The Holy Grail of Business Intelligence | The key to BI success
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The Holy Grail of Business Intelligence

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What makes organizations intelligent?

We have been searching for the holy grail of Business Intelligence for many years, or what makes an organization really smart and able to achieve good results. How can we find the grail, use it and incorporate it into Business Intelligence projects? The last point is not unimportant. The objectives and deliverables of a project can drastically change because of this.

Instead of aiming at a working reporting environment that draws on multiple sources, we choose a different ambition level where we try to ensure that relevant information is or can be used for performance improvement. However, the way the Business Intelligence is organized will also need to be at a different level of operation. It’s nice to find and keep the Holy Grail, but being able to do something with it is the important thing. Below is a summary of the article in the latest Business Intelligence and Performance Management research. Do you want to know exactly what the situation is with the holy grail of Business Intelligence? Then order the research paper ‘Business Intelligence Pitfalls & Success factors’ now.

The Holy Grail

It must be remembered that the Holy Grail has two sides. Thus, the following factors indeed show a relationship with the success of BI and performance management. In that sense it is simply unwise not to work towards that in programmes and projects. However, it seems successful companies also organize their BI better, just like all the other things that they find important to perform better. It is the story of the chicken and the egg. Is the success of Business Intelligence due to an analytical company culture, or is it a good habit of smart and successful organizations and did people see a good supporting tool in Business Intelligence? Or is it something of both? In fact, there is no one right answer.

A little piece is not enough

Likewise, is a little piece of the Holy Grail sufficient? In other words, will one link in the chain help us with successful Business Intelligence? Asking the question is actually answering it. No, not in principle, because as soon as there is one strong link, the other links seem to become weaker. The chain can only sustain substantial pressure when all the links are well developed and strong. Then we can achieve much as an organization.

First links to success factors

The links are formed by cultural, behavioral, managerial and technical systems aspects, which build on each another. Our BI Survey shows that the most important factor for the success of Business Intelligence and performance management is that we actually use information for analysis and action (1). However, we can only be truly effective when the analysis and actions are in line with the strategic objectives and we all ‘analyze and take action’ to move towards these objectives (7). It helps if we can retrieve and analyze the underlying or adjacent information with one click of a button (drill down, 6).

The fact that we can quickly see what is going on is nice, but the information and knowledge must be able to lead to change sufficiently quickly. One the one hand, we need to be able to adjust business processes easily (2) and the application of process and workflow management (4) and a website with e-business capabilities (5) can help us with that. On the other hand, attention should be focused, in particular from the top, on innovation and the development of successful new products and services (15). We therefore need to deploy management information in order to innovate (8).

Barriers to success

Some things make it difficult to use information for analysis and action. For example, when the information is not tailored to the role that a person has (3), or if a good explanation of the information is missing (13), if a default report layout is not used (14), when definitions are not clear, the absence of one version of the truth (16) or when data has to be extracted each time on an ad hoc basis from a variety of systems. Then we are missing one central database for management information (18) and/or a CRM system (9).

Is top management regularly involved in BI?

All this will probably not work if top management is not regularly involved in the change process that must accompany BI (10). It will also not work if we only talk to senior management about results and, where relevant, reward them as performances improve. We should reward everybody (11) and talk to them about both negative and positive results (17) with everybody. Discussing the figures is perhaps even more important than the numbers themselves.

Finally, the above aspects relate to the internal organization in particular. That can go well for some time. We have (almost) got everything done, until for example, a new entrant in the market shakes things up again. Attention must therefore also be given to what is happening in the environment and the market and there must be awareness of these issues (12).

This was a summary of the publication in our research paper ‘Business Intelligence pitfalls & success factors’. Do you want to know exactly what the situation is with the holy grail of Business Intelligence? Then order the research paper now.

Further reading: The 5 biggest KPI blunders.

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