the compartmentalized BI implementation eventually does not align with the overall business needs of the organization. Start the business intelligence planning from the top and implement it progressively to the bottom of the decision table.

2) Implementing for business user:

Most BI projects in the market are implemented as packaged solutions with IT department functioning as gatekeepers to the BI reporting. Unfortunately, each business is unique and the business challenges are specific to the organization and there can be no one product fits all solution. Business Intelligence should not to be treated as a replacement to existing reporting environment; rather it should help business users to work smarter, move faster and make better decisions. It has to address to the specific challenges of the company and not just produce template market reports. Eliminating the mindset of treating BI as an IT function and enhancing the business user experience with self-service BI reporting goes a long way in improving the BI adoption rate in the company.

3) Bring BI to review meetings:

While BI is seen as an initiative to enhance the reporting environment and close the gap between data to decisions, it is still not universally accepted tool for review meetings. This situation is partly attributed to limited understanding of the BI audience in the company. While there are power-users in the organization preferring slice and dice of data for dynamic analysis, there are even more information-consumers who would be content with generating static reports for business metrics. Industry estimates a ratio of around 1:4 between dynamic and static reporting. Understanding and balancing the equation between these different types of users is a critical component in the success of BI adoption. Use of BI tool in review meetings helps in collective analysis and thus improving the adoption of BI culture in the company.

These are some of the many steps that can be taken to improve the BI user adoption in the company. The drive has to start with understanding the different stakeholders involved in the decision circle and addressing the specific challenges faced in making decisions.

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How to Ensure your Business Intelligence Strategy Remains Business Focused

In the era of digital revolution, decision making has become more of a science than an art. Gone are the days when decisions were made purely on individual skills and experience. With a large influx of data available to all stakeholders of a company, executives and decision-making units are even more accountable for the choices made. The essence of today’s decision making lies in accessing the right information at the right time.

Business intelligence (BI) and analytics are the key to making those informed choices. BI and analytics are witnessing drastic growth in recent years and will continue to do so in coming years as well. The mindset of companies to adapt to the changing landscape of BI and to exploit the benefits that the tools offer to enterprises is a huge challenge for organizations that lived in the ages of traditional reporting and data warehousing.

An aspect that is often observed in organizations is that the business problems are never static. The requirements change time and time again with the new market challenges confronting the company.

The usability factor of the BI data also becomes questionable by the end of a BI project. Thus, business intelligence, which often starts as an initiative to solve a critical business equation, tends to become just another investment in technology by the end of the project.

BI tools have caused a paradigm shift in report viewing and handling. The dynamic capabilities of BI tools are difficult to visualize for companies that used traditional static reports earlier. Hence the real challenge for executives while migrating to BI is ensuring the completeness of the requirement at the beginning phase of the project. This challenge is further enhanced when technology cost is brought into the equation.

A few questions that loom large among executives while dealing with BI projects are:

  • What if the solution does not solve the business problem despite matching the requirements?
  • How would I be able to convince myself and other stakeholders on the investment made?
  • What if the requirements are wrong? How would I avoid a change request scenario?

Many organizations define success as meeting the project requirements, time and cost. The real objective and success of the BI project should be to solve the business problem at hand and not the requirements alone. The blatant truth is that most of the data challenges that confront BI solutions are often un-imaginable in the beginning and hence requirements are never complete. Only when stakeholders view the first cut of the end product, true requirements will begin to flow as data table correlations and visualizations start to make better meaning.

The best way to tackle such complexities is through a Reporting-as-a-Service model. The services model alongside an Agile project methodology will help companies tackle the challenges on an incremental basis. The continuous engagement model between vendors and clients will help the client companies to not only scale their normal reporting environment but also to be responsive and adaptive to the latest trends and dynamic reporting capabilities of BI, mobility, analytics and Big Data. Business-focused metrics can be designed and redesigned to produce actionable insights and to meet the exact challenges confronting the company. The Reporting-as-a-Service model won’t just solve the business complexities alone; it will also aid companies in shifting the effort and focus from reporting to decision making.

The true success of a business intelligence strategy lies in realizing it as a business investment rather than a technology investment.

How to Design an Effective Business Intelligence (BI) Dashboard that is Sure to Succeed?

Business Intelligence
Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence (BI) is often seen by many as a tool to reduce the effort of report generation. While the recent BI data mining and discovery tools perform the rudimentary task with consummate ease, there is a greater value that BI provides to an organization. It has the potential to take the business to a whole new level by providing new insights and keeps the business on the full throttle by answering questions on the go. So what it takes to produce a new-age business intelligence reporting? The below are some of the key factors that I believe is essential to redefine the business intelligence.

Keep Selling the Requirements:

With the advent data discovery tools, discovering value does not just stop with the sales. A second phase takes place during the execution of the project. Traditionally, the requirements always flow from the client to a project team. While this method of approach solves the rudimentary task that we discussed in the beginning of the topic, the gold or rather the real value continues to remain hidden. This situation often leads to a frequent complaint of the buyer – “The sales person deceived me into buying this. I don’t see it doing any additional value to my business for the cost involved”. It is time the vendor teams take the selling approach and propose/sell the requirements at all phase of the project to the client, thereby bringing the true potential of the technology to the fore. Generating custom reports through technology and providing insights and analysis to different aspects of business reporting allows the project team to work together with the executives in developing the ultimate dashboard. It will not just exploit the technological capability, but will discover new business insights and maximize the value potential. An agile project execution further helps to visualize the product in stages and tackles the business challenges incrementally through iterations. By continuously putting the scorecards on test, it helps to redefine the performance indicators and redesign the dashboard to provide the most relevant actionable insight.

Design the Dashboard as an Artist:

An executive does not intend to see the entire dashboard data at all times. An effective dashboard should entice the user to see only the information which requires immediate attention. The dashboard layout and colors play a huge role in a decision plan. With ever decreasing attention span and with multitude of hats worn by the new-age executives, there is very limited time available for the executives to understand and digest the information. Every second spent on a dashboard should be made valuable to the user. For example, the presence of a red color on a dashboard creates an alert in the mind and narrows the vision of the user to that information which requires immediate action; while a green sends a positive note to the user and the corresponding information is often overlooked. Thus each color defines a meaning to the user and the layout should provide relevant information at a quick glance. Also with the possibility of getting dashboards on the mobile, displaying the information in the right layout and in apt colors takes the driver seat for decision-making.

Yes, you need think like an artist while designing the layout of the dashboard.

Package the technology under the hood:

In the age of social media and online games, no user would love to read through manuals to understand what needs to be done to get the desired output. A user should be able to explore, understand and operate independently without the intervention of the manuals or the IT team. The executive should be able to hit the decision accelerator pedal and be able see the output immediately on the dashboard. Delivering a self-service BI maximizes the business value and increases the adoption of the BI in the organization. The complex technological capabilities ranging from introspection of data to analytics and prediction should be continuously enhanced and scaled to provide actionable insights at all levels in the organization. Despite the huge volumes of data crunching, the technology need to completely hidden under the hood to provide a simple game like interface for the user to operate. This will empower the user to use the tool effectively and efficiently for business analysis.

When a company transits from traditional reporting landscape to business intelligence, it needs to start visualizing reporting in a completely new dimension. While a transformation of existing scorecards and KPIs are the first step in the journey, there is greater stride that needs to be taken to produce dynamic reports. That greater stride is possible only when the technology revs up the business engine through relevant information while continuously pushing out the irrelevant data through the exhaust.