Strengthening Your Business with a Business Intelligence Strategy
Congratulations! You've decided to incorporate Business Intelligence (BI) into your company. What now? Simply building reports will not drive the kind of change you want to see in your business. You need a strategy to ensure that this next step is a solid move guaranteed to strengthen your company, not just another fad within the industry.
Start with a goal
Decide what you want to get out of business intelligence. Articulate your vision for this endeavor. Will this new organization within your company be a one-stop shop for reporting and analytics? Which departments will be supported? What are the goals of the analyses performed? Increasing profit? Gaining a deeper understanding of the customer base? A good vision at this stage is broad enough to allow flexibility and concise enough to direct future efforts.
Corral your experts
Next step: gather your experts! These are the folks who know your business inside and out and can really help identify what will be important for BI. The catch: these are NOT the folks you want on your BI team. Trying to add analytics to the jobs of your current employees only distracts them from their primary role. In a conflict, their main role will always come first and the point of having a BI group is to treat data as king. These experts will act as a panel to help the new BI team understand the functioning of the business, the data available, and the current needs.
Create a BI Team
Here's where you hire or contract for folks that will be BI-focused for your company. Once you've got your people, they will work to: 1) identify and ingest data sources, 2) define KPI's, and 3) craft a few highly-visible reports quickly. These first reports will help your company see the benefit and potential in a BI organization. Data analytics has the ability to pinpoint positive and significant opportunities. Deeper business questions will come later as the group is established, but these early victories are important for the group's longevity. After the reports are created, the BI team should initiate training sessions and open up a channel for education and feedback. These last two are especially important for taking the native knowledge of your long-term employees into consideration.
You're just getting started and there is a lot of room for improvement now, but to maintain momentum you've got to think about what the next step for the group is in terms of technology and data warehousing. Will you be transitioning to the cloud? Maintaining your own data center? Which tools should you work towards including? If these ideas are left too late, then your team will fall behind and not maintain its growth and impact.
No pain, no gain
Push yourself and your team. Fail early and often and learn from your mistakes. If everything is going perfectly then you're not reaching your potential as a group. Business Intelligence at its core is not about delivering reports as a waiter does food, it's about giving the business what it never thought to ask for. Expect and embrace inevitable setbacks as you grow and you'll create an environment where your BI team is comfortable using their skills to your benefit.